Robert Van Winkle (Vanilla Ice)

There was a crowd of people nearby, but none Robert Van Winkle could remember. Rob was confused by the clothing they were wearing: no longer with the buttonless jackets and parachute pants, instead there were hoodies with different logos on them and jeans. He was a man on a mission to find his old colleague MC Hammer, with his reading glasses, signature hammer pants, and unique dance moves, dancing away from haters by not allowing them to touch him; or Marky Mark, the leader of the Funky Bunch, looking at newspapers with openings for extras in movies. In front of Rob was a skinny male, shouting about conscious hip-hop—rappers that speak about social issues—Trump’s presidency—Kendrick Lamar’s new album had everybody shook—and other terms sounded like gibberish to the baffled Van Winkle.

The appearance of Rob with his sunglasses, high-top fade, his buttonless jacket, and parachute pants, the group of people surrounded him. The crowd was eyeing him from head to toe with such intensity. The bartender pulls him to the side and asks him “are you one of those nostalgia freaks?” Rob stared at him blankly, dazed and confused. Another man pulled him by the arm and whispered into his ear, “are you one of those mumble rappers or conscious rappers?” Rob was even more confused by this inquiry; suddenly, a shift in atmosphere when a man arrives. He wore a black beanie and made his way towards Rob by pushing people aside. He finally made his way to Rob, with one arm holding a cell phone, the other holding a Starbucks coffee, his discerning eyes stared into Rob’s soul. He questioned him in a very monotone voice, “what brought you here with a mob swarming around you? Are you trying to start something?” “I’ve had enough!” cried Rob, horrified by the reaction of the people, “I’m a rapper from Florida, a hip-hop/metal enthusiast, and a loyal fan of Rage Against the Machine, God bless them!”

Suddenly, a chant emerges from the crowd—“A phony! A phony! A culture vulture! A metalhead! Get him outta here!” The man that was in front of Rob demanded an answer for why he came here and whom he was seeking. Rob assured that he meant no harm and just wanted answers; explaining that he came here to search for his old colleagues.

“Well—who are you looking for? Name them.”

Rob thought to himself and asked, “where is MCA?”

The crowd was silenced after the question. The man replied, “Adam Yauch? MCA from the Beastie Boys has passed away from cancer. There is a park dedicated to him in New York. “

“What about MC Hammer?”

“Oh he went off to release more music but they turned out to be terrible; some say his music career is dead—others say he’s making a comeback in movies. I don’t know—but he has never made another #1 hit ever since.”

“What about Marky Mark?”

“He went off to an audition for ‘The Basketball Diaries’, he turned out to be a very good actor, and now lives in Hollywood.”

For Context here are the characters:

Robert Van Winkle aka Vanilla Ice – Before & After

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MC Hammer – Before & After

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Marky Mark (and the Funky Bunch) aka Mark Wahlberg – Before & After

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Adam Yauch aka MCA of the Beastie Boys – Before & After (RIP)

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  • Christopher Luong


Dear readers,

My parody is based on Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle, a short story about a man sleeping through the American Revolutionary War. I used this story because Robert Van Winkle (rapper Vanilla Ice) goes through the same thing as Rip Van Winkle. There seems to be a paradox between the two because Robert’s rap style changes, especially comparing his number #1 single “Ice Ice Baby” to something like “S.N.A.F.U.” from his rock album, ‘Hard 2 Swallow’. His four-year hiatus from music and change in direction musically reminds me of Rip’s awakening of his twenty-year coma and living happily afterwards from it.  Compared to his earlier career, where he was signed to a label releasing a more funk/pop mix with rap—Robert was much happier when making rap music independently (without a label) by mixing a darker tone and metal/rock elements after his hiatus. Such as how Rip’s life was much more enjoyable after his wife’s death. In a sense, they both eliminated the negativity (the nagging from the wife and record label expectations) in their lives as they enjoyed life much more.

I did enjoy imitating the original work by trying to replace some words with modernized vocabulary. I also kept some original words to maintain the storyline. However, the difference between the two are what time period they were living in.  One lived through pre-revolutionized America and post-revolutionized America, while the other lived through a funkadelic style of rap to a more hardcore style of rap. Two different movements, two different times. A change in politics and a change in music trends. But there is something the two share: change. Once they came back from their hiatus, the clothing style was different, the topics of discussion were different, and even people were different. From King George to George Washington, MC Hammer to Drake, parachute pants to jeans—things have changed. And that is what I’m trying to convey with this imitation.

Although Vanilla Ice’s hiatus was only four years (1994-1998), my imitation was more of an imagination of him being on hiatus for twenty plus years (1994-2017). To see how much has changed in hip-hop music and its culture since then. The outrageous clothing is no more and the fashion sense is more simplistic now-a-days. The style of rap has changed as well: something like Kendrick Lamar’s Damn (2017) is a total 180 of Vanilla Ice’s To the Extreme (1991). I wanted to write more by adding my own interpretation of Rip having an identity crisis but I would surpass the 500-word limit.

All in all, this writing project has made me see multiple paradoxes in history and the world. How things can be so similar but at the same time, very different. For example, how Rip and his relationship with his nagging wife is paralleled to Robert’s relationship with his first record label’s expectations and pressure.


One thought on “Robert Van Winkle (Vanilla Ice)

  1. Pingback: Surveying the Literature of Power | English Literature of the Long Eighteenth Century (1660-1837) Gone Global

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