Some six years after his Jamaican dancehall-derived single “Informer” topped charts around the world, Canadian artist Snow is putting the finishing touches on a reggae-based pop/rock album that he hopes will return him to the charts.
Even though the follow-ups to that 1993 breakthrough fizzled, Snow is intent on revitalizing his career and wats to let his detractors know that his much-publicized liquor-soaked, hell-raising days are behind him.
“I love [music] and hope I can now have a career at it,” says the soft-spoken Snow, married and with a 3-year-old daughter. “I used to have only one foot in the [music] industry. Now, I want to put two feet in. Eleven months ago, I quit drinking. I’ve realized I have to stay out of trouble and focus on music.”
In March, Snow (real name Darrin O’Brien) signed a deal with JVC Records of Japan, which will release an as-yet-untitled 13-song album in that country and the rest of Asia. Snow is looking to license the album elsewhere.
Recorded at Snow’s home studio, the tracks were produced and written by Snow with longtime New York-based collaborator M.C. Shan and Nashville-based producer/engineer Glenn Rosenstein.
A day in court proved to be an uncharacteristically positive experience for Toronto reggae-dancehall rapper Snow last week.
After four years, a New York State appeals court finally threw out a $1.5 million jury verdict against the kid from the Scarborough projects who had a multi-platinum hit five years ago with the hard-to-decipher Informer.
‘It’s great it’s over,’ says Snow, a.k.a. Darrin O’Brien. ‘I’ve been trying to put it out of my mind, but it kept haunting me.’
The suit was launched by a former friend Marvin Prince, who argued that he’d helped develop Snow’s career. A jury awarded Prince the $1.5 mil in mid-’97, but the award was reduced as ‘excessive’ a few months later. Last week, the court went one step further, dismissing all liability.
COURT OVERTURNS $1.5 MILLION JUDGMENT
Juno-Award winner and rap/reggae singer Snow is off the hook after a court in New York overturned a jury’s order to pay $1.5 million (U.S.) to his former friend and associate.
In 1994, DJ Marvin Prince sued Snow, who was born Darrin O’Brien, for breach of agreement and damages claiming he was never fully compensated for his role in turning O’Brien into a star.
Snow’s 1993 debut, 12 Inches Of Snow, sold three million copies worldwide and his smash hit ”Informer” spent seven weeks at Number 1.
His troubled life inspired much of the album, which was released as he finished serving a year in jail for assault.
In 1997, an 11-member jury awarded Prince $2.1 million, an approximation of the value of his services. At the time, Snow’s managers and record label were based in New York.
The idea of a white guy from Canada named Snow singing reggae raised plenty of eyebrows when “Informer” came out in 1993.
Especially since the rise and fall of rapper – some would say novelty act – Vanilla Ice was still fresh in people’s minds.
But once most ears heard the Toronto dancehall reggae artist’s rapid-fire delivery (the video for “Informer” had subtitles) and smooth singing, there was no denying the music came from a real place.
His brushes with the law and general tough times in the housing project where he used to live in Toronto added to his mystique.
Otherwise known as Darrin O’Brien, Snow, 27, has made plenty of trips to Jamaica since dropping his multi-platinum single, “Informer” and his triple platinum (300,000 copies) debut album, 12 Inches Of Snow.
Despite being dissed into that special section of hell only white rap stars seem to occupy, Snow – aka Darrin O’Brien – is relatively happy with the way his life has been going lately.
“The key word here is positive,” he says during a recent phone interview, his two-year-old daughter burbling in the background. “Positive music is the music of the ’90s.”
This can’t be the same guy who wrote Informer, a bitter rant disguised as a Jamaican dance-hall ditty, from a jail cell. Since that first huge hit, there have been more newspaper articles about Snow’s alleged crimes than his rhymes – assault, attempted murder, uttering death threats, and we haven’t even touched on the traffic tickets.
Insisting that it’s all behind him now, Snow named both his daughter and his latest album Justuss, because, as he explains, “I never had justice before, so this was the first justice I really had. Justice was never in my corner. All the time I got in trouble.”