Sunday, March 22, 2009

Check out the Hook

I promised I was done writing about Vanilla Ice, but then I ran into this album. Spoiler alert: It contains four versions of "Ice, Ice Baby."

Vanilla Ice
Ice is Back: Hip Hop Classics

There may be a time in your life when you feel inclined to listen to hip hop hits from the time immediately predating gangsta rap. When this happens, it’d be nice to have just one place to turn to hear “Baby Got Back,” “Fight the Power,” and “Jump Around.” Well, that ultimate collection has finally arrived—the only problem is that it happens to be a covers album by Vanilla Ice.

If Vanilla Ice wants to do an album of covers, that’s all fine and good. And it makes sense that he would want to pay tribute to artists who inspired him (EPMD, Public Enemy, The Gap Band) or even those who were his chronological contemporaries (Sir Mix a Lot, House of Pain).

The problem is that the execution is so poor. While some tracks would fit in nicely during a live performance with his rock/rap band (“Jump Around,” “Insane in the Brain”), they are absolutely lifeless on record. Ice’s delivery is flat on every track, including an updated version of “Ice, Ice Baby” (which now credits Queen and David Bowie as song writers).

Ice deserves a bit of credit for at least giving the songs a little remix treatment. He infuses “I Got it Made” with electrosynths, and replaces the bagpipes on “Jump Around” with distorted guitars. Unfortunately, these adaptations lack any of the engaging nuances of the originals. Strangely, the best song on the collection is neither a hip hop song, nor a song that should really be sung by a white guy, Bob Marley’s “Buffalo Soldier.”

Buffalo Soldier - Vanilla Ice

For fans of: Korn, Limp Bizkit
Rating: 1.5 of 4

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