After the Beastie Boys, one of the first white solo acts to break onto the scene in hip-hop was Vanilla Ice. Despite the culture perceiving him as a gimmick, in a recent interview with TMX, the emcee admitted that he was friends with the drug kingpin Pablo Escobar in the 1990s.
During his interview, the rapper explained how, during the early ’90s, he lived on Star Island and spent a lot of time in Miami because he was heavily into boat racing. Through this, he met some of Pablo Escobar’s entourage, who owned speedboats and more.
However, as a result, he was often invited to 188th street in the Sunny Isles Beach neighbourhood of North Miami, which is now known as the home of the ‘Cocaine Cowboys’ who used the local marina to import drugs.
Despite all of this, even after meeting Escobar himself, Vanilla Ice (real name Robert van Winkle) was completely oblivious to what his new friends were doing. Speaking to the interviewers, he explained, “[Escobar and his people] knew that I was into racing boats, and back then, we didn’t have, y’know, Google. You couldn’t check people out, and you really didn’t ask anybody what you did for a living.”
He continued, “He really did a lot of great things for the boat industry because the money he spread around to, I guess, traffic the drugs also spread into the racing boat community […] All that money and stuff was going into the boat racing community, which I was a part of.”
The emcee explained how some of the luxury speedboats his Latino friends owned were made out of carbon fibre, and he loved them. However, he has since realised they used to run drugs using these sea vehicles.
He concluded by admitting he honestly thought they were “just racers,” and it wasn’t until the FBI questioned him that he realised who they were and what they were known for.