Then: Few people will admit today to having been a fan, but for about six months in late 1990 and early 1991, Vanilla Ice was stupefyingly popular. His major-label debut, To The Extreme, sold 11 million copies and was Number One for 16 weeks. It was so popular that Hollywood actually built a movie around him (1991's Cool As Ice) and gave him a role in the same year's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze. (Listening back to "Ninja Rap" today, it holds up better than most of the material on To The Extreme.)
Now: Young Robert Van Winkle made some big mistakes, most notably sampling Queen and David Bowie's "Under Pressure" without permission and falsely claiming in interviews that he grew up in the ghetto. America quickly grew tired of Ice's schtick; he tried to reinvent himself as a rap-rock singer in the late 1990s, but it didn't really work. Reality TV has proven to be much more successful medium for the Ice man. The DIY Network has a medium-sized hit on their hands with The Vanilla Ice Project, in which he buys and flips homes in Florida.