By Rebecca Bulnes
By Laurie Charles
By Chuck Strouse
By Lee Zimmerman
By Laurie Charles
By Falyn Freyman
By Hans Morgenstern
The album he's working on is called Yesterday Is History, Tomorrow Is a Mystery. You might never again see him play a concert in sparkling pants and pompadour, but he's game for doing a few shows with Hammer. This year, they played a date in, of all places, Orem, Utah. In March, they're slotted to play Wembley Stadium in London.
Being prone to adrenaline-inducing behavior — he's reached 150 miles per hour in "many, many different cars" — it's only natural for Rob to ponder what he might want done with his remains when he dies. Though it makes for rather macabre conversation at a recent dinner. There are arguments in favor of cremation. Then for burial. "Blasted into space" comes up. Then, of course, there's cryogenics.
"He's always talking about what he wants done with his body when he dies," Laura says. "Now it's getting frozen."
"The Iceman sealed in a block of ice forever," Rob says, tilting his head in thought. "I don't know, there's just something that sounds right about that."
A few weeks before the big block party, Rob is headlining a throwback show at the James L. Knight Center in downtown Miami. Other names on the ticket include Big Daddy Kane and the Sugarhill Gang. Rob is slotted to play for about 20 minutes to close the show. This is the first time he has played this stage in 16 years.
Preshow, Laura and the girls join Rob at the Ritz-Carlton near the Knight Center. Around showtime, backstage in his dressing room, Dusti and Keelee discuss the potential set list with their father.
"We're going on soon," he says to the girls. "So what should we play?"
Their favorite is "Ninja Rap," the song he did for Secret of the Ooze.
Someone taps at the curtain covering the doorway to the dressing room. The guys from the Sugarhill Gang just closed their set with an inspired version of "Rapper's Delight," the song that music critics cite as having launched the hip-hop movement. For 30 years, the trio has been swaying in front of microphones, reciting, "a hip hop the hippie the hippie to the hip hip hop, a you don't stop the rock it to the bang bang boogie." They want a photo with Rob.
"Oh yeah, definitely," Rob says, smoothing out his T-shirt in the mirror.
It's a little after 12:30 a.m., and fans have been chanting his name between sets all night. Laura and the girls sit in the fifth row. Rob busts onto the stage through an inflatable grim reaper. A friend is jumping around in a Santa Claus outfit and a clown mask. Confetti rains down on the crowd. The girls stand on chairs for a good view of their dad.
After two songs that aren't "Ice Ice Baby," the audience begins to wonder: Will he play it? After a third song they don't recognize: Maybe he won't, they think. Maybe he doesn't do it anymore. Then Rob strolls to the front of the stage.
"Does anyone want to take it back to the old school?" he says into the microphone.
The crowd returns a frenzied roar. The anticipation is palpable. What's happening here is not irony or mockery. These people are here for their moment in another time. For a few seconds, when he turns just so and the spotlight hits him in just the right way, it looks like Rob actually glows.
He sneaks a quick wave and a wink to his girls.
As the volume of the crowd crests, Rob holds up the mike and lets fly the words he has said thousands of times: "All right, stop!" he begins. "Collaborate and listen! Ice is back with my brand-new invention!"