Ice ice baby – too cold for some

Rapper Ice Rod was fed up with hip-hop and left the game in 2004, but now the wacky MC is back

Megan Kadrmas

It was a fateful night at the Fine Line Music Café in November 2004 when eccentric, rat-tailed rapper Ice Rod stepped off the stage, unsure of when, or if, he would return.

That night, as the story goes, the bar manager told Ice Rod to get off the stage. Apparently he was offended that Ice Rod repeatedly called the audience “pussies” during his set.

Ice Rod begged and pleaded to stay on stage and finish, promising to watch his language. The manager relented and Ice Rod grabbed the mic to start his next song.

“This next one is for all you pussy bar manager mother fuckers out there,” Ice Rod said. “It’s called ‘Watch Yo Mouth.’ “

After the song, Ice Rod was done with the rap scene – until now. He resurfaced Jan. 25 at the 331 Club, which instantly sparked curiosity with those who had heard stories about the goofy white MC and his stage stunts.

This time around, he doesn’t plan on abruptly stepping out of the limelight, he said.

Ice Rod had a show slated for Feb. 23 at Memory Lanes, where he would be joined by Big Quarters, Mike Mictlan and Cecil Otter. However, that show has been canceled because, according to Ice Rod, the venue’s owner didn’t want to book rap acts.

Looks like breaking back into the rap scene might not be as easy as it was to leave. Ice Rod, who exited the hip-hop stage because he was frustrated with stereotypical hip-hop, will have to prove once again he is anything but what is expected of a rapper.

Although he does not have a show scheduled until April, Ice Rod, also known as Michael Gaughan, will keep busy with his other music projects. He is planning to record as Ice Rod and hopes to get a 12-inch EP out later this year, he said.

Ice Rod had to step out of the spotlight for a while to figure out how to be himself and hip-hop at the same time, he said.

“I was getting to the point where I was scared that if I kept doing this rapping, people wouldn’t see it as an art form,” Ice Rod said.

After two years out of the public eye, Ice Rod thinks he has it figured out. He wants to make something unique, beautiful and positive, he said.

“I’m using rap because I like rhyming and I like wordplay and I like the attitude of expressing yourself in a confident way,” he said. “But we don’t need the negativity or the misogyny or the materialism.”

Since Ice Rod only recorded three songs for his first effort, most of his fame comes from the over-the-top showmanship he exhibits on stage.

He isn’t trying to be crazy for attention’s sake, though. As an artist who works in various media and musical genres (he’s also one half of the rock duo Brother and Sister), Ice Rod said he sees a lot of unrealized potential in the visual and artistic expression of a hip-hop show.

“If you see a rap show, you’re gonna see this guy in a big shirt walking back and forth on the stage,” Ice Rod said. “So you could do anything visually or performance-wise and everyone is going to talk about it. Regardless of if they like it, they’re gonna talk about it.”

This urge to spice up the hip-hop stage show is the seed of some of the most popular Ice Rod stories.

Stories, like the time he alternated between brushing his teeth and chugging orange juice on stage at The Whole, or the time he handed out pieces of paper to the audience, performed an intricate rap about how to make a paper airplane and then chastised the crowd for wasting resources, encouraging them to recycle the paper.

What about the time he covered the Babylon in tarps so he could have a food fight during his concert that night?

Then there is the time he dressed up like “a pixilated dick, like on Cops when they have the pixilation,” Ice Rod explained. He wore the laminated poster, and nothing else, to a show at The Loring Pasta Bar.

Ice Rod is not trying to be weird to differentiate himself from the hip-hop community, he said. He is just trying to be the change he wants to see in hip-hop, he said, which means keeping the live show interesting and sending out a positive message.

“I have a respect for the art form of hip-hop and its power to improve peoples’ lives,” he said. “I don’t want to change it; I just want to contribute to it. But I don’t want to be seen as a weirdo because I’m contributing to it in my own way.”