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Popdose Flashback 1993: Snow, “Informer”

Flashback93

Dw Dunphy – So, Chris. When you think of the music of the early 1990s — say, 1993 — what immediately springs to mind?

Chris Holmes – I remember thinking, “Oh God, I’m gonna have to hear this shit again when I come back for my high school reunion.” Mainly, though, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. What do I win?

Dw – “Win” is such a subjective term. In fact, on the pop charts for ’93, none of these made top ten. In fact, there are few times when the top of the charts and what is perceived as the most popular stuff of the day diverges so much.

Chris – Then I’m doubly lost, because by the time ’93 and ’94 rolled around I was severely out of touch with just about all popular music. I was pretty much firmly entrenched in classic rock and metal by that point, and just about to start getting into prog.

Needless to say, I had little in common with my classmates from a cultural perspective. Just one of the reasons why my Friday and Saturday nights were not socially active, to the say the least.

Dw – Ah, then this will probably be all the more painful. All twelve inches of it.

Mental note: Jeff Giles hates Alf.

Mental note: Jeff Giles hates Alf.

Chris – Milton Berle had a hit in the ’90s???

Dw – Was Milton Berle a white rapping Canadian? If he was, that would have been AWESOME.

Chris – Oh God, I think I know where this is going now. And I’m not talking about the rap section of Rush’s “Roll the Bones.”

Dw – Yes, in 1993 the legend that was Snow ravished a world (or at least the U.S. part of it) dying for a white Canadian reggaeton superstar.

Chris – Yup, I was right. What the hell is reggaeton anyway?

Dw – Pfeh, beats me. Like this song which saps my will to live. If you need a refresher, I can send it to you. I picked it up from Amazon from money Jeff sent me. It was supposed to be reimbursement for some press release sends, but he added the message “and for that Alf picture…”

Chris – I’m pretty sure my anti-virus program will wipe any trace of that song from my hard drive. But just for the sake of sounding informed, I’ll go check it out on YouTube. Be right back…

 

Chris – Yup, that was as rotten as I remembered. Actually, the music’s not too bad but I kept wanting him to just get to the “licky boom boom down” part, or whatever the hell he says. All I know is I now have the urge to both watch In Living Color and punch Brian Austin Green in the throat.

Dw – And thus the reason for my madness. I think we need to pull the lyrics and translate them for the benefit of our readership, don’t you?

Chris – You mean there are lyrics? I just assumed he was skatting the whole time, or the reggaeton equivalent. I actually got more out of it this time than I did in hearing it a few decades ago. I guess he was in jail at some point because someone informed on him. And for once, I’m with the snitch. Still, it’s hard to be too intimidated by a guy wearing those delicately positioned, fashion-forward ’90s glasses.

Dw – There must be lyrics in there somewhere. I used to speak fluent gibbering jack-ass. Now I don’t gibber as much anymore. I also feel this is the perfect moment to discuss the social impact “Informer” had on the culture as well as on popular music.

Chris – You mean how it brought to light the struggles of white guys living in the brutal North York section of Toronto?

Or this?

Dw – Actually I was going to say that Snow’s usage of those fashion-forward eyeglasses depressed the market and forced many companies to go out of business (thanks a hell of a lot, Snow!), but we’ll go with yours…

OBLIGATORY POSTING OF LYRICS

“Informer”

[CHORUS:]
Informer
You know say Daddy Snow me, I’m gonna blame
A licky boom-boom down
‘Tective man says Daddy Snow stabbed someone down the lane
A licky boom-boom down
Informer
You know say Daddy Snow me, I’m gonna blame
A licky boom-boom down
‘Tective man says Daddy Snow stabbed someone down the lane
A licky boom-boom down

Police-a them-a they come and-a they blow down me door
One him come crawl through through my window
So they put me in the back of the car at the station
From that point on I reach my destination
Now the destination reached was the East Detention
Where they whipped down my pants and looked up my bottom

[CHORUS]

The bigger they are they think they have more power
They’re on the phone me say that on hour
Me for want to use it once to call my lover
Lover who I’m gonna call is the one Tammy
I love her from my heart down to my belly
Yes Daddy Snow, I’m the coolest daddy
The one MC Shan and the one that is Snow
Together we are like a tornado

[CHORUS]

Listen for me ya better listen for me now
Listen for me ya better listen for me now
When I rock the microphone, I rock it steady
Yes sir Daddy Snow me are the Article Don
When I’m at a dance they say, “Where you come from?”
People then say I come from Jamaica
But I’m born and raised in the ghetto
That’s all I want you to know
Pure black people man that’s all I man know
My shoes used to tear up and my toes used to show
Where I’m born is the one Toronto, so

[CHORUS]

Come with a nice young lady
Intelligent, yes she’s gentle and irie
Everywhere I go I’ve never left here at all
Yes, me Snow roam the dance
Roam the dance in every nation
You’d never know, me Daddy Snow
I am the Boom Shakata
I’ll never lay down flat in one cardboard box
Yes, me Daddy Snow I’m gonna reach to the top, so

[CHORUS]

Why would he? [repeat]

[MC Shan:]
Me sitting round cool with my dibby dibby 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 am I gonna do, I’m black and I’m trapped
Smack me in my face, took all of my gap
They have no clues and they wanna get warmer
But Shan won’t turn informer

Chris – Cripes. This guy was Drunk Hulk before there was a Drunk Hulk. Although I do like the part where they took him to the police station and looked up his bottom. That’s some pretty racy stuff for a Top 10 hit, and I’m sure 99% of people who heard the song had no idea he was saying it.

So I’m looking at the Billboard charts from ’93, when “Informer” was #1 for seven weeks. SEVEN. One of the songs it kept out of the top spot was Dr. Dre’s “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang.” How seething with rage do you suppose Dre was over that?

Dw – Dunno. Guess that depends on how much weed Snoop had on him at the time. I read those lyrics and just felt sad. So sad. So very sad. It’s like all the sadness Robert Smith couldn’t cope with.

Chris – So tell me Dw, other than the fact that you clearly hate me, why would you make me think about this song again?

Dw – First, it celebrates its 20th anniversary. Let us now marinate in that thought a moment, eh?

Chris – So it’s old enough to drink (in Canada), which it probably does non-stop to drown the overwhelming sense of shame it must feel.

Dw – It gets better. For the year, not only did the song deny Dre into the Top Ten, here are some other songs that “Informer” did better than, for the year 1993: The Proclaimers – “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”; Tears For Fears – “Break It Down Again”; Gin Blossoms – “Hey Jealousy”; Duran Duran – “Come Undone” and “Ordinary World”; and P.M. Dawn – “I’d Die Without You” and “Looking Through Patient Eyes.”

Albums that were released in the year that might have been hits had “Informer” not stopped up the works like a bloated cadaver in a drainpipe are: Nirvana’s In Utero; Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream; Pearl Jam Vs.; Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) by Wu-Tang Clan; August And Everything After, the Counting Crows debut; and Blur’s Modern Life Is Rubbish…and it goes on and on.

Chris – Alright, I’ll grant him some leeway on that Proclaimers song. That shit is more insipid than the theme song to one of my son’s favorite TV show theme songs.

Dw – Point taken. Please have “The Proclaimers” stricken from the record. It’s all to say that as dumb as we as a consumer culture think we are in 2013, in 1993 in the midst of a cultural/counter-cultural uprising in popular music, we still couldn’t do better than make “Informer” the tenth most popular song for the entire year…which depresses me.

But I think I have an idea that could cheer me up.

Chris – Why do I get the feeling that this involves something that will make me miserable?

Dw – Not you. Why don’t we send it to Jason through iTunes and rig it to look like it came from Jeff?

Chris – You know I’m down with that.