Picture Freddie Mercury, David Bowie and the rest of Queen working on the hook for “Under Pressure.” The song is catchy, difficult, and something completely new. Now picture how Freddie Mercury must have felt when young white rapper Vanilla Ice clearly stole the sound for a track called “Ice Ice Baby.”
Sampling has become universal, especially within rap and hip-hop. One could argue that many of Will Smith’s 90s track or Kanye West’s later tracks came from old Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye tracks. But what Vanilla Ice did with Queen was different. He flat-out stole the song.
Part of this is because the courts were still litigating how to handle copyright laws with music in the 90s. The bass line from “Under Pressure” being used in Vanilla’s Ice’s single, “Ice Ice Baby” was somewhat of a grey area at the time. Ironically, the first time Mercury heard the song, he thought it was “Under Pressure” at first.