The Complete Evolution Of Ice Spice

With her signature fiery red hair, rapper Ice Spice is unmistakable and hard to miss both on the Internet and on the many red carpets she's now visiting. But the famous rapper has a rags-to-riches story that's captivated the media and fans almost as much as her catchy music has.

She was born Isis Naija Gaston on January 1, 2000, in the Bronx, New York, from rather humble beginnings as the eldest of six siblings. Though her mom and dad separated when she was young, she recalls spending time in the studio with her father, an underground rapper, and credits those experiences as one reason she chose to become an artist herself. 

But her journey to superstardom began like many other stories of celebrities who came from less than well-to-do origins. Ice Spice officially began her career after meeting record producer RIOTUSA during her freshman year at SUNY Purchase and began several collaborations with him. But it was in 2022 that Ice Spice rose to prominence with her popular track "Munch (Feelin' U)" when it achieved viral status on TikTok thanks to her catchy hooks and an accompanying music video that was filmed where it all started for her, at home in the Bronx.

Ice Spice told us how she came up with her stage name

One of the things Ice Spice is most frequently asked about is the origin of her stage name. The rapper told Elle that she came up with her stage name when she was 14 and needed a name for a "finsta" account. (A finsta is a "fake" Instagram account that people will use to post content that they don't want on their main account, which may be followed by family members or others in their professional circle.)

At 14, it's no wonder Ice Spice created what was supposed to be a throwaway account and had little expectations that the name would stick or that her popularity would explode as it has over the last year.

Ice Spice reveals she created the moniker because the name rhymed and, as she told Elle, because she loves spicy food and puts hot sauce on everything. The name and her honesty about its origins have further endeared her to fans, who find both the name and the creation of a finsta account "hella relatable."

Her real name got flagged on her own Insta

Although Ice Spice readily tells interviewers that her name is a result of a finsta account she created when she was only 14 years old, she also revealed that when she used her real name on Instagram, Isis, her content was flagged for violating community guidelines and removed from the social media giant's platform. This no doubt deterred her from using her legal name for future posts but also cemented her decision to keep the moniker she'd adopted when she was just a teenager. 

The "Munch" rapper revealed that she posted on Instagram in April 2023 and referred to herself by her real name in a post with the caption, "Ayo Isis." To her apparent surprise, the post was flagged by Instagram for violations and removed from the social media site. The rapper responded to the allegation that her post went against guidelines on violence and dangerous organization by screenshotting the notification and captioning it, "Can't type my name is ode" (via Complex).

Fans were quick to jump to her defense and quickly took to Twitter (now X) to defend the megastar. 

She didn't have her signature look in high school

Ice Spice wasn't a household name until very recently, and the photos of her in high school are very different from her present persona. Because the "Bikini Bottom" rapper has garnered worldwide attention, online sleuths are scouring the web for any piece of information about her before she ascended to superstardom.

In fact, she revealed that nefarious individuals even leaked her social security number online. She told Teen Vogue, "It's locked now. It sucks for everybody, because when I want to use it now, I gotta go and ask mad different people."

Internet investigators also found and distributed photos of the rapper when she was just a teenager in high school. Not only did her class photo go viral, but so did photos of her playing volleyball on her high school team from Sacred Heart High School in Yonkers. While the doxxing of her social security number is a major violation of privacy and seems to have been done with malicious intent, Ice Spice took the surfacing of the old photos in stride, as they reveal a young girl who didn't know she was on the cusp of worldwide fame.

She started making music on TikTok

Even though "Munch" is the track that brought Ice Spice worldwide fame, it's neither the first track the rapper released on social media nor is it the first track of hers to go viral.

Though she credits her father, a rapper himself, for lighting the spark in her that made her want to pursue her art, it was her collaboration with fellow Bronx resident and SUNY Purchase student named RIOTUSA that would catapult her to global success. Riot is a record producer and son of Hot 97's DJ Enuff, which gave him enough insight into the business to set Ice Spice up for success.

The first song in their collaboration to go viral was a 2021 track called "Bully Freestyle." The track was released in August 2021, and another track called "No Clarity" was released in November 2021. She admits that she was nervous after dropping her debut song because of the online negativity she received after "Bully Freestyle," but she told The Guardian she eventually realized it was because the track was doing well, and "once other people start to love you, people have to hate to balance it out." She spent the following months working on her craft and developing her breakout track, "Munch."

Her breakout track Munch dropped in 2022 and exploded

After a period during which Ice Spice dedicated herself to working diligently on her craft, she dropped the track that would catapult her to fame in August 2022. The song's catchy lyrics took TikTok by storm, as did the accompanying music video. Although many critics may have claimed the song's explosive popularity was a result of the sexy video Ice Spice made for the track, its virality was undeniable. So popular was the song that even notably tough music critics like Joe Budden rapped the lyrics in a show of appreciation on his podcast.

Ice Spice told Rolling Stone of writing the song, "I was recording in my room and I was like, 'Let me make a song fast. As fast as possible.'"

Not only were the top music critics unable to stop talking about Ice Spice or get the earworm out of their heads, so too were major publications writing about the budding rapper, such as The Washington Post and Pitchfork.

She's been called 'the People's Princess'

After the track "Munch" went viral in summer 2022 and brought Ice Spice to worldwide attention outside of the Bronx rap scene, her popularity among fans exploded. To her apparent surprise, her fan base began to refer to her as "The People's Princess," which is a direct reference to another famous royal, Princess Diana.

The famous rapper told Billboard, "I saw all of my supporters being like, 'She's the People's Princess! She's Princess Diana!'" Ice Spice says that the comparison "confused" her at first, but she's since gone on to embrace the nickname and the reference to the beloved Princess Diana, taking it as a compliment.

The comparison to Princess Diana has been referenced by other outlets like Dazed, whose reporter noted that Ice Spice was "poised and polished" in their interview, with the star "giving responses with a non-committal grace that resembles the kind of beloved royal she is jokingly compared to."

She wrote a track with Nicki Minaj called Princess Diana

The reference to being nicknamed the People's Princess led Ice Spice to collaborate on a track with another famous rapper, Nicki Minaj. The track was aptly called "Princess Diana" in a direct reference to the comparison to the late Princess of Wales. 

"Princess Diana" was released in April 2023 on Ice Spice's debut EP "Like..?" The song's lyrics are all about feminine confidence, the protagonist keeping her head high among swirling gossip, with references to the royal family throughout: "Live from London, straight from the palace."

The video with Nicki Minaj was uploaded to Ice Spice's YouTube channel in April 2023, and in just a couple of weeks, the video had almost 30 million views. This incredible view count underscored not only the true popularity and staying power of the People's Princess but just how powerful a collaboration with Nicki Minaj was for Ice Spice.

She is working with the biggest music superstars in the world

Ice Spice revealed in an interview with Apple Music that the successful collaboration with Nicki Minaj led her to absorb advice and guidance from the fellow New Yorker and listen to her as she navigates her way through the industry.

Since then, Ice Spice has gone on to work with some of the biggest names in the music industry, even outside of the rap and hip-hop genres. The "Princess Diana" singer went on to reveal that she talks to Canadian music mogul Drake "all the time," arguably one of the biggest names in music. She often asks him for advice.

But the People's Princess recalls crying when her manager told her that one of the world's biggest superstars wanted to speak with her about another collaboration: Taylor Swift. Since that phone call, Ice Spice and Taylor Swift have not only collaborated on a track, a remix of Swift's "Karma," but performed on stage together as well. Ice Spice told Apple Music that she and Swift also text regularly, and that the global superstar is incredibly humble and nice.

Ice Spice made her mark on the blockbuster Barbie

In continuation of Ice Spice's rise to the upper echelons of music fame and celebrity, she debuted a new single in summer 2023 for arguably the biggest blockbuster event of the summer: the toy-inspired movie "Barbie."

The track, entitled "Barbie World (with Aqua)," features Ice Spice along with former collaborator Nicki Minaj and a sample from the iconic Aqua song in a glossy pink music video that The Guardian called a glitzy "109 seconds of pure plastic bliss," further cementing Ice Spice's place in the music industry and her status among pop music's elite.

Swapping out her signature red locks for hot pink tresses at points, Ice Spice raps about what it's like to be a Barbie girl in a Barbie world as she and Nicki Minaj zip around on Barbie-pink jetskis among a cotton-candy-colored sky. Given the level of buzz surrounding one of the summer's biggest movie events, Ice Spice's involvement with the franchise proves she's a go-to celebrity that transcends her place in music.

Brands are beating down her door

Not only is Hollywood inviting rap's latest "it girl" to have a seat at the table and work on some of the biggest projects this year, but brands and fashion labels alike are collaborating with Ice Spice on some pretty lucrative campaigns that include shoes, high fashion, and shapewear. 

The rapper was sitting in the front row at shows during New York Fashion Week in 2023. Brands that have asked Ice Spice to represent them in 2023 alone include Ivy Park's collaboration with Adidas. If it weren't enough to have been offered collaborations with Beyoncé via Ivy Park, Ice Spice then made her debut as a Skims model for Kim Kardashian's brand. Additionally, Ice Spice was a brand ambassador for fashion icon Marc Jacobs in the spring of 2023. 

Now that major brands, Hollywood, and the music industry are firmly within her grasp, Ice Spice, aka Isis Naija Gaston, has truly undergone a complete evolution from a girl from the Bronx to truly being "the People's Princess."