Ini Kamoze – Here comes the Hotstepper

Pret-a-Porter video:

Original video:

Release Date: Jan 95
Chart Position: 4

Vince
Let’s get this straight from the start – this is the greatest Neggae boogie-monster song of all time. Academics may question it’s reggae credentials (which I will confirm later), but then academics should spend less time reading and writing and more time getting their swerve on. Let’s just check those opening samples shall we?

1. “Champ!-am!-a!-a!-a!” – opening war cry from Champ! by the Mohawks.
2. “Hit it!” Naughtiest boy in hip-hop Slick Rick with a line taken from La-di-da-di.
3. “Na-nana-nana... etc” Wilson Pickett’s song about his Nan (not technically a sample but you get what I mean).
4. “I’m coming” – scratched vocals from Bobby Byrd’s b-boy staple and then finally..
5. “Here comes the Hotstepper!” – not the vocals, but that bubbling, throbbing b-line lifted from Taana Garnder’s Heartbeat that carries the song along.
114129464

It is without doubt the greatest opening combination of samples in pop music. Better than De La. Better than Dre. And it was put together in career-defining fashion by Neggae uberproducer Salaam Remi. We’ve heard from Salaam before on the Neggae blog, finding his feet with Shabba on a couple of duffers. By this stage he’d clearly learnt his studio chops – and would go on to produce Nas and Amy Winehouse to name but a few.

“But is it really reggae?” I hear you cry.
Well I think it just about qualifies. For starters, this isn’t just any old hip-hop reggae crossover, with some American doing his best Jafaican patois. We are talking about the man like the Ini Kamoze, who’s skylark sing-song tone is 100% JA. The imagery too; “Juice like a Strawberry… Start like a JackRabbit..” – this isnt your standard hip-hop fare. It has more in common with the metaphorical lyrics common in roots reggae than urban motifs pedalled by your Marrows, Broaduses or Carters. Yes the beats are hip-hop but the overall feel is that of a Neggae dancer – it’s a piece of piss to mix into Could you be Loved by the way.
Standing on the two dolpins noses of Neggae and the Pret a Porter OST, Ini Kamoze glided into the Aquarium that is the British charts in early 1995, peaking at 4. The momentum ensured he singed a beefy contract with Universal after years of pop wilderness. In 2005 he would earn another bumper paycheque as Damian Marley would sample his seminal 1981 cut World A Music on Welcome to Jamrock. Here at Neggae Towers we reckon there was a Neggae revival around the early noughties (Neggae 2.0) – with Sean Paul, Wayne Wonder, Kevin Lyttle and Marley all regularly troubling the charts. It seems to go in 10 year cycles, so expect to hear from Ini shortly.
Score: 10 obviously.

Keith de Vivre
There was a nasty rumour on the negvine this week.
There was talk that we were going to be reviewing another CJ Lewis number (“Dollars”). Now, i’ve got nothing against CJ personally but considering i’m only here for a couple of weeks I thought it would be a bit much to have to sit through another make-weight. I’ve never heard “Dollars”. I don’t want to hear “Dollars” and, unless by some nasty quirk of fate by the neggae elders it gets chucked into the mix next week, I don’t plan on ever listening to “Dollars”. It’s probably shit.
“Here Comes the Hotstepper” on the other hand is anything but…
With a moniker sounding like some kind of Japanese streetwear brand from 2001 (the future), when you heard the name “Ini Kamoze” for the first time, you expected big things. A typical exchange in the spring of ’95 for instance would have been something like:
“Have you heard the new one by Ini Kamoze?”
“I haven’t. Ini Kamoze? Sounds big.”
And big it is. Gloss over the fact that it samples the arse out of about 12 other songs, this is a corker. I have two memories from when this song was doing the business in the ‘hit parade’:

Firstly: Chris Waddle.

waddle

For some reason it’s stuck in my head that the Waddler moseyed on to the set of Danny Baker’s (saturday night BBC1?) talk show to Ini. Seems strange to think Waddle was once a prime time chat show guest. Stranger still that Danny Baker never had another chat show.

Secondly: It soundtracked my first visit to the local “naughty pub”.

oaktavern

A sheepish 16 year old pup was I when I walked in with my sisters boyfriends (two sisters, separate boyfriends) for a midweek beer. Quivering round the pool table I went, scared to show the skills I had in case someone took umbrage with my talent. Then… Hotstepper came on and I was a man. Strutting round the table like I owned the place, necking bottles of K like it was water. I must have had at least 4! Probably had a bottle of Hooch as well – I didn’t care! That’s what this tune can do to you. It can make you a man.
What men don’t do though is watch films about the fashion industry. “Pret-a-Porter”…. jeez. A complete over-hyped turkey that justifiably bombed at the box office, it rode the coattails of Ini to get anyone to see it at all. Consequently, the video (the second of two made) is pointless movie tie-in filth of the highest order. To be fair, if i’d just made “Pret-a-porter” and watched it back for the first time, i’d have been on the blower to Ini straight away as well.

“Ini. I’ve made an absolute dog-dirt of a movie and I need your belter of a song to get the people in.”
“Yeeeeah, maaaan”.

My final score reflects this violation and so would have been marked higher, but when I think about the video now all I picture is Julia Roberts’ hairy pits. It’s not in the video, but it just does.

robertsScore: 8/10.

Norm
Here comes the Hotstepper by Ini Kamoze, probably my favourite tune on this blog, followed closely by Shaggy and Oh Carolina. Plain and simple, this song is BAD ASS (arse if you are reading this in the UK) The video is BAD ASS, the bassline is BAD ASS, everything about this is BAD ASS (That’s a good thing by the way!) There aren’t many songs that capture your attention and keep you hooked from start to finish, for me this is one of them. The first time I heard this on the radio it was a ‘holy hell’ type of moment. What is this? Who is this? So I make my way to Woolworths to make a strong purchase from Nick Birmingham. This single and some pick and mix later I’m in heaven. Back home this golden nugget of Neg got played over and over again the only way you can listen to this, LOUD and with a little bit of swagger. Yep, that’s how I was rollin’ back in the day. Ini Kamoze and Shaggy, the two beasts of the Neggae era. Definitely head bobbing material, a BBQ must, a nightclub must and Walkman favourite. Simply put, you could neck a bottle of mailbu during this song and all would be OK.
I’ve really lost track of my review here, damn. Unfortunately that’s what happens when I am forced to listen to one of my all time favourites. Yeah, it’s that good, had it playing at my wedding and my kids love this song, a timeless classic that will live on in my heart forever and ever, AMEN.
Score: Put me down for a 10/10

 Jonny
Unfortunately I am going to have to start this review with an apology. Last week I gave Pato and UB40 a 10/10 and yes I still believe that it is a good entry on the neg hot list, however I may have been a little hasty. I recall breathing a big sigh of relief that we were covering something half decent vs. the shit that had come our way in the preceding weeks and I think I let this cloud my judgement. I fell into Jamie Synan’s trap of letting my emotions rate the song vs. logical thinking, this was weak and I am sorry.
So on that note I will set my stall out early on this one. We either downgrade last weeks 10/10 to a 9.5/10 or Ini Kamoze’s entry (and my other full houses) are given an 11/10. This has to be given a superior rating.
The tune is mental and the infamous “nah, nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah” intro smashes you in the face like a Capri Sun popping after being held under pressure. Mock it if you will, but as the old and trusted “nah, nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah” is good enough for Macca, then its good enough for me. Without such simplistic bridges the musical world would be a very different place. This offering is about as banghra as I like my neg, any more and it would start to lose marks in my books, but the balance here is just right.
There is no arguing it has to be one of the best dance floor fillers that we have reviewed to date. This was big just around the time that Goldsworth Park started to commercialize the use of its community hall on the lake. I remember now on a few occasions through the summer of dread going to a number of discos there and for some reason specifically ‘hot stepping’ pretty hard to this with Norm. They had a bar that sold beer in cans, Hoffmeister and John Smiths only I think (its a little hazy), no draft or bottles. Somehow I remember that we managed to either get served or we stole a few and sat outside in the evening shade drinking warm Hoff. Life was pretty sweet! Everyone would drop  everything to hit the D Floor when the DJ played this gem! I believe I opted for a more traditional skank, where as Norm was a bit more flamboyant and took up a more intrusive strut that involved a knee bend of approx 30 degrees, one hand on the back of his head, the other hand out stretched pointing at girls as they walked past, all to a not so subtle gyrating of the hips, eyes closed of course. I can’t remember 100% the details, but I am almost certain we both went home alone those nights.
Score: An Absolute belter, only negative is that he didn’t manage to make anything else anywhere near as good as this – 10/10 from me (but assumes a downgraded Pato and the UB’s to 9.5/10)

Gouldy:
Having spent the last 3 days on a pilgrimage trying to find 2Unlimited in Amsterdam for the nance blog you’ll have to forgive me if this is a little flaky. This week we have a neggae first, Ini Kamoze is the first artist in the hot 90 to have named himself after the protuberance of his belly buttonnnnnnnnnnnnnn, AHHHH SPACE BATS!, *ahem*, sorry about that. When you find out his real name is Cecil it becomes apparent why, Cecil ain’t getting on no Greensleeves compilation.
The tune starts off with a clarion call to the dancefloor with a load of scratching then goes into ‘Buddy’, or is it ‘Doing our own dang’ or is it ‘Mony in the middle’? and therein lies my problem with the production;

  1. It’s hip hop production, not neggae;
  2. It sounds like something the Native Tongues would come up with in two minutes and give to PM Dawn, ‘here you go fatty, that’s got number 37 written all over it’.

Lyrically Ini is basically giving it the ‘Big I am’, he is the hotstepper (murderer),he’s a lyrical gangster (murderer) and he’s also very good at BBC quiz ‘Pointless’ (murderer)*. In fact the lyrics are stronger than the music, a neggae rarity as Ini sets out his stall as Neggae’s Marlo Stanfield.
The original video is shot in one of my old neighbourhoods, Sheerwater, where Ini seems to be the only person with running water. Even Newton Faulkner uses it at one point, I hope he’s remembered Ini now he’s made his fortune inflicting all that sickly, ginger shit dirge on the nation. However I’ve an important message to the young lady at 1m05, water isn’t going to clear up that yeast infection my dear, get down to boots and load up on vagisil. Ini is filmed in a load of questionable outfits throughout the video, it looks like the ‘Hotstepper’ look incorporated

  • Orange string vest;
  • Safari suit;
  • Massive black combat trousers;
  • Catepillar boots doen up so tightly the tongues resemble elongated shin pads.

Looking at this I can see why the youth were attracted to the parka and adidas stylings of Britpop, you can’t bust an orange string vest in Addlestone, you’ll be burned at the stake.
That’s me done for this week, I’m off to start my own tribe of pygmies and we’ll live down the Basingstoke Canal wearing the ears of our vanquished enemies as necklaces, I realise that might seem a bit strange but the Lizard King told me it’s the only way to get rid of Space Bats.
7/10 – more of a warm shuffle than hot step.

NEGGAE SCORE: 9

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