Vanilla Ice

(b. 1967)

Although he was massively popular for a brief period in the early '90s, rapper Vanilla Ice occupies roughly the same niche in Hip Hop history that Pat Boone filled in the early days of Rock and Roll: he’s often regarded as a white performer who achieved commercial success by sanitizing a "dangerous" musical style for mainstream consumption. 

Born Robert Van Vinkle, Ice – who was born in Texas and raised there and in South Florida — released his first album, Hooked, in 1989 on the independent Ichiban label. He then signed with the corporate SBK Records, which released a reworked version of Hooked as To the Extreme.  Heavily promoted by SBK and heavily exposed on MTV, the first single from the record, "Ice Ice Baby" (with an instrumental hook borrowed from David Bowie and Queen's "Under Pressure"), became the first Hip Hop single to top the Billboard pop chart, and Vanilla Ice became a familiar media presence.

But the artist quickly fell out of favor, amidst accusations that he'd embellished elements of his biography to beef up his "street" credentials. His feature film debut, Cool As Ice, was widely ignored, and subsequent albums sold disappointingly.  Subsequent comeback efforts were similarly unsuccessful, although he's continued to record sporadically and make occasional TV appearances.