Dallas has long been a hotbed of musical talent, from blues legend Stevie Ray Vaughan to neo-soul goddess Erykah Badu. But no North Texas musician has reached the same commercial and artistic heights as South Dallas’ own Robert Matthew Van Winkle, better known to the world as the versatile and inimitable rapper Vanilla Ice.
Ice first burst onto the scene with the urgent proclamation that we all “stop, collaborate and listen,” and the former R.L. Turner student immediately commanded the world’s attention. We’ve been collaborating and listening ever since. Having established his bona fides as an unparalleled musical genius perhaps gifted with divine inspiration, Ice then demonstrated his range with a star turn in the classic 1991 film Cool As Ice.
The rapper’s bold forays into nu-metal continue to break barriers, while his work as a reality TV star and cultural ambassador to the Amish only strengthen the case that Ice should be considered not just one of the greatest artists of all time, but one of the greatest Americans of all time.
As a dancer, Ice is in the conversation with jaw-dropping performers like Michael Jackson. As a rapper, Ice has achieved a cultural status shared only by icons like 2Pac and Biggie. As an actor, Ice has proved that the Academy truly doesn’t know what it’s doing. And the numbers don’t lie: To The Extreme has sold 7 million copies. As we all know, there is no clearer barometer for artistic success than record sales.
From his humble beginnings as a motocross racer and dancer on the streets of Dallas to his current place as a world-conquering musical genius, Ice has never compromised his integrity or his singular vision.
On this day, April 1 of 2015, Front Row would like to officially proclaim Mr. Robert Matthew Van Winkle the greatest artist this fair city of Dallas has ever produced. Keep making us proud, Ice.
Editor’s note, 5:30 pm, April 1: Happy April Fools’ Day.