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Vanilla Ice performed on the Today show this morning, which sounds strange (seeing as how this is 2016), but made sense when you realize the one-time white-hot “rapper” was helping to promote an “I Love The ‘90s” tour he’s conducting with Salt N Pepa, Coolio, Tone Loc, Rob Base, Young MC and more. So far, so good. Ice broke into his best-known song, “Ice Ice Baby.” I’m still feeling it. Then, something really strange happened. Four generic, half-hearted Heroes on a Half Shell took the stage with Vanilla Ice… and they DIDN’T sing “Ninja Rap” from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II. I mean, what? What?! See for yourself.
Vanilla Ice is working the crowd who had gathered outside of the Today show as part of the weekly concert series. And he’s getting them psyched for the ‘90s concert, so of course “Ice Ice Baby” makes sense. But once you invite the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on stage, you are raising a level of expectation that Ice and his shelled cohorts weren’t ready to match. If I see Rob Van Winkle (Vanilla Ice’s real name) alongside Michelangelo and Donatello, my gut reaction is to start chanting “Go, Ninja! Go, Ninja! Go!” I’m a child of the 1990s. It’s in my DNA, thanks to this mesmerizing collaboration from The Secret of the Ooze.
I’m not ready to put all of this at the feet of Vanilla Ice. It’s possible he didn’t expect to be joined by the four Turtles on stage. The costumes on these dudes look like they are homemade, by “performers” who walk around Times Square and entertain tourists for a few extra dollars. If they caught him by surprise, he wouldn’t have been ready to bust into his patented Ninja Rap. He tries to throw it in at the very end, as if to make up for the serious gaffe. But it’s way too little, way too late, Ice.
At the same time, Ice might not have the rights to Ninja Rap. This wasn’t a marketing stunt set up by Paramount to promote the next Ninja Turtles movie. That much is crystal clear once the guys in the Turtles outfits REMOVE THEIR FAKE HEADS at the end of the song! Dammit, man, think of the kids who are at home watching! Maintain the illusion!
Would Kenny Rogers join Dolly Parton on stage and not sing “Islands in the Stream?” Would Paul McCartney join Stevie Wonder in concert without riffing through a few bars of “Ebony & Ivory?” Of course they wouldn’t. And when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles share a stage with Vanilla Ice, I damn well better hear more of “Ninja Rap” then a casual line thrown out by Ice as we cut to commercial break. Who’s with me?