Quick: What’s the first thing you think of when you hear Vanilla Ice? A frozen dessert on a stick? A refreshing summer sorbet? A famous ice sculpture?
For me, it’s “Ice Ice Baby,” the white rapper’s signature hip-hop song that exploded onto pop charts in 1990–a mere 20 years ago. The video is available here.
I was 27 years old the summer “Ice Ice Baby,” with its heavy sampling of one of my favorite songs–“Under Pressure,” by Queen and David Bowie–hit the charts. I had just moved back to Chicago after having spent the previous three years in Colorado as a ski bum. Unlike most of my peers, who followed a typical U.S. middle-class trajectory (college, career, marriage–not necessarily in that order), I was still “finding my way.” But I was definitely, by most people’s standards, what would be considered an adult.
So, when I read the following post on a friend’s Facebook wall this morning I suddenly felt…uh, mature: “Another song I LOVED when I was little was Vanilla Ice–Ice Ice baby. My grandparents have it on video!!” I was, like, “when I was little?” “GRANDPARENTS?!” OMGawd, I’m a fossil!
I’m exaggerating, of course. I jokingly posted on my friend’s wall that the comment made me feel ooooold, but I know I’m not really a fossil–yet. Nevertheless, the wall post did get me thinking about the music I was listening to when I was little, and it sure as hell wasn’t rap!
I grew up mostly on folk and classical music. My parents’ record collection (neither cassette tapes nor DVDs had been invented yet, let alone the doomed 8-track tape) included Pete Seeger; Big Bill Broonzy; The Weavers; Peter, Paul and Mary–stuff like that.
My first-ever album was Peter and the Wolf, a story by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev. He created a classical piece in which various instruments represented different characters in the story. I think the album we had was the version performed by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein conducting, from 1960. Rap was not even part of the music industry’s vernacular until the mid- to late 1970s!
So, when somebody posts on a popular social networking site that one of her favorite songs when she was a kid and that her grandparents have on video came out when YOU were in your 20s or 30s…does it make you feel old? I think it sparked a bit of nostalgia for me–and gratitude that my parents and siblings exposed me to different kinds of music that eventually led me to rock ‘n’ roll, R&B, soul music and jazz.
As for the grandparents who have “Ice Ice Baby” on video? I think they sound pretty hip!