Vanilla on Ice

The hip-hop trivia question wants to prove that he's still cool.

With this kind of acclaim, can critical revisionism be far behind? Maybe not. After all, Vanilla Ice was originally ripped for putting new raps to old songs--but producer Sean "Puffy" Combs is presently earning widespread praise and Grammy awards for doing exactly the same thing. Van Winkle is amused by the suggestion that he may be Puff Daddy's secret role model, but he doesn't feel that he deserves the credit for influencing Combs's style.

"That's been done since before I came along, but the artists who did it back then really didn't sell too many records," he says. "Middle-stream America really didn't know anything about hip-hop until they heard me. I pretty much put hip-hop in front of their ears. And when I did, some of them went, 'Wait a minute. That sounds like somebody else's song. He stole that song! That's Queen!' But that's just a part of hip-hop--and Puffy and I know it."

The Ice Man also understands that the love that's coming his way could evaporate in an instant, so he plans to soak it up while he can. He maintains that several companies are eager to put out Hard to Swallow as soon as it's completed, but rather than waiting to tour until that fine day comes, he's appearing at every venue that will have him. "I'm not a gangsta rapper," he says. "I'm a performer rapper, and I've been doing it for fourteen years. And hopefully there are people out there who can really appreciate the skills that I've got. And if there aren't, well, I've got a family waiting for me. And that makes all the difference.

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