Vanilla Ice was born Robert Van Winkle on October 31st, 1968 in Miami. His father left him when he was 4 years old and since then, has had many stepfathers. In his teenage years, he was a poor student who got dismal grades and skipped school often. He was 18 when he was in the 10th grade, and dropped out of school. During the late 80s Ice made a living by washing cars. He observed the culture and dancing of some of his peers, and later signed up at a local nightclub as a performer. He was a natural at rapping and dancing and needless to say, the audience loved him. He later got the nickname "Vanilla Ice", because he was white.
In the year of 1989, Ice signed up with SBK records and released his first LP, Hooked, which contained the single "Play that Funky Music" that was sent to radio stations to play. The single wasn't a huge success, and "Hooked" received poor sales. Later, in 1990, a local DJ decided to turn the "Play that Funky Music" record and play what was on the other side. That single was "Ice Ice Baby". Contrary to "Play that Funky Music", "Ice Ice Baby" was a huge success, and radio stations everywhere received requests to play that song. Ice re-released Hooked as To The Extreme, which contained "Ice Ice Baby", and it sold over 15 million copies and holds the record for the highest selling rap record ever.
Vanilla Ice fever was everywhere. Soon there was hundreds of merchandise, such as a Vanilla Ice doll and a board game. Vanilla Ice was featured on a tour of M.C Hammer, which influenced his dress style. Soon, he was wearing baggy jump pants and large, loud jackets with a quote on the back. "Ice Ice Baby" was on the number #1 spot for 16 weeks, and so was "To The Extreme". A couple of days after the success of "To The Extreme", many people noticed that the bass line of "Ice Ice Baby" was very similar to that of "Under Pressure" by Queen and David Bowie, and they thought that Vanilla Ice ripped the line off. He tried to explain that they were different by adding one note in his version. No one was convinced, and Queen and Bowie sued. Vanilla Ice then released Extremely Live, which contained music from one of his concerts. It sold 500,000 copies and reached Gold status.
Later in 1991, Vanilla Ice decided to get involved in the movie business. He made an appearance in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991) and then later scored his first (and last) feature film, Cool as Ice(1991). The movie was flop, having spent only three weeks in the box office before dropping out.
Vanilla Ice spent 2 years taking up motocross under his real name, and completely dropped out from the music world. In 1994, he tried to make a comeback by releasing another album called Mind-blowin'. Vanilla Ice gained a new, dread-locked, dope-smoking image, and his music changed as well, talking about violence, sex and drugs. Mind-blowin' didn't last long, since SBK records went bankrupt. Vanilla Ice nearly died of an overdose of drugs, and was revived by one of his friends. He later married, and had two children.
In the next 4 years, Vanilla Ice suffered a massive decline in the music world. Then, in 1998, Vanilla Ice made a comeback with his next album, Hard To Swallow. The album was a far cry from his earlier works, and featured explicit language. There was even a heavy metal version of "Ice Ice Baby", called "Too Cold". Although the album only sold 100,000 copies, it was well-received and made Vanilla Ice almost respected again.
In 2001, Vanilla Ice released the album, Bi-Polar, which has a combination of heavy metal and hip-hop music. He now only makes music not so he can gain fortune and fame, but because he wants to.
Vainlla Ice now resides to Los Angeles with his wife Laura and his two children.