The laughing stock of hip hop back in the 90s, Vanilla Ice denied he ripped off Queen & David Bowie’s Under Pressure in this interview for Throwback Thursday.
Lampooning artists in hip hop is a regular pastime nowadays but one of the biggest artists to get a critical caning by hip hop fans and commentators alike was Vanilla Ice. His classic phrase “Word, to ya mother!” has been parodised for decades along with his corny quiff-top and patriotic attire. His most infamous move, however, was Ice Ice Baby and the clear use of the bassline from Queen & David Bowie’s Under Pressure. In this interview with MTV, Vanilla Ice said he would have liked to think that his whiteness didn’t stand out amongst his black compatriots in hip hop and that the bassline for Ice Ice Baby sounded nothing like Under Pressure. Hold up… did he actually say those words? Well, he didn’t credit Queen or David Bowie for the track so he must have meant it.
“We sampled it from them, but it’s not the same bassline.”
The ever-so-slight variation (repeating a bass note in the middle) wasn’t enough to claim originality and a lawsuit ensued, with Vanilla Ice eventually paying $4 million. The money bought him ownership of Under Pressure and gave songwriting credits to Mercury and Bowie. But this was the start of things to come with sampling credits and all the problems that came with it. Thanks, Vanilla Ice.
Stream it below.