Vanilla Ice has gone Amish—really. Rob Van Winkle, better known as Vanilla Ice, recently bunked up with the Amish while embarking on a journey to learn the ways of the traditional clan, leaving behind his smartphone and all other essential electronic equipment in efforts to film his DIY series Vanilla Ice Goes Amish. Reflecting on the experience, the pop icon spoke to XXL about the Amish having been strongly misunderstood in society, and the lessons he learned along the way—including the birth of kitten he named “Baby Ice.
Along with playing mid-wife, the Ice also indulged in the many other practices of the Amish, including the shoveling of “pig shit” and grooming sheep. “They know what’s going on,” he says in a phone interview. “They’re very hip. Just cause they don’t have these things doesn’t mean that they’re not connected to what’s going on in the world. I don’t think they’re really in tune with the latest dubstep mix from Knife party or something like that but they’re still in tune with the news.” Ice also said that a part II of the series is definitely on his list.
Although Ice has been exploring new avenues recently—including a career in real estate and construction, as well as his own lighting line—he assured that all is not lost music-wise. Stating that he plans to return to music, Ice also mentioned his many hip-hop contributions that are often overlooked. “Sampling barriers, I broke down,” he says. “They made a spectacle out of it and it made it okay for Puff Daddy and everybody else to go make music. They figured it out. There was nobody before me that I could use as a guideline. [I] took rap mainstream.” —Miranda J. (@Randa_Writes)
“I had to help a cat give birth; it’s head got stuck half way out. I had to reach in there and pull this thing out. It was at the same time disgusting and emotional, too. So I had to birth this very cute and beautiful little baby cat that I named Baby Ice.”
Are there any rappers today that remind you of yourself?
No, I’m kind of a Renaissance Man. I just kind of get in where I fit in. I just enjoy life, I take life day by day.
What would you say about the evolution of hip-hop?
Sampling barriers, I broke down. They made a spectacle out of it and it made it okay for Puff Daddy and everybody else to go make music. They figured it out. There was nobody before me that I could use as a guideline. [I] took rap mainstream. I had the first rap song that had ever been No. 1 on the pop charts. The most-sold rap record in the history of the world, and that’s extreme. 160 million. The fastest-selling [hip-hop album] of all time, and it still stands today. I don’t think it will ever be broken at this point.
Moving to your television show. Would you say it was a culture shock, being with the Amish?
Definitely a culture shock. Not having a cell phone and all other electronics was extremely difficult. The Amish do not swim. So they don’t own any swimming trunks or any of that. They do everything by hand. And they bake amazing apple pies. Great apple pies.
Did you ever say, “I’m not doing that” to one of their requests? Something that you thought was completely crazy and just outlandish?
There were a lot of those, but I ended up doing them because they’ll kind of frown on you if you don’t. I got chores, I had to shovel pig shit, manure and scatter it across the field for fertilization. I had to clean the stalls, I had to dag the sheep, which means I had to groom the hair that grows on the sheep and trim it off. I put the world’s first Vanilla Ice zig-zag hairdo on a sheep. I had the shaped line in the back of my hair so I did that on a sheep and it was hilarious. I drove a buggie everywhere, drove it through a drive-thru. I wanted to kill the rooster and make breakfast with it. And just feeding the animals, taking care of the babies. I had to help a cat give birth; it’s head got stuck half way out. I had to reach in there and pull this thing out. It was at the same time disgusting and emotional, too. So I had to birth this very cute and beautiful little baby cat that I named Baby Ice. You just get used to it after a while. You get used to taking showers once a week. It’s the way they do it and if you really want to walk in their shoes, you’ve got to do it like that.