Who Is Ice Spice and Why Are Marines Suddenly Obsessed with Her?

U.S. Marines with an Ice Spice American flag in an undisclosed location. (via Terminal Lance)

Ice Spice may not be in the chain of command, but she may just be one of the most powerful forces in the Marine Corps right now.

Since gaining prominence with her breakout track "Munch (Feelin' U)" on addictive distraction machine TikTok in mid-2022, the Bronx, N.Y.-based rapper has taken the music world by storm. She's teamed with powerhouse Taylor Swift; sang the anthem "Barbie World" alongside Nicki Minaj as part of 2023's breakout summer blockbuster film, "Barbie"; and even climbed to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts with a collaboration with singer PinkPantheress, "Boy's a Liar Pt. 2."

Now, legions of Marines "stand ready to defend her against all enemies, foreign and domestic," according to social media posts that span X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, TikTok and even Reddit.

In recent months, photos of Marines posing with American flags with Ice Spice's face superimposed on them have increasingly cropped up on social media. A TikTok video from June shows Marines deployed to Okinawa, Japan, smiling alongside an Ice Spice flag during a training exercise; another TikTok from later that month showed a Marine in an undisclosed location curled up with his Ice Spice flag. And as recently as September, Ice Spice herself shared a photo on X showing a group of heavily armed Marines posing alongside a flag featuring her face. (Ice Spice's popularity isn't limited to the Marine Corps, of course: a July post to the Navy subreddit showed a group of sailors with a banner under a Phalanx Close-In Weapon System, or CIWS, on a warship.)

So who is Ice Spice, anyway? Born on New Year's Day in 2000, Isis Naija Gaston has said in interviews that she had interest in hip-hop at an early age thanks to her father's career as an underground rapper, drinking in songs from Lil Kim, Jay-Z and Wu-Tang Clan and adopting the the moniker "Ice Spice" at age 14 as the name for the secondary "Finsta" Instagram account she maintained at the time. She dropped her debut single "Bully Freestyle" in 2021 before striking a chord with listeners in August 2022 with the release "Munch (Feelin' U)." Since then, she's become pretty much ubiquitous in the entertainment world, characterized as a breakout Gen Z star and a "People's Princess" to her fans on par with a pop culture Princess Diana (a comparison she embraced with a 2023 collaboration with Minaj titled "Princess Diana.")

Ice Spice must know why Marines love her, even if she doesn't know why they love her. And like so many things in Marine Corps culture, the exact origins of Marines' sudden Ice Spice obsession remain shrouded in relative mystery. (Although, to be fair, the Corps does have the highest percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds, particularly in the enlisted ranks, which may indicate that her popularity is merely a reflection of her current generational appeal.)

As for flying an Ice Spice flag, this particular trend appears to have started with a March 2023 submission to popular comic strip Terminal Lance showing a large group of Marines posing with an Ice Spice banner at dusk.

"I was only passively familiar with Ice Spice, but then a Marine sent me a photo of them flying an Ice Spice flag, which I thought was hilarious," Terminal Lance creator Maximilian Uriarte told Military.com. "After I posted it, Marines started sending me more and more, and it just kind of became a thing."

Uriarte's assessment? "Marines stan Ice Spice, and we will defend her," he said.

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