Vanilla Ice made his reality TV debut this month with "The Vanilla Ice Project," a new series on the DIY Network featuring the rapper (real name: Robert Van Winkle) turning a decrepit 7,000 square-foot property into a blinged-out mansion. The small-screen venture coincides with the upcoming indepedent release of new album "WTF," a mix of hip-hop, country and techno which Vanilla Ice tells Billboard.com will "show people there are no hidden rules" to making a record.
Despite the musical diversity of "WTF," Vanilla Ice says that his heart still belongs to rap music 20 years after becoming a star with "Ice Ice Baby." "I'm an encylopedia when it comes to hip-hop," he says. "It's exciting to see people doing things that they always said couldn't be done and reinventing the style. It's great to grow up in this era."
Before the public gets to hear some of his new rhymes, Vanilla Ice added to our "5 Things" series by sharing the five rappers currently dominating his stereo:
Vanilla Ice says that Jay-Z would "of course" be on his list favorite MCs, especially considering his recent material. "'Empire State of Mind' is a great song," he says, "and 'On To the Next One'? Love that song. Whatever is going on, he's the leader."
The New Orleans rapper gets major props for his quick rise to fame from the Dallas, TX native. "He's on fire, without a doubt," says Vanilla Ice. "I'm from the dirty South, and I love the dirty South rap."
Although not a superstar on Jay-Z and Lil Wayne's level, Jadakiss' skills earn just as much respect from Vanilla Ice. "A lot of stuff isn't so well-known and there's no mainstream hit or something, but [Jadakiss] is super-talented," he notes.
The Atlanta rapper is another one of Vanilla Ice's faves. He calls Ludacris "amazing" and admires the Southern influence on his cadence and beats that Lil Wayne also uses.
Vanilla Ice can appreciate the up-and-coming MCs, but he says that he has a soft spot for veteran artists like hip-hop pioneers Public Enemy. "I go back to the old school," says the rapper. "Public Enemy, and also EPMD, Sir Mix-A-Lot... I just love the whole hip-hop thing."