The chilling drama behind ‘Ice Ice Baby,’ 30 years after its release

It was the good tune of 1990.

And Floyd “DJ Earthquake” Brown is the person answerable for its pattern, one of the vital memorable in ’90s hip-hop: the bass line from Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure,” which he used because the funky basis of the Vanilla Ice smash “Ice Ice Baby.”

“That tune caught my ear proper off,” says Brown of the 1981 traditional that he found whereas trying to find samples to make use of on tracks for Ice. “I simply saved looping the eight bars after which I put a beat behind it … And once I let Ice hear it, he flipped out on it.”

Thirty years after “Ice Ice Baby” was launched, the tune — co-written by Brown, who additionally served as its uncredited producer — is now a traditional in its personal proper. It turned the primary rap single to go No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and turned Vanilla Ice right into a pop sensation who introduced hip-hop from the streets to the suburbs.

“Ice Ice Baby” even landed the artist, born Robert Van Winkle, a movie-star car — keep in mind “Cool As Ice”? And the tune — which debuted Aug. 22, 1990 — is the principle purpose there’s a biopic, “To the Extreme,” being made about Vanilla Ice, with Dave Franco starring because the rapper.

But there was loads of drama behind “Ice Ice Baby” earlier than it rode that bass line all the way in which to the highest of the pop charts.

It all began when Brown was DJing at a Dallas membership referred to as City Lights, the place Vanilla Ice — who then was referred to as simply Ice — would enter dance contests. Tommy Quon — the membership proprietor and Vanilla Ice’s future supervisor — noticed a budding star, and the search was on to seek out some materials for him.

“The first tune that I did for Ice was ‘Play That Funky Music,’” Brown says. “I simply took that [Wild Cherry sample] after which I put a black beat behind it.”

Vanilla Ice, circa 1990.
Vanilla Ice, circa 1990.Getty Images

The most divine inspiration, nevertheless, got here from sampling “Under Pressure” on “Ice Ice Baby.” But tensions between Brown and Vanilla Ice nearly killed the magic earlier than it had an opportunity to occur.

“I used to be including some extra components to it,” he says. “Ice comes into the studio, and he requested me to make a cassette tape of simply the beat so he may trip round and take heed to it. He claimed he needed to trip round and write to it. But I wasn’t agreeing with that kind of scenario as a result of once I’m engaged on one thing, I prefer to have completed product earlier than I let anyone hear it … There had been phrases exchanged between me and Ice, and I advised Tommy that I needed all my tracks erased.”

Quon saved the tracks anyway, although, and at some point Brown heard one other DJ taking part in the beat of “Ice Ice Baby” at a membership. “And then,” Brown says, “impulsively I heard it on the radio, with lyrics on it. I stated, ‘That’s my tune!’”

Eventually, Brown labored out a manufacturing cope with Quon, mended fences with Vanilla Ice and have become his highway DJ on tour with the likes of MC Hammer. Although “Ice Ice Baby” was initially the B-side to “Play That Funky Music,” it took on a lifetime of it personal.

As the tune took off, although, issues arose as a result of they didn’t clear the “Under Pressure” pattern at first. They needed to settle a deal on the publishing with Queen and David Bowie, who’re all credited as co-writers of the tune.

Vanilla Ice at the 1991 American Music Awards.
Vanilla Ice on the 1991 American Music Awards.Walt Disney Television through Getty

Then there have been questions on who really wrote the lyrics. Turns out it was Brown’s former collaborator, Mario “Chocolate” Johnson. “I remembered that each time I’d do the music, Ice would depart and are available again with some lyrics,” Brown says. “Now I’ve by no means really seen Ice write lyrics … The lyrics sounded acquainted, however I couldn’t pinpoint who it was.”

Despite the controversy and different bumps alongside the way in which, the “Ice Ice Baby” explosion was a memorable time for Brown.

Vanilla Ice and Floyd "DJ Earthquake" Brown now.
Vanilla Ice and Floyd “DJ Earthquake” Brown now.DJ Earthquake

“The expertise of that was fairly wonderful,” he says. “We didn’t imagine that it may really go that far [to No. 1]. I’m such a humble particular person, I used to be simply working. My royalty checks had been coming residence, however … I didn’t know that I had a whole lot of 1000’s of {dollars} sitting again at residence within the mailbox.”

To at the present time, Brown stays associates with Vanilla Ice. “We discuss to one another in all probability each different day,” he says. “He additionally desires to create one other album. I’ve bought songs proper now for Ice.”

Certainly, they’re endlessly bonded by “Ice Ice Baby.” Says Brown: “It was blood, sweat and tears to get to the place we went.”



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