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In Ice Spice We Trust

Princess Diana died in 1997, right? Wrong. Ice Spice is alive and thriving.

You know her, you love her; this 23 year old NYC it girl skyrocketed to fame just last year and has since become one of the internet’s most loved pop culture sensations.

In the words of one viral tweet by Twitter user  @BADENDlNG, “she’s literally the closest thing we have to a modern day Princess Diana” — Ice Spice has the same widespread support and adoration characteristic of the late Princess of Wales. Born and raised in the Bronx, Ice Spice went from an underground New York drill artist to mainstream stardom. Since the release of her first hit “Munch (Feelin’ U)” in August 2022, Ice Spice has remained on the public’s screens and in their hearts. Ice Spice is truly for the people; she funded some of her first projects with pandemic stimulus checks, and blew up on TikTok before finding commercial music success. With a knack for virality, she rose to the top with the help of chronically online outrage cycles and internet thirst. So what is it about Ice Spice that made her so famous so fast?

 Vintage Juicy Couture sweatsuits, bedazzled oversized belts, and Prada puffers combined with the ongoing Y2K craze played a part in elevating Ice Spice’s into fashion girl status. The dizzying torrent of pandemic-era microtrends, curated personal style, and “deinfluencing” may finally be receiving their 15 minutes of fame. The era of everyone wearing the same green House of Sunny dress or knockoff Vivienne Westwood pearl choker seem to have passed (thank god). These days, it’s all about who can be the most esoteric, achieve the ‘editorial aesthetic,’ and have the biggest individuality complex. What cultural critic and feminist auteur-blogger Rayne Fisher Quann refers to as “micro-individuality” has served to increase public attention for the authentically stylish as something to emulate. Ice Spice is one of the few Instagram famous figures who seems to genuinely have what others crave: the elusive “personal style.” Without excessive filters, lip fillers, or a Shein-sponsored wardrobe, Ice Spice repeatedly goes viral for her hybrid streetwear-2000s-designer look. In her upcoming music video for “In Ha Mood,” Spice dons a Powerpuff Girl-esque jeweled necklace with a red bra, red thong, and a red Balenciaga bag to boot. She has personal style and the confidence to back it up. In other words, everyone wants what she has!

From her dozens of viral tweets to every quotable hook in her new album, Ice Spice’s contributions to the cultural canon are undeniable. Combined with her down-to-earth attitude (she is a Capricorn after all), her quotable catch phrases work especially well in the era of memes and Twitter celebrities. The Ice Spice Effect is an example of the same phenomenon presented in Douglas Quenqua’s 2012 article, “They’re, Like, Way Ahead of the Linguistic Currrrve,” where he rightly observes young women as “incubators of vocal trends.” Uptalk (pronouncing statements as if they were questions), using “like” as a conversation filler, and creating new slang words are all linguistic phenomena associated with teenage girls. Despite the misogynistic association of these young women with immaturity or even stupidity, Ice Spice’s hooks and snippets are receiving some recognition for what they are: trend-setter behavior. Gretchen Weiners may not have been able to make “fetch” work, but Ice Spice definitely made “Munch” here to stay. 

But Ice Spice isn’t just a pretty face. Her stardom and legion of ‘Munchkins’ have become a cultural phenomenon for the better. Ice Spice is a well loved Black female rapper who preaches confidence, and is unafraid of making a political statement in the process. In her 2022 interview with Erykah Badu, she cited her as a major influence, particularly her Baduizm album. During their conversation, they talk about the double standards for female rappers in the industry, and the importance of wearing her natural hair. “Hair bias” remains both a historic and modern phenomenon — as shown in the “Good Hair” study, Black women are by far the group most often portrayed as less professional, less attractive, and lesser than their white counterparts. So while Spice may have started rap wearing wigs, she immediately noticed the positive reception by her fanbase to her authentic curls, stating “I don’t think they was ready for me to be in heels and a lace front. I think they like that I’m being myself.” Male rappers are often afforded the benefit of the doubt when it comes to appearances. For their female, Black counterparts, the pressure is on to pinch, prod, and mold their bodies into the LA sex symbol du jour. Amidst a predatory cycle of consumerism that preys on women’s insecurities, BBL’s and wigs that reach your ass have become cultural mainstays. Ice Spice recalls moments of self-consciousness that will be familiar for any young woman of color— of being 15 years old surrounded by white girls, obsessing over appearances in an effort to fit in. As Badu puts it, her signature ginger afro is a political choice: “[Black women] only think hair should be covered because we were ordered to cover it.” 

Ice Spice’s first EP “Like..?” is New York City drill infused with a little…spice. Far from a one-hit wonder, the album is track after track of Ice Spice’s experimental style imbued with a sense of casual effortlessness. For a genre known for its more macho, aggressive sound,  Spice’s almost-cutesy demeanor stands out. From the “Digimon basslines of Princess Diana” to the “squiggly puffy sample Gangsta Boo,” as described in a Pitchfork Review of her album, Spice’s music has hip-hop, soul, pop, and more. Although she primarily makes Bronx drill, part of her musical diversity is the range of artists she takes inspiration from: Pop Smoke, Lil’ Kim, Nicki Minaj, and other New York natives to name a few. She names even more inspiration artists such as Azealia Banks, Kendrick Lamar, and Coldplay in an interview with Elle. “What’s Ice Spice Listening To?” 

Recently, Ice Spice released Boys a Liar pt.2 with fellow internet princess and singer songwriter Pink Pantheress, which one Twitter netizen described as “the gen Z version of Telephone”. It’s rumored she has even more projects in the works, including a song with experimental avant-pop icon Arca, and Spice’s own “dream collaboration” Doja Cat.  

Safe to say, we can expect more great things from the People’s Princess, so keep an eye out on social media. And if you haven’t heard her music yet, clearly you have some homework to do. In Ice Spice We Trust!