Life according to Snow: “I don’t have to be nothing I don’t want to be.”
And who is Snow? A white, Irish, Canadian-born, 23-year-old dance hall rapper who’s responsible for Informer, the No. 1 single on the Billboard charts for the past three weeks.
Being white in a black-dominated rap world is no problem, he says. “Nobody’s dissed me yet.”
Yes, Vanilla Ice comes to mind. Snow knows that.
“I haven’t talked to him,” he says. “He did his thing … People just killed him.”
Does Snow (real name: Darrin O’Brien) worry about the same fate?
“If they do, that’s what’s going to come. I’ll keep putting out good music so they can’t kill me.”
Informer’s popularity speaks for itself. It doesn’t seem to matter that the lyrics are incomprehensible because of Snow’s rapid-fire Jamaican patois – in what is reggae’s answer to rap. (The video, he points out, has the words typed out across the bottom.)
The Jamaican influence is from “Jamaicans who lived in my neighborhood,” a working-class area of Toronto, he says. “They’re my friends. We’re all cool.”
Growing up, he fantasized a lot. “I was Bruce Lee when I was a kid. I was Kiss. I was everybody.”
Then he became Snow. Informer is a hit, he says, because it’s “catchy.”
He wrote it when he was in jail. He’s done time twice: once for attempted murder and once for assault.
What was jail like?
“It’s not worth being there. It’s sick and boring.”
That could be partly why his stuff isn’t encouraging violence or seething with rage.
“I don’t support all that gangster stuff,” says Snow. “I just do my own stuff.”
He tells kids to stay clean.
“I preach to ’em. I always tell ’em to go to school.”
“Nah. It wasn’t really for me. I just didn’t get along with it.”
When did he drop out?
“Grade 8. That’s the grade I finished. I went to basic 9, basic 9, basic 9, and I kept failing, failing, failing. The last grade I completed was grade 8.”
How does he do his writing?
“I don’t even know. My mind is like, whatever’s on my mind I just do it. We’ll be listening to the beat and then I’ll just come up with something.”
Says Snow: “I can make the song in a minute. ”
Next, he’s got a single coming out called Girl I’ve Been Hurt. What’s that about?
“Just like, girl, I’ve been hurt. Now I need another lover,” he explains, speaking the lyrics.
Have you been hurt?
“Only about 10 times.”
And has life changed for the rapper? Definitely different.
“A lot more friends.”
And how about fame and fortune?