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




It was the perfect music in 1990.

And Floyd “DJ Earthquake” Brown is the individual liable for its sample, one of many important memorable in ’90s hip-hop: the bass line from Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure,” which he used as a result of the funky foundation of the Vanilla Ice smashes “Ice Ice Baby.”

“That song caught my ear right off,” says Brown of 1981 conventional that he discovered whereas searching for samples to utilize on tracks for Ice. “I just kept looping the eight bars and then I put a beat behind it … And when I let Ice hear it, he flipped out on it.”

Thirty years after “Ice Ice Baby” was launched, the music — co-written by Brown, who moreover served as its uncredited producer — is now a practice in its private correct. It grew to change into the first rap single to go No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and turned Vanilla Ice proper right into a pop sensation who launched hip-hop from the streets to the suburbs.

“Ice Ice Baby” even landed the artist, born Robert Van Winkle, a movie-star automotive — bear in mind “Cool As Ice”? And the music — which debuted Aug. 22, 1990 — is the first goal there is a biopic, “To the Extreme,” being made about Vanilla Ice, with Dave Franco starring due to the rapper.

But there was a wide range of drama behind “Ice Ice Baby” sooner than it rode that bass line all the best way during which to the very best of the pop charts.

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

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

Vanilla Ice, circa 1990.
Vanilla Ice, circa 1990.

The most divine inspiration, nonetheless, obtained right here from sampling “Under Pressure” on “Ice Ice Baby.” But tensions between Brown and Vanilla Ice almost killed the magic sooner than it had a chance to happen.

“I was adding some more elements to it,” he says. “Ice comes into the studio, and he asked me to make a cassette tape of just the beat so he could ride around and listen to it. He claimed he wanted to ride around and write to it. But I wasn’t agreeing with that type of situation because when I’m working on something, I like to have finished the product before I let anybody hear it … There were words exchanged between me and Ice, and I told Tommy that I wanted all my tracks erased.”

Quon saved the tracks anyway, though, and sometimes Brown heard one different DJ having fun with the beat of “Ice Ice Baby” at a membership. “And then,” Brown says, “all of a sudden I heard it on the radio, with lyrics on it. I said, ‘That’s my song!’”

Eventually, Brown labored out a producing deal with Quon, mended fences with Vanilla Ice, and have change into his freeway 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 its private.

As the music took off, though, points arose on account of they didn’t clear the “Under Pressure” sample at first. They wanted to settle a deal on the publishing with Queen and David Bowie, who’re all credited as co-writers of the music.

Vanilla Ice at the 1991 American Music Awards.
Vanilla Ice on the 1991 American Music Awards.

Then there have been questions on who actually wrote the lyrics. Turns out it was Brown’s former collaborator, Mario “Chocolate” Johnson. “I remembered that every time I would do the music, Ice would leave and come back with some lyrics,” Brown says. “Now I’ve never actually seen Ice write lyrics … The lyrics sounded familiar, but I couldn’t pinpoint who it was.”

Despite the controversy and completely different bumps alongside the best way during 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.

“The experience of that was pretty amazing,” he says. “We didn’t believe that it could actually go that far [to No. 1]. I’m such a humble person, I was just working. My royalty checks were coming home, but … I didn’t know that I had hundreds of thousands of dollars sitting back at home in the mailbox.”

To nowadays, Brown stays buddies with Vanilla Ice. “We talk to each other probably every other day,” he says. “He also wants to create another album. I’ve got songs right now for Ice.”

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




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