The only thing you can say for sure about "Informer," the unsinkable Number One reggae novelty by white Toronto toaster Snow, is that it somehow involves a stool pigeon. For all we know, Snow might be imagining he's John Gotti getting back at Sammy "the Bull" Gravano. Packed between preposterous "icky boom boom" chants and cryptic lines about tornadoes, there's stuff about being spied on and strip-searched. When you factor in the song's back-alley-gang grunts and swinging horn riffs, you get the catchiest and funniest reggae crossover since Musical Youth's comparably nonsensical "Pass the Dutchie" a decade ago.
Avoiding the singsong monotony of most dance hall, "Informer" actually feels more like the outlaw comedy initiated by rude boys Prince Buster and Desmond Dekker in the late Sixties. Snow could be Johnny Too Bad, walking down the road with a ratchet at his waist. On 12 Inches of Snow, other ragamuffin raps like "Champion Sound" and "Drunken Styles" are only slightly less furious, punctuated with frog-voiced hiccups and squeals. Desolate teenage laments like "Lady With the Red Dress" and "Lonely Monday Morning" find Snow mixing dexterous patois with the nasal minor-key undulations of Algerian rai. "Uhh in You" is a yummy note-for-note copy of Color Me Badd's "All 4 Love," and on "Creative Child," Snow declares his Irish heritage in the same wobbly staccato that his fellow shamrock fans in House of Pain borrowed from rapper Chubb Rock in "Jump Around" last year. In "Ease Up," Snow tears a page from the Jackson 5's "The Love You Save," lecturing a former sandbox sweetheart who's since turned to dope and prostitution on the evils of the fast lane.
Snow gives purists a lot to object to not just the catholicity of his sound but his ill-fitting sunglasses and greasy kid stuff, even the color of his skin. Here's hoping he ignores the dumb complaints and weathers the storms of fame better than Vanilla Ice. (RS 656)
(Posted: May 13, 1993)
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