Once upon a time, Vanilla Ice got ridiculously famous and filthy fucking rich on the back of the monstrously huge 1990 single “Ice Ice Baby,” a song that was recorded when you could still get away with releasing rap songs with uncleared samples.
Ice says that he wrote the lyrics in 30 minutes, and they the are based in fact. He told Entertainment Weekly in 2016: "The song tells you the story. It's me, with my top down, in my 5.0 Mustang, cruising down A1A Beachfront Avenue. It's a weekend experience that turned into an amazing song. It's timeless. I still love singing it, and it never gets old."
“Ice Ice Baby” OBVIOUSLY sampled David Bowie and Queen’s 1981 classic “Under Pressure.”
In what is now regarded as one of the most pathetic attempts to lie ever, Ice attempted to explain that the two basslines were slightly different:
John Deacon, the bass player of Queen, came up with the idea for the bassline. The riff was his original idea.
According to industry insider Hans Ebert, Brian May of Queen first heard this song in a disco in Germany. He asked the DJ what it was, and learned that it was #1 in the US.
A rapper for Death Row Records, Mario "Chocolate" Johnson, claimed that he wrote part of this song and was not given credit, leading to a story that has become hip-hop lore.
Label boss Suge Knight, along with Johnson and a football player for the Los Angeles Raiders, visited Vanilla Ice and convinced him to sign over the publishing rights to Death Row. It is rumored that part of the convincing involved hanging Vanilla Ice over a balcony by his ankles, but Ice denied it, saying the story got exaggerated and that Knight was polite in his request.
Knight made a lot of money from those publishing rights, which went into Death Row Records and the development of artists like Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Tupac.
On the liner notes of the album, the composer credit is given to Vanilla Ice, Earthquake (his producer, Floyd Brown), and M. Smooth (collaborator Mario Johnson). They also thank MC Hammer, Ice T, Public Enemy, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Cash Money, EPMD, and 2 Live Crew, but there is no mention of Queen or David Bowie. However, Bowie and the members of Queen were later added as composers on the official credits.
"Under Pressure" was recorded at Mountain Studios in Montreux, Switzerland in July 1981. Queen, working on their 1982 album Hot Space, had been working on a song called "Feel Like", but were not satisfied with the result.
While they were there, David Bowie was also at Mountain recording his vocals for "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)", the title song for the 1982 horror film of the same name.
The artists all ran into each other during the session.
Bowie sang backing vocals for Queen's song "Cool Cat", but his vocals were removed from the final song because he was not satisfied with his performance. Afterward, they worked together for a while and wrote the song.
It was credited as being co-written by the five musicians. The scat singing that dominates much of the song is evidence of the jam-beginnings as improvisation.
However, according to Queen bassist John Deacon (as quoted in a French magazine in 1984), the song's primary musical songwriter was Freddie Mercury – though all contributed to the arrangement.
As Brian May recalled to Mojo magazine in October 2008, "It was hard, because you had four very precocious boys and David, who was precocious enough for all of us. David took over the song lyrically. Looking back, it's a great song but it should have been mixed differently. Freddie and David had a fierce battle over that. It's a significant song because of David and its lyrical content." The earlier, embryonic version of the song without Bowie, "Feel Like", is widely available in bootleg form, and was written by Queen drummer Roger Taylor.
Ice later admitted that he was being “a jackass” when he made that claim. And in a 2017 interview on Dan Patrick’s sports-talk radio show, Ice claimed he got out of the “Under Pressure” lawsuit issue by just straight-up buying “Under Pressure” from Queen. As in: He didn’t pay them off. He actually bought the song.
However, tells Ultimate Classic Rock that Vanilla Ice’s statement is inaccurate: “An arrangement was made whereby the publishing in the song was shared.”