To the Extreme

Well, he may look like Dolph Lundgren, but to give Vanilla Ice his fair share of credit, he probably would have scored with his hit rap single ”Ice Ice Baby” even if he hadn’t been white. There’s just something about the way its hook — a sample from Queen and David Bowie’s ”Under Pressure” — grabs you and flings you out onto the dance floor. New Kids on the Block and the Beastie Boys have appropriated traditional rap conceits and adapted them to their particular Caucasian points of view. But To the Extreme is so consistent in its borrowings that it could be a parody, if it weren’t for its total absence of wit.

Instead, it’s a polished amalgam of the state of rap’s hip-hop culture in its familiar testosterone-overdrive mode, complete with misogyny. The lyrics are too ambitious to degenerate into mindless rhythm, but less elaborate than the verbal acrobatics found in rap acts like Big Daddy Kane’s. Still, if Ice’s attitudes are a little derivative, that’s not the worst transgression a pop artist can commit. And if there’s about a two-to-one ratio of winners (besides ”Ice Ice Baby,” there’s ”Play That Funky Music,” ”Dancin’,” and ”It’s a Party”) to clunkers, that’s not the worst track record for a debut album. B

To the Extreme
  • Music