Snow – Informer

Release Date: Mar 93
Chart Position: 2

Gouldy
Hmmm, MC Shan seems a bit agitated, I wonder what’s up with him? Ah, it seems there’s been regular occurrences of police harassment in the area as the search steps up for uber-criminal Snow, he must be a fearsome man to garner this much police attention. Hold on, that’s Brian Austin Green with glasses on, hardly Ronnie Biggs, the Toronto police must be having a slow day.
It appears Daddy Snow has been falsely accused of stabbing someone down the lane (gay code), the police don’t seem bothered about evidence and have picked up Snow, taken him to the police station where they ‘Looked down me pants, look up me bottom’ (gayer code) and he’s now been incarcerated without charge, evidence and being denied his basic legal rights, it’s a neggae version of Guantanamo Bay. That’s the ‘story’ behind the song done, hardly Dickens but it does have a sort of narrative flow.
Basically this song is pretty dodge, first is Snow, the Canadian neggae artist who’s fairly incomprehensible at best, he also seems unhappy in his skin and claims he’s often mistaken as being a native of Jamaica, which I somehow doubt unless his only two friends in the world are Bob Wilson and Michael Barrymore. He then goes onto make the claim, beloved of racists the world over, ‘Pure black people mon is all I mon know.’. If this outlandish claim turns out to be true I can’t help thinking his role in the friendship is similar to that of Butters in South Park, they’re just using you for your specsavers vouchers mon. Then right at the end his mate MC Shan gets in on the act, with one of the worst raps ever committed to vinyl, it’s about 30 seconds long and he’s not even bothered to make most of it rhyme, Pam Ayres spits better shit than this.
The production is basically commercial hip-hop by numbers, nice little horn sample though and to be fair the bass is pure neggae. A quick recap then:

  • Weird confused white Canadian toaster
  • Token shit rap
  • Unimaginative production

Now mix this all together and somehow you’ve got a neggae classic. It works, I’ve no idea how but it does, it’s guaranteed to light up the dance floor of any small regional nightclub on a Thursday night and send neon plastic pint glasses skittering to the floor in appreciation.
Score: 7/10 – It’s like McDonalds, I know I shouldn’t like it, but I do. Jim Carrey doesn’t concur.

Vince
Cruelly kept off number one by a re-release from the Bluebells, this should have been our 2nd Neggae chart-topper. Snow also has the accolade of being our only exponent of Neggae’s Canadian cousin, Negg-eh?
Unfortunately the combination of a witty VW golf advert and former Blitz kids in their mid-thirties buying Young at Heart in droves left Snow stranded at No. 2. It denied him the chance to be the first Canadian since Terry Jacks to top the UK charts, although Maple-pop would dominate again through the fine work of Celine Dion and Justin Bieber.
There is a lot to like about this record. It uses a slowed down Amen break sample that dominated hip-hop and would go on to form the spine of many a Jungle banger. There are beautiful, dubby keys on the off-beat and a massive, contagious horn sample. With the addition of shouty noises nicked from an old Commodores record this song works just fine as an instrumental.
Throw in Snow’s rap however, and you’ve got a hit in your hands. Again, the playground factor has to be taken into account. Any schoolboy wag worth is salt around this time knew the correct procedure after administering a bumskin or wedgie was to run away hollering “a licky bumbum down!”  I didn’t buy this record, as my big brother JohnJohn got it on 12 inch. In attempting to learn the rap off by heart though I played the f*ck out of it whenever he was out of the house. So John if you’re reading, all those scratches and dinks that mysteriously appeared after a while were from me. Sorry about that.
Now I love the low, guttural growl of your men like the Elephant and Beenie, but there’s definitely a place for Snow’s more melodic half sung, half-toasted ‘tenor stylee’. You can hear similarities in the later works of Matisyahu and Demolition Man. I’m not saying that Snow was a pioneer (I’m sure there are antecedents), but this Skanking Canuck sure could sing irie. MC Shan’s rap is mediocre at best, but seeing as he paid for the studio time I don’t think Snow could argue.
Although the video is your standard MTV-glossy-goodboy-gone-bad fare, Snow did have a bit of previous. An assault charge and subsequent prison spell provided the narrative for Informer. So when it comes to identifying soft suburban rappers appearing to play the badman you can’t always judge a book by its cover. Unless it’s 2Pac of course, and then you’d be correct.
Score: 9/10

Norm
OK, so I never really listened to the lyrics when this was in the charts. I did however enjoy the beats.
Snow gives us another solid neggae effort to pick us up from Maxi. Canada is probably not the first country that would spring to mind when you think of reggae, neggae or much else musical but it appears that Darrin Kenneth O’Brien aka Snow snuck in under the radar and created an unforgettable tune, ingrained in our nemory (neggae memory) forever. His island tones can be attributed to his Jamaican pals that made their way to Toronto. They gave him his name, I think you can put two and two together and figure out how they came up with it.
The video is pretty cheesy with some Apache Indian like hand movements, dodgy attire and a generic white mans haircut. I’m not sure exactly what the ladies bring to the table but I suppose it doesn’t qualify as neggae if there isn’t at least a few ladies thrusting their hips and showing off their rear bumper.
It’s a lively tune that keeps you involved throughout, head bobbing, maybe a finger wag every time he says “INFORMER”. If you don’t dissect it too much, we can call it a winner. If we do dissect it, we can see that he’s a fairly troubled individual that has a checkered past with the police and is a little on the bitter side. I’m sure that his spell in the clink was a distant memory when his song was topping the charts all over the world and he now has a greater respect for law enforcement.
Score: I’ll give it a thumbs up 7/10 as I still turn it up when it comes on the radio.

Jonny
I remember this well and at the time for some reason considered this ‘edgy’, I’m not sure I would say the same almost 20 years later, but I like it none the less. It brings back some fond memories of early 93 and enjoying neggae as it continued to dominate the charts week after week. Right from the off we know what we are in for and keeps going at a frantic pace – frantic for neggae anyway. The lyrics are nonsensical and I always thought that the chorus was “I’ll lick your boom booms now”, which I was confused about but found amusing. I was slightly disappointed while reviewing this to find that this is not what he’s saying; think he should have gone with my version.
The tune is very catchy and one of those that will stick in your mind all day and you’ll find yourself humming it at work. The young Spanish lady who sits next to me caught me humming it today and asked me what it was. I showed her the video online, her face screwed up and with a confused look asked “what is this?” I responded with an almost furious “you don’t understand, you were’t there”. I bet she’ll be humming the Macerena tomorrow and she’ll find out what I reckon of that anthem. Sorry, I digress….
I don’t know about the video? I’m not sure if its really good or really bad? To start with its a bit Ali G and Snow looks like he’s trying very hard to look gangster, don’t think he’s succeeding. There are an awful lot of hand movements and rapping gestures, I like this and enjoy watching his hands almost breakdancing. It also includes some pretty textbook booty action which is an absolute must. What’s he in prison for? I can’t imagine there is much crime where he’s from, in fact Canada has a very low crime rate, one of the lowest on the world. It must have been insurance fraud or some corporate crime?
Score: It’s a 7/10 from me – you can lick my boom booms now!

Jamie
A terrible terrible song.
I remember it being a hit with my 12 year old peers and this was probably due to the chorus reference of “licking your bumbum da-own”. Toilet humour at best from a man who bills himself as being a Canadian Reggae artist. Snow is probably not even amongst the 100 greatest exports ever to come out of the land of the Maypole leaf. Less interesting than the Reindeer Burger and even more annoying than Paul Anka.
The backing music is inoffensive and it has a decent beat. Although mediocre, M.C Shan raps with clarity to give the song some light and shade. For me though, the nonsensical ramblings of Irish Canadian Darrin Kenneth O’Brien are painful on the ear and have no place in Reggae or Neggae. Daddy Snow sounds like the drunken commentator at a pikey horse and cart race on the A1 to Portsmouth.
Score: If you ask me, the wrong man got stabbed down the la-a-a-ane. 2 out of 10.

NEGGAE SCORE: 6.4

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