Hard to Swallow


Hard to Swallow

Infobox Album |
Name = Hard to Swallow
Type = studio
Artist = Vanilla Ice


Released = October 20, 1998
Recorded = 1997–1998
Genre = Alternative metal, nu metal, rap rock
Length = 49:46
Label = Republic/Universal Records
Producer = Ross Robinson
Reviews = *Allmusic Rating|2|5 [http://wc06.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:wbfyxq8jldfe~T1 link]
*"Dayton Daily News" (C-) [http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_action=doc&p_docid=0F51B90EC9014CD8&p_docnum=1 link]
*"The Declaration" (mixed) [http://www.the-declaration.com/1998/10_22/decdiscs/ice.shtml link]
*"Iowa State Daily" (favorable) [http://media.www.iowastatedaily.com/media/storage/paper818/news/1998/09/28/UndefinedSection/Swallow.This.Ice.Returns-1074778.shtml link]
*MSN Rating|1.5|5 [http://music.msn.com/album/?album=29449043 link]
*"New York Times" (unfavorable) [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D07EFDF113DF930A15753C1A96E958260 link]
*"Rolling Stone" Rating|2|5 [http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/vanillaice/albums/album/118944/review/5945083/hard_to_swallow link]
*"Rolling Stone Album Guide" Rating|3|5
*"The Yale Herald" (unfavorable) [http://www.yaleherald.com/archive/xxvi/11.13.98/ae/vanillaice.html link]
*Yahoo! Music (unfavorable) [http://music.yahoo.com/read/review/12034272 link]
Last album = "Back 2 Back Hits"
(1998)
This album = "Hard to Swallow"
(1998)
Next album = "The Best of Vanilla Ice"
(1999)
Misc = Singles
Name = Hard to Swallow
Type = studio
Single 1 = Too Cold
Single 1 date = 1998

"Hard to Swallow" is the fifth studio album by Vanilla Ice. Released on October 20, 1998, the album was the first album the performer recorded after a four year hiatus following the 1994 release of "Mind Blowin". Previously known for performing hip hop music, "Hard to Swallow" instead featured what Vanilla Ice described as "skate rock".cite web |url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1435113/19981027/vanilla_ice.jhtml |title=Vanilla Ice Explains His "Skate Rock" Comeback |accessdate=2008-02-05 |last= |first= |coauthors= |date=October 27, 1998 |work= |publisher=MTV News]

The album was produced by Ross Robinson, who helped Vanilla Ice develop the sound he had been looking for while performing as a member of a Miami grunge band.cite web |url=http://www.well-rounded.com/music/interviews/vanillaice.asp |title=Vanilla Ice: The Well Rounded Interview |accessdate=2008-03-13 |last=Peisner |first=David |coauthors= |date= |work= |publisher=] Although Republic Records believed that the album would revive Vanilla Ice's career, it received negative reviews and did not chart.

History

Robert Van Winkle, better known under the stage name Vanilla Ice, was briefly a member of a band called Pickin' Scabs, which he described as being "like a grunge band." Van Winkle had wanted to perform more hip hop-influenced rock music, but states that the band "didn't know how to play this sound that I was looking for."

During a conversation with Monty Lipman, a founder of Republic Records and former SBK Records promoter, Lipman asked if Van Winkle had heard of Ross Robinson. When Van Winkle told him that he hadn't, Lipman told Van Winkle some of the bands that Robinson had worked with, such as Korn, Limp Bizkit, Sepultura and Deftones, and that Robinson was interested in working with Van Winkle.

Van Winkle states that he and Robinson were "totally clicking right off the bat" when it was discovered that they both shared an interest in motorcross racing.

According to Robinson, others had attempted to persuade him not to produce the album. "People kept saying to me, 'It might hurt your name, it might hurt your reputation. I said, 'Then I'm doing it.' It's the most punk-rock thing you could do."cite web |url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C04EFD8173AF931A2575BC0A96E958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all |title=THE POP LIFE; He's Back Back, Baby: A New (Improved?) Ice |accessdate=2008-02-18 |last=Strauss |first=Neil |coauthors= |date= |work= |publisher=The New York Times]

Van Winkle states that "It's unbelievable how this whole thing just came about. I really believe that it was an action of God. God pushing my wave and riding it. And Ross is one of those people and Monty is one of those people that God put in front of me and I'm being blessed right now."

Production

Initial publicity claimed that the album would feature guest appearances by Lenny Kravitz and members of Korn and the Bloodhound Gang.cite web |url=http://www.avclub.com/content/node/23202 |title=Interview with Vanilla Ice |accessdate=2008-02-18 |last=Thompson |first=Stephen |coauthors= |date=May 6, 1998 |work= |publisher=The A.V. Club] Only the latter band's lead vocalist, Jimmy Pop, appeared on the final album. "Freestyle" features an appearance by Cyco, a founding member of the influential horrorcore group Insane Poetry. [cite web |url=http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2004_02_faithinchaos.html |title=Review of "Faith in Chaos" |accessdate=2008-08-05 |last=Jost |first=Matt |publisher=Rap Reviews] Preceding the release of the album, executives at Republic Records compared Vanilla Ice's career direction to the revival of actor John Travolta as a result of the success of "Pulp Fiction", and believed that Vanilla Ice would be similarly successful.

Drummer Shannon Larkin stated of the album "I'm proud of that one. That was a killer record. Producer Ross Robinson is very demanding when it comes to drums in the studio. Everything had to be 110% for that guy, and I love him for that." [cite web |url=http://www.moderndrummer.com/updatefull/200001380 |title=Shannon Larkin: Showman |accessdate=2008-06-24 |last=John Farinella |first=David |coauthors= |date= |work= |publisher="Modern Drummer"] Van Winkle stated of working with Robinson, "The vibe was totally so cool. We had the album finished in a month and a half because we kept the vibe."

Musical and lyrical style

In the early stages of the album's development, it was promoted as an album of "high-energy hip-hop." [cite web |url=http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/vanillaice/articles/story/5921192/to_the_extreme_and_back |title=To The Extreme and Back: A clean-and-sober Vanilla Ice returns again with "Hard to Swallow" |accessdate=2008-03-23 |last=Fischer |first=Blair R. |coauthors= |date=March 12, 1998 |work= |publisher=Rolling Stone] cite web |url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1435114/19980521/vanilla_ice.jhtml |title=Vanilla Ice Lands New Deal |accessdate=2008-02-05 |last= |first= |coauthors= |date=May 21, 1998 |work= |publisher=MTV News] Republic Records later described the album's musical style as "aggressive rock" in the stages preceding the album's release. Vanilla Ice referred to the album's musical style as "skate rock." The album's dark and thick sound fuses elements of heavy metal, punk rock and hip hop.cite news |first=Kristi |last=Singer |authorlink= |author= |coauthors= |title=A new start for Vanilla Ice: Rob Van Winkle struggled with image and depression but now embraces the new Ice |url=http://kristi_singer.tripod.com/id77.htm |format= |work= |publisher="Wilmington Morning Star" |location= |id= |pages= |page= |date=August 4, 2000 |accessdate=2008-06-24 |language= |quote= |archiveurl= |archivedate= ] Van Winkle stated that "I wanted to express myself in a very intense way, and there was no way it was going to happen with a drum machine. Basically, I'm bored with drum machines and samples and stuff. With a band, they can build the energy around me."cite web |url=http://www.iowastatedaily.com/news/1998/10/29/UndefinedSection/Survival.Of.The.Phattest.Old.School.Rap.Returns.part.Ii-1074138.shtml |title=Survival of the phattest - Old school rap returns (part II): The Iceman under pressure |accessdate=2008-06-24 |last=Moss |first=Corey |coauthors= |date=October 29, 1998 |work= |publisher="Iowa State Daily"] The album features a noticeably darker sound and lyrical subject matter than Vanilla Ice's previous albums, such as "To The Extreme" and "Mind Blowin". The album was described by CNN as a "shrill confessional" on which the performer "flays his '80s persona, his fractured family and Attention Deficit Disorder, which he has."cite news |first=Donna |last=Freydkin |authorlink= |author= |coauthors= |title=Vanilla Ice rolls the dice: The Iceman resurfaces with new rap-metal album |url=http://www.cnn.com/SHOWBIZ/Music/9901/08/vanilla.ice/index.html |format= |work= |publisher=CNN Interactive |id= |pages= |page= |date=January 8, 1999 |accessdate=2007-11-10 |language= |quote= |archiveurl= |archivedate= ] Van Winkle states that "A lot of people think I'm satanic now that they've heard the record, and it's so dark. But that's not true. It just comes out dark because that's the way I feel I've been treated. It's just real, man, that's all I can say about it. There's no strings attached." Van Winkle states that the album "wasn't intended to be so dark. I opened up to Ross and I told him a lot of things that happened to me in the past. It was like, really deep conversation, and he was like, you should write about that. And I was like, dude, I didn't want people to judge me for that. But he was right. It was like total therapy."

The subjects focused on in the album's lyrics include Van Winkle's abusive childhood and drug addiction. Van Winkle stated that "I wrote 'Fuck Me' 'cause I know how I've been perceived. "I can look back at the whole Vanilla Ice thing, and it was played way out. It was just an image thing. I was always real to the music. But it built a huge hurdle for me to get over musically. A lot of people didn't even want to admit they bought a Vanilla Ice record." "Too Cold" is a rapcore remake of Vanilla Ice's biggest hit, "Ice Ice Baby". Van Winkle states that he remade the song because "I wanted to let people know that I'm not running from anything. This is me. This is what I'm about. I think the music speaks for itself. If the music was whack, nobody'd even care to hear anything about no Vanilla Ice. I just think the music is so strong people are kinda comin' out of the closet. It's like, 'You know, hey, I bought it back in the day, and the new stuff is slammin'.' I think there's some hip-hop influenced, stage-diving, body piercing, tattooed white boys out there who are embracing this new sound." "Too Cold" was originally intended to be released as a hidden track or B-side.

Response

"Too Cold" became a radio hit in some markets. Reviews of the album were generally negative. A reviewer for the "New Times" in Los Angeles referred to the album as "stupid, exploitive, derivative rap-metal by the man who once did nearly irreparable damage to hip-hop." Jon Pareles of "The New York Times" wrote that "If history is any guide, Vanilla Ice's adoption of rap-metal means that hard rock is about to move on." [cite web |url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D07EFDF113DF930A15753C1A96E958260 |title=POP REVIEW; Ditching Rap for More Hardcore Metal |accessdate=2008-03-13 |last=Pareles |first=Jon |coauthors= |date=October 23, 1998 |work= |publisher="The New York Times"] Richard Torres of "Rolling Stone" gave the album two out of five stars, writing that while "nothing, however, can redeem Ice's wack boasting," the album "isn't half-bad." [cite web |url=http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/vanillaice/albums/album/118944/review/5945083/hard_to_swallow |title="Hard to Swallow" Review |accessdate=2007-11-10 |last=Torres |first=Richard |coauthors= |date=November 13, 1998 |work= |publisher=Rolling Stone] "The New Rolling Stone Album Guide" gave the album three out of five stars. [cite book |last=Kemp |first=Rob |authorlink= |coauthors= |editor=Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian |others= |title=The New Rolling Stone Album Guide |origdate= |origyear= |origmonth= |url= |format= |accessdate= |accessyear= |accessmonth= |edition=fourth edition |series= |volume= |date= |year=2004 |month= |publisher=Simon and Schuster |location= |language= |isbn=0743201698 |oclc= |doi= |id= |pages=pages 843–844 |chapter= |chapterurl= |quote= ] The "Iowa State Daily" called the album "the greatest pop culture comeback of all time". [cite web |url=http://media.www.iowastatedaily.com/media/storage/paper818/news/1998/09/28/UndefinedSection/Swallow.This.Ice.Returns-1074778.shtml |title=Swallow this - Ice returns |accessdate=2007-11-10 |last=Moss |first=Corey |coauthors= |date=September 28, 1998 |work= |publisher="Iowa State Daily"] The album did not chart. [cite web |url=http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/retrieve_chart_history.do?JSESSIONID=nGQCLfSQB6mQZwJfqZ11CZJvyXs0zfpnlPFlNpSQ1kChhJYGBTnD!-2005452335&model.vnuArtistId=1084&model.vnuAlbumId=327390 |title=Artist Chart History for Vanilla Ice |accessdate=2008-06-23 |publisher="Billboard"]

Many critics have noticed a similarity between the style of music present on "Hard to Swallow" and that of bands such as Korn and Limp Bizkit.cite news |first=Robert |last=Wilonsky |authorlink=Robert Wilonsky |author= |coauthors= |title=Korn holed: It's Hard to Swallow, but Vanilla Ice goes...metal? |url=http://www.dallasobserver.com/1998-10-22/music/korn-holed/ |format= |work= |publisher=Dallas Observer |id= |pages= |page= |date=October 22, 1998 |accessdate=2007-11-10 |language= |quote= |archiveurl= |archivedate= ] Van Winkle states that although he knew of the bands, he "didn't even listen to [...] any of them" before he made the album, and he was not trying to imitate the musical style of the bands. "It's just we have the same producer, and some of the guitars between that and Limp Bizkit are gonna sound similar. That's what happens when you've got the same guy producing them. [...] I had heard the Deftones more than any of them."

The album appeared on The A.V. Club's list of the "Least Essential Albums of the '90s," [cite web |url=http://www.avclub.com/content/node/24539 |title=Least Essential Albums of the '90s |accessdate=2008-03-28 |last=Phipps |first=Keith |coauthors=Rabin, Nathan; Thompson, Stephen |date=December 22, 1999 |publisher=The A.V. Club ] at number 24 on "Maxim"'s list of the "30 Worst Albums of All Time", [cite web |url=http://www.maximonline.com/articles/index.aspx?a_id=3245 |title=30 Worst Albums of All Time |accessdate=2008-06-24 |last= |first= |coauthors= |date= |work= |publisher="Maxim"] and number 26 on "Q"'s list of the "50 Worst Albums Ever!"cite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |author= |coauthors= |title=The 50 Worst Albums Ever! |url=http://www.rocklistmusic.co.uk/qlistspage3.htm#50%20Worst%20Albums |format= |work=Q238 |publisher="Q" |location= |id= |pages= |page= |date=May 2006 |accessdate=2008-02-22 |language= |quote= |archiveurl= |archivedate= ] Vanilla Ice released a follow-up album, "Bi-Polar", in 2001, which continued the performer's artistic and career direction. [cite journal |url=http://dir.salon.com/story/ent/music/feature/2002/01/03/ice/index.html |title=Ice capades |accessdate=2008-06-19 |last=Vontz |first=Andrew |coauthors= |date=January 3, 2002 |work= |publisher=Salon.com]

Track listing

#"Living" — 3:45
#"Scars" — 4:56
#"Ecstacy" — 0:09
#"Fuck Me" — 4:32
#"Valley Of Tears" — 0:12
#"Zig Zag Stories" — 5:26
#"Too Cold" — 3:24
#"Prozac" — 4:27
#"S.N.A.F.U." — 4:46
#"A.D.D." — 5:14
#"Stompin' Through the Bayou" — 3:24
#"The Horny Song" — 4:33
#"Freestyle" — 4:58

Album credits

*Ross Robinson — Producer, Mixing
*Chuck Johnson — Recording Engineer, Mixing
*Rob Agnello — Sound Engineer
*Eddy Schreyer — Mastering
*Gene Grimaldi — Editing, Assembly

Written by Van Winkle, Robinson, Ordito, Chaos, Borland, Larkin, Mayo, Holoman and Johnson.

Personnel

*Rob Van Winkle — Vocals
*Shannon Larkin — Drums
*Sonny Mayo — Guitar
*Doug Ordito and Scott Borland — Bass
*Scott Borland — Keyboards
*Casey Chaos — Guest Vocals on "A.D.D." and "Fuck Me"
*Cyco, Zero, Jimmy Pop Ali and Rod J — Additional Vocals
*DJ Swamp — Scratches

References


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