Vanilla Ice claims he helped Eminem become a successful rapper.

The 'Ice Ice Baby' star shot to fame with the hit single when he was just 16 years old and claims he ''paved the way'' for other white rappers such as the 'Slim Shady' hitmaker.

He said: ''I definitely opened doors and made it acceptable to get into hip-hop.

''White rappers are few and far between and, during that era, I made it possible to move into that genre and be very successful.''

The 46-year-old father of two suffered with depression during the early years of his career but continues to perform and work on new material and claims he ''doesn't care'' what people think.

When asked if it annoys him that rappers like Eminem claim they're ''nothing like him,'' Vanilla Ice - whose real name is Robert Van Winkle, said: ''I carved a way and it helped the industry, I don't care what anyone thinks.''

Opening up about his depression, the musician admitted that people didn't understand what he was going through.

He said: ''I had a hit with 'Ice Ice Baby' when I was just 16. People forgot that I was still just a child, but I was surrounded by artificial people, living an artificial life.

''I self-destructed ... You need to find the strength to continue and you need to surround yourself with real friends and family.''