The Iceman keeps cometh-ing back.
Florida's father of self-reinvention, Rob Van Winkle, is polishing up his Vanilla Ice handle and finishing off a new album, "Skabz."
The title, Van Winkle said, comes from "all the sh-- I've been dragged through. It didn't kill me, but it scraped me up, and now I'm healing."
Vanilla Ice, fans and "Behind the Music" aficionados may recall, hit big in 1990 with his pop-rap album "To the Extreme," which spawned the inescapable #1 hit "Ice Ice Baby." Ice then went on to reinvent himself as a pot-smoking gangsta on his next full-length studio effort, "Mind Blowin'," and a tattooed metalhead on his 1998 LP, "Hard to Swallow."
According to Van Winkle, "Skabz" is a combination of his previous identities, a style he describes as "metal molten hip-hop," while he will continue to use his pop-chart-topping moniker.
"I wanted people to know that I'm not really trying to run from anything or hide," he said with regard to keeping his Vanilla Ice alias. "Besides, the label isn't important. Look at Prince. He changed his name, but everybody knew he was Prince."
According to Van Winkle, his new album features a celebrity-laden cast, including Lenny Kravitz, producer Ross Robinson (who handled "Hard to Swallow"), and members of Insane Clown Posse, Soulfly, S.O.D., Wu-Tang Clan, Public Enemy and Slipknot, among others.
The Insane Clown Posse's Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J have been confirmed as participants (see "Vanilla Ice Wrestles ICP For New Album"), and sources close to Chuck D and Professor Griff confirmed that duo's participation in the project.
But Vanilla Ice has repeatedly come under fire for embellishing his resume, whether it be fictionalizing elements of his biography in the interest of garnering street cred or naming Korn as a guest on "Hard to Swallow" when that band did not contribute to the disc (see "Vanilla Ice Lands New Deal"). As for the rest of his "Scabz" claims, it seems that Van Winkle may be stretching yet again.
While Van Winkle said that Kravitz will appear on the record, a spokesperson for the rocker said that while Ice and Lenny are friends and neighbors, Kravitz did not record anything for the album.
The denial from Kravitz's camp didn't appear to bother Van Winkle. "He's on it," Ice said. "He did some vocals on a couple of tracks, played drums, guitar, co-produced -- he's all over it."
As for Van Winkle's other guests, they include mainly former and associate members of said acts, including ex-Slipknot guitarist Josh Brainard, former Soulfly drummer Roy Mayorga, ex-S.O.D. vocalist Billy Milano and Wu-Tang Clan affiliate La The Darkman.
Producer Steve Evetts told MTV he worked on four "Skabz" songs, but he said that his associate Robinson did not produce any of the tracks.
"Skabz" boasts another current trend, namely lobbing battle rhymes at Eminem. According to Ice's management, the album will include a track dissing Eminem, who has taken a number of shots at Ice, including a criticism of his new, Slim Shady-like hairstyle.
Van Winkle hopes to have the album out early next year, although he is currently in search of a label.
Meanwhile, a reworking of Ice's breakthrough hit, titled "Ice Ice Baby 2001," has been released in Europe with a new video, and the track is spawning a wave of overseas interest in the performer.
Ice also continues to perform on a regular basis in the U.S. Dates in his immediate future include Jaxx in Springfield, Virginia on October 27; Jillian's in Raleigh, North Carolina, on October 28; and a Halloween show at Chicago-area nightclub Bourbon Street.