Phantom Songs: Snow – “Informer”

snow-12-inches-of-snow-frontPhantom Songs is an ongoing series of musical pieces that you can’t quite put your finger on. You have most definitely heard the song before, but are most likely not able to pinpoint who made it, when it was released, and/or what the song is really about. All of the artist’s history and biography was either stolen from wikipedia or made up entirely.

The early 1990s were all about fakery. Vanilla Ice claimed to be from the hood, Milli Vanilli pretended to sing, and we all thought Right Said Fred was able to rip any shirt [which was easily disproven]. A very hot commodity in that time were musicians that pretended to be of a different race. While Darius Rucker pretended to be white, the pasty blokes of UB40 became America’s hottest reggae act. It only made sense for somebody to take it to the next level.

Enter: Snow, a reggae artisan that has the disposition of some guy at your poker table that claims to sell blow but conveniently never has any. Born in the “ghetto” of Toronto, Snow spent most of his time in the basement, or surely doing all sorts of ill shit. Shooting dice, eating Cracker Jacks, playing Jacks, rolling Marbles, bang, boom, pow, it’s fucking Toronto, you get the idea. But he was the only white boy on his block that could spit out some real reggae verses and he was soon discovered by a man that had dollar signs for eyes. He was whisked away to New York, where a grand scheme was made.

The following can’t be confirmed nor denied. What we do know is that Snow signed to Elektra records and was then swiftly arrested for assault. This was coming from an era when the Bad Boy always won. It seems obvious to me that he was paid to go to jail. It was all a publicity stunt. They paid some guy 500 bucks to get his ass kicked by a trained professional and then testify that it was Snow that did the dirty deed. He spent a year in prison as a nobody, but he knew that as soon as he emerged, he would be a star.

His breakthrough hit was released shortly after his own personal release, an ear-cringing soliloquy telling the tale of his arrest. But of course, it was “written” and “recorded” well before this happened. Is it a coincidence, a ruse or part of an even larger conspiracy? Let’s find out.

What’s up man, hey yo what’s up
Yeah what’s going on here?
Sick and tired of 5-0 running up on the block here
You know what I’m saying?
Yo, Snow they came around here looking for you the other day
Word, word, bust it!

This is clearly a recorded conversation made right before Snow was arrested. He appears to be talking to his partner in grime, MC Shan. And how exactly was this recorded? Shan had to had been wearing a wire. Fuggin snitch.

Informer, you no say: “daddy, me Snow, me I’ll go blame”
A licky boom-boom down!
Detective-mon said daddy me Snow me stab someone down the lane
I lick he bum-bum down!

With all the double-negatives, it seems that he’s speaking in code. He’s talking directly to the person who snitched on him, quite possibly MC Shan. He claims that the snitch does not say that he’s Snow and he’ll go blame. Wait, what? Why would the informer, who is clearly not Snow, claim to be Snow and then go snitch? He’s snitching as Snow. But no, Snow knows that the informer would ever say that. Right. So we can assess that he respects the Informer, because he knows that he would never impersonate another person in order to snitch. That’s a good quality for an Informer to have. Respectable. So then a Detective comes up to Snow and claims to be Snow and also admits that he stabbed someone. So…the detective just framed Snow? If that’s the case, why is this song about the Informer?

Police them come and now they blow down me door
One him come crawl through through my window
So then they put me in the back the car at the station
From that point on me reach my destination
When the destination reached it was the east detention
Where them whipped down me pants looked up me bottom so

This verse is a cut and dry retelling of what happens when you go to jail for crimes. Although, the last line is slightly troubling. Did he get buttraped in jail? Is that what he’s claiming? Or was it a cavity search? Both? I’m sorry, but when you’re trying to sound like a badass, you don’t want the last line before the hook to be about things going up your ass. Not cool, Snow. Me go blame.

Bigger they are they think they have more power
They’re on the phone me say that on (every) hour
Me for want to use it once an’ now me call me lover
Lover who I’ll be callin is the one Tammy
An’ me love her in me heart down to my belly
Yes me daddy me Snow me I feel cool and deadly
As the one MC Shan an’ the one daddy Snow
Together we-a love ’em as a Tor-Na-Do

He’s still in jail, stewing, losing his mind. He misses his main hoe, Tammy. That’s relatable. He loves her from his heart to his belly, which is a cool 8-10 inches. That’s not much space for love storage. You know why? Because Snow doesn’t need much space for love. He’s cool and deadly. But if he can combine his love capacity with MC Shan’s bigger heart, they can love the whole world. Love them like a tornado, which is deadly and not loving all. They combine their love to make the ultimate hate. He’s losing his shit. Maybe he should convert to Islam like a normal person.

Listen for me you better listen for me now
When me rocking the microphone me rock it steady
Yes sir daddy me Snow me are the article don
But in the in an’ the out of a dance them they say where you come from
People them say you come from Jamaica
But me born an’ raised in the ghetto that’s the one I want you to know
Pure black people, mon that’s all I mon know
Yeah me shoes are tear up an’ me toes used to show
Where me born in on the one Toronto so

You would think that he’d have more interesting stories about prison, but instead, he skee-bops his entire life story in one verse. He’s just talking himself up, trying to solidify the claims that:

1) He’s cool
2) People think he’s Jamaican
3) He’s actually from a worse place, the mean streets of Toronto
4) Despite being from Canada, the only people he knows are pure black ones.
5) Pure black is an actual descriptor
6) His shoes are tattered and scraped
7) His shoes represent Toronto
8) He’s the article don, whatever the fuck that is

Come with a nice young lady
Intelligent, yes she’s gentle and irie
Everywhere me go me never left her at all
Yes its daddy Snow me are the roam dance mon
Roam between a dancing in a in a nation-a
You never know say daddy me Snow me are the Boom Shakata
Me never lay-a down flat in that one cardboard box
Yes say me Daddy me Snow me I’ll go reaching at the top, so

So I guess he’s just not gonna talk about jail anymore. Whatever. Instead, he’s talking about his girl again. But it might be a different girl, because this one he claims to had never left at all. He also makes claims of being a drifter, but not a hobo. There’s a difference. See, he roams around the world, dancing and mating. But he never once tried to take a girl to the moon while chilling in a cardboard box. His cardboard box is more of a man cave. Once again, I can’t believe a single word of this. Does this girl follow him around, or is he just talking about women in general? How can he travel around the world while never leaving this girl? Why does he even mention her when the rest of the verse negates her existence? What kind of misogynistic shit is he trying to pull here?

I can’t tell if this song is actually telling a tale or if it’s just hype fodder for the up-and-coming lad. Let’s see what MC Shan has to say about it all:

Me sitting ’round cool with Annotatemy dibbie-dibbie girl
Police knock my door, lick up my pal
Rough me up and I can’t do a thing
Pick up my line when my telephone ring
Take me to the station black up my hands
Trail me down cause I’m hanging with the Snowman
What I’m gonna do? I’m backed and I’m trapped
Slap me in the face and took all of my gap
They have no clues and they wanna get warmer
But Shan won’t turn informer

Shan opens up old wounds by telling his side of the arrest story. He claims that the police took him downtown and wanted him to snitch on Snow. But he didn’t do it. It all makes sense now. You see, the Informer doesn’t exist. He’s just speaking about the general character of Informer and about how he would never do it in that situation. Fact is, Snow was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. He saw a detective kill a guy and then he caught the rap for it. And oh, did he rap.

When it was all said and done, “Informer” became the best selling Reggae song in American history. After accomplishing a feat like that, he probably figured there was no use in trying again. He got mad paid and never had a brush-up with the law again. Instead, he took up teaching reggae music to undercultured Québécois youths. We may never know if his stint in jail was a fixed publicity stunt or not, but what we do know is that you should never impersonate Snow while blaming.

A licky boom-boom down.