While Hip-Hop has always has been musical heritage of African Americans artists, there are notable exceptions of whites who dare to try rapping. The following case is about a Canadian who created a fusion of Reggae and Hip-Hop, rapping with a speed that made everyone prick up their ears. It is Snow, with his hit Informer – a title that should never miss at any good trash party.
Darrin Kenneth O’Brien was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. At age 16 he moved to Ajax, Ontario, where he grew up in a culturally diverse neighborhood. The musical environment there was heavily influenced by dancehall and reggae, which was merged to rock and pop creating a very unique style. In 1988 , the Jamaican DJ Marvin Prince saw O’Brien rapping at a party and very soon they became friends. In the next five years they played music together,rapping over the beats created by Prince on the turntables. During a trip to New York, Marvin Prince introduced him to the rapper MC Shan, who in turn invited him to meet the Canadian producers David Eng and Steve Salem. Very soon Snow signed a contract with Motorjam / Elektra Records to release his first album “12 Inches of Snow” in 1993. The same album on which the song Informer appeared, being released as a single.
Shortly after Informer was launched, Snow was sentenced to one year in Jail for assault. While the Canadian was in jail, Informer became a hit. Informer managed to rank # 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, in the Eurochart Hot 100 and in Australia , Sweden, Switzerland, New Zealand, Germany , Ireland, Norway and , of course, his native Canada. Another interesting fact is that Informer appeared in the book of Guinness World Records twice: The best-selling reggae single in the U.S. history and the top-ranked reggae single in history.The album sold over eight million copies and the song was in the Billboard charts for seven consecutive weeks. A second single, Girl I’ve Been Hurt, reached # 19 in the Billboard Hot 100. But in 1994 , the outlooks for Snow were not very encouraging: While being on tour, DJ Marvin Prince discovered that Snow was taking most of the royalties. Prince argued that he co-wrote five songs and also co-produced the album with Shan, Eng and Salem. The MC and producers stated that they were unaware of the association between Snow and Prince and also denied that Prince has co-produced 12 Inches of Snow and co-authored five songs . The Court dismissed the application for Prince in terms that there was no “viable claims” for a partnership with Snow .
After the successful album 12 Inches of Snow, the Canadian rapper and David Eng expanded their horizons to Asia, where they hoped to find a new music market. Snow’s second album, Murder Love , appeared in 1995 after being recorded in Jamaica, Canada and New York. Although the album featured collaborations with Buju Banton, Sly and Robbie and Ninjaman, among other legends of reggae and dancehall it was not successful in the U.S.. After this , followed the Justuss ( 1997), The Greatest Hits of Snow ( 1997) and Cooler Conditions (1999 ), which could not rank on any chart list either. Snow then launched The Mind on the Moon ( EMI , 2000) and Two Hands Clapping (Virgin, 2002 ). The latest Snow is a 2009 song , Adore You.
Besides the musicals disappointments of the later years, Snow suffered personal loss: Tamei Edberg, his wife was diagnosed with cancer and died on November 27, 2009. Months later, Snow organized a charity event called Closure For Cancer. In addition, the Canadian opened an NGO called Pure Snow which assists “tenants living in non-profit housing”. Overall Snow in his native Canada is seen as a symbol of ethnic identity of their country, because he does not hide his race or nationality when it comes to making music – especially dancehall reggae. The last media attention Snow received was because of the fact that NSA leaker Edward Snowden and ’90s one-hit wonder look very alike. Also that Snow’s song was called informer and Snowden is an informant.