|Birth name||Darrin Kenneth O'Brien|
October 30, 1969|
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|Genres||Reggae fusion, dancehall, hip hop|
|Occupation(s)||Singer, songwriter, musician, actor|
|Associated acts||MC Shan, Junior Reid, Ninjaman, Buju Banton, Yami Bolo, Cool & Dre, Fat Joe, Mykal Rose Dave McIntyre|
Darrin Kenneth O'Brien (born October 30, 1969), better known by his stage name Snow, is a Canadian reggae vocalist and recording artist best known for his 1992 single "Informer", which spent seven weeks at No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
- 1 Life and work
- 2 Origin of stage name
- 3 Legal dispute over production of 12 Inches of Snow
- 4 International success
- 5 2009–2013
- 6 2014–present
- 7 Television and film appearances
- 8 Ethnicity and Canadian identity
- 9 Discography
- 10 Awards and nominations
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Life and work
Snow was born and raised in the North York district of Toronto, Ontario. For much of his childhood, he lived in the Allenbury Gardens public housing project, and at the age of 17, moved to Ajax, Ontario. Growing up in a diverse neighbourhood, O'Brien blended dancehall and reggae with rock and popular music to create his own unique style of music. In 1988, Jamaican-born DJ Marvin Prince witnessed O'Brien deejaying at a party and the two quickly became friends. For the next few years, they practiced in Prince's basement with Snow providing vocals and Prince playing records. While on a trip to New York City, Prince mentioned Snow to rap star M.C. Shan. Shan then invited Snow to New York and introduced him to music producers, David Eng and Steve Salem. Snow eventually signed a contract to record on their Motorjam/Elektra record label and in 1993 released his debut album 12 Inches of Snow.
While Snow served prison time for an attempted murder charge, M.C. Shan, David Eng, Steve Salem, and Marvin Prince promoted the recordings. Upon his release from prison, Snow's first single "Informer", written by Snow, M.C. Shan, and Edmond Leary, became a chart-topping hit. The album sold over 8 million records worldwide, with the "Informer" single remaining number 1 on the American Billboard charts for seven consecutive weeks. "Informer" has been recorded twice in the Guinness Book of World Records as the best selling reggae single in US history, as well as the highest charting reggae single in history. A second single, "Girl I've Been Hurt", reached Number 19 on the Hot 100. In Japan, Snow received the Recording Industry Association of Japan's 1994 Gold Disc Award for Best New Artist.
Origin of stage name
As the government of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau continued reforming immigration policies, instituting social reforms, and promoting multiculturalism in Canada, a larger influx of Jamaicans immigrated into the Greater Toronto Area. One of Snow's neighbouring Jamaican families, the Browns, first introduced the teenager to reggae and began calling him "Snow" and "Snow White". With the help of his neighbours, Snow began borrowing and ordering reggae dub tapes to perform over. After befriending Marvin Prince, Prince began referring to Snow with a phrased backronym meaning "Superb Notorious Outrageous Whiteboy". Snow never claimed the title himself and simply continued to perform with the stage name of Snow.
Legal dispute over production of 12 Inches of Snow
While touring as Snow's DJ in December 1994, Marvin Prince abruptly left the tour after discovering Snow, according to court documents, "was receiving more money from management than he was." While listed as only the co-writer of the song "Runway" on the 12 Inches of Snow album, Prince claimed to have co-written five songs and co-produced the album with Shan, Eng, and Salem. Furthermore, Prince alleged in court that Eng and Salem provided "a draft of a multi-album production and recording agreement" for both Snow and himself. Unable to understand the contract, Prince allegedly "sent a copy to his mother to get legal advice from her friend" and "never saw the agreement again." Moreover, Prince claimed to have entered an "oral agreement" with Snow implying that the two would share profits from the album "fifty-fifty." The first agreement, Prince alleged, occurred "in 1990, when the two men began working together on songs in Prince's basement and he "allegedly suggested to" Snow, "if something comes out of this, let's be partners." The second oral agreement, according to Prince, took place in August 1991 while Snow auditioned for Shan. While Snow frequently referred to Prince as his partner in promotional videos, he claimed to have used the term "only in the slang sense." Prince, moreover, "admitted that these discussions were not concrete; the parties never organized a formal business plan, nor was plaintiff in New York to advance defendant's career."
Shan, Eng, and Salem testified that they were unaware of a partnership between Snow and Prince, and Shan denied that Prince co-produced 12 Inches of Snow and co-wrote the five songs in question. While initially winning a $1.5 million judgment, the court overturned the original ruling and dismissed Prince's suit on grounds that he had "no viable claims" to a partnership with Snow.
In the mid-1990s, Snow's executive producer David Kenneth Eng broadened his artistic horizons and deepened his personal and spiritual roots by establishing a base in Asia. Eng included Snow as part of this expansion, leading the Canadian artist into a new market. As a follow-up to 12 Inches of Snow, Snow recorded his second album Murder Love in Jamaica, Canada, and New York. While not a commercial success in North America, the album featured Snow performing with reggae and dancehall legends Ninjaman, Junior Reid, Half Pint, Buju Banton, Beenie Man, Dave Kelly, and Sly and Robbie. The "Anything for You" remix became a club favorite and, according to Billboard's Elena Oumano, made Snow a figure of respect on the Jamaican music scene. Indeed, "Anything For You" became the top-selling single in Jamaica in 1995 and "Si Wi Dem Nuh Know We" also reached the number one slot in Jamaica. Murder Love proved to be a popular album in Asia, with the single "Sexy Girl" remaining on Japan's Top Singles chart for 16 weeks, ultimately reaching number one. The success of Murder Love allowed Snow to tour Asia and collaborate with Thai rap artist Joey Boy. In 1996, Eng created Dimsum Entertainment, producing Joey Boy's album Fun, Fun, Fun. Ultimately, Snow performed on the chart-topping Thai single "Fun, Fun, Fun" and appeared in the music video. Joey Boy returned the favor by appearing on Snow's Thai single "Me and Joey". In 2008, Snow also featured Joey Boy on the track "Catch a Kick".
That same year, Snow collaborated with Cyndi Lauper on Junior Vasquez's Homegrown and Sly and Robbie's Pop Goes the Dancehall remix of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun", retitled "Hey Now (Girls Just Want to Have Fun)". By the end of 1996, Murder Love's "Si We Dem Nuh Know We" received a Juno nomination for Best Reggae Recording. Overall, the album produced three music videos: "Anything For You", "Anything For You (All Star Cast Remix)", and "Sexy Girl". In the film Klash, Snow appears performing "Rivertown".
Snow followed up Murder Love with an album named after his daughter, Justuss. The first single "Boom Boom Boogie" took Asia by storm, achieving gold status with the music video appearing on MTV Japan five to six times a day. Released in the United States and Canada in 1997, the single "If This World Were Mine" failed to chart but the video regularly appeared on The Box. The album reached number 12 on the U.S. reggae charts and in 1998 was nominated for Best Reggae album at the Juno Awards in Vancouver, British Columbia. In late 1997, Snow released a "Greatest Hits" compilation, called The Greatest Hits of Snow.
In 1999, Snow reunited with M.C. Shan, producing the album Cooler Conditions in Japan. The only single, "The Plumb Song", spent eight weeks on the Japan Singles chart, peaking at number 27. It was recorded at Metalworks Studios in Mississauga, Ontario.
Return to the Canadian charts
In November 2009, Snow's common law wife and the subject of many of his songs, Tamei Edberg, was diagnosed with cancer; she died three weeks later on November 27, 2009 at the age of 41. On June 24, 2010 Snow held a fundraiser called "ClosURE For Cancer" at Alley Catz Restaurant in Toronto during which they raised $15,000. Snow also started his own non-governmental organization called "Pure Snow NGO," which assists "tenants living in non-profit housing". Periodically, Snow releases new songs from his site and over the internet.
In 2013, after Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer complained about the company's "hold" music during a fourth-quarter earnings call, Snow and the Jingle Punks recorded a much publicized jingle for Yahoo. The lyrics went, "You're on hold / Hold on at Yahoo / Gimme a second while I patch you through," goes the first verse. "The CEO didn't like the hold music / So Daddy Snow wrote this jam for you."
On October 2, 2014, Snow's new single "Shame" was released, featuring Mykal Rose (Black Uhuru). On October 11, 2014, Snow announced that all proceeds from "Shame" will be donated to the fight against cancer.
Television and film appearances
In 2015, Snow and his then-fiancée, model/writer Tara Elizabeth, appeared on a CBC webseries called True Dating Stories to tell the story of one of their first dates: A walk in a ravine turned police operation.
Ethnicity and Canadian identity
In Ethnicity, Politics, and Public Policy: Case Studies in Canadian Diversity, Rebecca J. Haines examined Snow as a symbol of Canadian ethnic identity. Instead of hiding his "whiteness" and "Canadian-ness," Haines argues, Snow proudly boasts of his Irish heritage and traces his reggae roots to the diverse community of Allenbury. While other artists, such as Snoop Dogg, don a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey because of its resemblance to cannabis, "in the video for his single Anything For You, shot on location in Jamaica, the white Canadian reggae artist Snow is seen wearing the same jersey (Maple Leafs), perhaps in an attempt to proclaim his Canadian roots among the all black cast of this video."
Many reggae purists viewed Snow, along with Ini Kamoze, Diana King, UB40, Shaggy and Shabba Ranks, as another example of "watered down" commercial reggae that rose to international popularity in the 1990s. The sketch comedy show In Living Color, parodied "Informer" by featuring fellow Canadian Jim Carrey as Snow in a sketch titled "Imposter".
In 1996, WBLS New York disc jockey Pat McKay observed, "purists have a problem with a non-Jamaican doing reggae. But I choose to think of it as the greatest compliment to reggae culture, and Snow is a genuine, dedicated artist. He has a fine singing voice, he's a great writer, and he very generously includes other artists in all of his work. His authenticity amplifies the realities of his generation, and his sensitivity conjures up intimacy with all of his love songs."
|Year||Album||Peak chart positions||Certifications|
|1993||12 Inches of Snow
|2000||Mind on the Moon
|2002||Two Hands Clapping
- The Greatest Hits of Snow (1997)
- Best Remix of Snow (1998)
|1993||"Informer"||1||9||1||2||1||1||2||1||10||12 Inches of Snow|
|"Girl I've Been Hurt"||26||28||20||28||17||37||48||19||78|
|"Uhh in You"||—||—||—||—||—||—||67||—||—|
|1994||"Si Wi Dem Nuh Know We" (feat. Ninjaman & Junior Reid)||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Murder Love|
|1997||"Boom Boom Boogie"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Justuss|
|"Anything for You (All Star Cast Remix)" (feat. Nadine Sutherland)||—||74||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1999||"Someday Somehow"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Cooler Conditions|
|2000||"Everybody Wants to Be Like You"||—||2||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Cooler Conditions & Mind on the Moon|
|"The Plumb Song"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2001||"Joke Thing"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Mind on the Moon|
|"Nothin' on Me"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2002||"Legal"||—||13||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Two Hands Clapping|
|2003||"That's My Life" (feat. Jelleestone)||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2008||"Just 4 U" (feat. Kobra Khan)||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||non-album single|
|2014||"Shame (feat. Mykal Rose)"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2018||Informer (2018 remix)||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||non-album single|
Awards and nominations
|1994||Informer||Best Reggae Recording||Won|
|1994||Snow||Best Male Vocalist||Nominated|
|1994||12 Inches of Snow||Best Album||Nominated|
|1996||Si Wi Dem Nuh Know We||Best Reggae Recording||Nominated|
|1998||Justuss||Best Reggae Recording||Nominated|
|2001||Snow||Best Male Artist||Nominated|
|2001||Snow/Patterson||Best Song Writer||Nominated|
|2001||Mind on the Moon||Best Pop Album||Nominated|
|2002||The Plumb Song||Best Video||Nominated|
|2003||Two Hands Clapping||Best Reggae Recording||Nominated|
Recording Industry Association of Japan
|1994||Snow||Best New Recording Artist||Won|
|2001||Everybody Wants to Be Like You||Much Music Top Video||Won|
- Billboard Allmusic.com (Retrieved March 3, 2010)
- Snow's early background is provided by SNOW in 12 Inches of Snow, VHS (New York: A-Vision, 1993); SNOW, DVD, (Toronto: EMI Virgin Canada, 2003); and testimony from O'Brien, M.C. Shan and Prince is taken from Prince V. O'Brien, see: https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=13886394386652351580&q=Prince+v.+O%27BRIEN,+256+AD2d+208&hl=en&as_sdt=100000000000002&as_vis=1
- For further biographical information, see Dennis Hunt, "A Hot Reggae Artist Named Snow," Los Angeles Times, March 25, 1993, 10C; Mary Talbot with Jennifer Boeth, "A Blizzard Headed Our Way," Newsweek, March 29, 1993, 47; and Anne Trebbe, "Hard Core Jamaican Style Rap is Snow's Business," USA Today, April 1, 1993, 3d.
- "Prince v. O'Brien, 234 A.D.2d – Google Scholar". Scholar.google.com. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
- For another source see, account of Prince introducing Snow to Shan, and Shan producing the album with Prince promoting it, see 12 Inches of Snow, VHS (New York: A-Vision, 1993). Years after Snow departed Prince and worked closely with David Kenneth Eng, Prince filed a lawsuit seeking compensation for discovering Snow and promoting his album. In 1999, a Toronto court overturned Prince's claims, citing he had "no viable claims" for compensation. See: Betsey Powell, "Snow Vindicated: Court Overturns 1.5 Million Judgement," Toronto Star, January 21, 1999, 1.
- See Prince v. O'brien, 256 AD 2d 208 1998 683 NY 2d 504 https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=13886394386652351580&q=Prince+v.+O%27Brien,+234+A.D.2d&hl=en&as_sdt=100000000000002&as_vis=1
- According to the official credits, Darrin O'Brien, M.C. Shan, and Edmond Leary officially wrote Informer. See 12 Inches of Snow, CD (New York: East-West Records, 1993). Years later, after Snow and Prince had their falling out, Prince unsuccessfully sued Snow for compensation. See Betsey Powell, "Snow Vindicated: Court Overturns 1.5 Million Judgement," Toronto Star, January 21, 1999, 1.
- For the Guinness Book of World Records, see: Mark Young and Chris McWhirter, The Guinness Book of Records 1999(Guinness Records, 1998), 236–37. See Mike Ross, "Snow Alert," Jam, October 14, 2000. Available Online at: http://jam.canoe.ca/Music/Artists/S/Snow/2000/10/14/749728.html. Accessed September 14, 2010. For a synopsis of the success of Informer see http://www.artistdirect.com/artist/bio/snow/495020
- See: RIAJ Certification Awards, www.riaj.or.jp/data/others/gdlist/pdf/gd1-20_list.pdf (Accessed November 3, 2010).
- For a brief overview of Jamaican immigration and identity, see: T. A. Jones, "Race, Place, and Social Mobility of Jamaicans in Toronto," in Frazier, John W., ed. and Edward, Joe T. The African Diaspora in the United States and Canada at the Dawn of the 21st Century (New York: SUNY University, 2009), 80–86.
- Bill Delingatt, "Shoveling Snow with DKO," Cashbox Magazine, October 2, 2009, 1.
- The origin of Snow's stage name is also a central issue in the legal battle between Marvin Prince and Darrin O'Brien. See the following court documents: Prince v. O'brien, 256 AD 2d 208 1998 683 NY 2d 504. Also available online: https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=13886394386652351580&q=Prince+v.+O%27Brien,+234+A.D.2d&hl=en&as_sdt=100000000000002&as_vis=1.
- See O'Brien v. Prince, https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=13886394386652351580&q=Prince+v.+O%27BRIEN,+256+AD2d+208&hl=en&as_sdt=100000000000002&as_vis=1
- "Prince v. O'BRIEN, 256 AD2d 208 – Google Scholar". Scholar.google.com. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
- See: Betsey Powell, "Snow Vindicated: Court Overturns 1.5 Million Judgement," Toronto Star, January 21, 1999, 1.
- See David Kenneth Eng's personal website: http://davidkennetheng.com/More_About_DK_Eng.html. Accessed September 14, 2010.
- See Peter Howell, "Pop," Toronto Star, February 25, 1995, K14; For Collaborations, see the credits for: Snow, Murder Love, CD (New York: East/West, 1995).
- For the Billboard article, see: Elena Omanu, "Snow Displays Versatility, Growth on Justuss", Billboard, December 14, 1996, 9.
- For an example of the continued popularity of "Anything For You," see Andre Jebbinson, "Mellow Vibes, Musice and Crowd," Jamaica Gleaner News, May 2, 2006.
- Jamaican sales and charting data for "Anything For You" can be found in Kevin O'Brien Chang and Wayne Chen, Reggae Routes: The Story of Jamaican music (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998), 211.
- Jamaican charting data for "Si Wi Dem Nuh Know We" can be found in Pace (Johannesburg: Pace-Maker, 1995), 41.
- See Japan charts for February 1995, with "Sexy Girl" reaching number one and remaining on the charts for 16 weeks.
- For an online source see Super B.P.M Charts Tokyo at: http://www.sound.jp/tnsn/az/tokio-bpm_f.html
- For more on Joey Boy and Snow, see "Joey Boy Has Fun With Snow," Billboard, November 23, 1996, 67.
- "More About DK Eng". Davidkennetheng.com. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
- For a collection of Snow's videos, see the VHS video: The Greatest Hits of Snow (Tokyo: East West Japan, 1998).
- Elena Omanu, "Snow Displays Versatility, Growth on Justuss," Billboard, December 14, 1996, 9.
- See Stephanie Thomas Erlewine of the All Music guide at: https://www.allmusic.com/album/r315363 Accessed September 14, 2010.
- For "If This World Were Mine" on The Box, see: "Video Monitor", Billboard, May 17, 1997, 73.
- Japan (Tokyo) Charts, July 1999 for 27 weeks.
- See Mike Bell, "Snow Storm Returns," Jam, February 13, 2002. Available online at:http://jam.canoe.ca/Music/Artists/S/Snow/2001/02/13/749727.html
- See Mike Ross, "Snow Alert," Jam, October 14, 2000. Available Online at: http://jam.canoe.ca/Music/Artists/S/Snow/2000/10/14/749728.html. Accessed September 14, 2010.
- For more on Two Hands Clapping, see Gwen Michael, "Snow Dreams it All Up Again," Jam, November 19, 2002. Available online at: http://jam.canoe.ca/Music/Artists/S/Snow/2002/11/19/749720.html; Karen Bliss, "Snow Cuts Demo With Blu Cantrell," Jam, October 10, 2001. Available online at: http://jam.canoe.ca/Music/Artists/C/Cantrell_Blu/2001/10/10/743745.html; and Paul Cantin, "Snow: Snow Working with Shaggy's Producers," Jam, February 11, 2002. Available online at: http://jam.canoe.ca/Music/Artists/S/Snow/2002/02/11/749725.html. Accessed September 14, 2010.
- See "ClosURE For Cancer Fundraiser," Snap North Toronto. Available online at: http://www.snapnorthtoronto.com/index.php?option=com_sngevents&id=183562. Accessed September 14, 2010.
- See "Pure Snow NGO." Available online at: http://puresnowngo.com/snowNGO.html. Accessed September 14, 2010.
- See Ben Rayner, "Toronto Rapper Snow New Voice of Yahoo Telephone System," Toronto Star, February 6, 2013. Available online at: https://www.thestar.com/entertainment/music/2013/02/06/toronto_rapper_snow_new_voice_of_yahoo_telephone_system.html Accessed April 26, 2014.
- Morgan, Simone (2014) "Looks like it’s gonna Snow", Jamaica Observer, October 12, 2014. Retrieved October 14, 2014
- See Jim Slotek, "Expect Snow on Drew Carey," Jam, September 20, 2002. Available online at: http://jam.canoe.ca/Television/TV_Shows/D/Drew_Carey_Show/2002/09/20/734583.html. Accessed September 14, 2010.
- See Karen Bliss, "Snow to Star in De Niro Film," Jam, October 28, 1999. Available online at: http://jam.canoe.ca/Music/Artists/S/Snow/1999/10/28/749729.html. Accessed September 14, 2010.
- True Dating Stories: Tara (and Snow), October 20th, 2015. Available online at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWgwx6D-1VI Accessed October 23, 2015.
- Rebecca J. Haines, "Rap Music and Hip Hop Culture in Canada," in Ethnicity, Politics, and Public Policy: case studies in Canadian diversity, Eds., Harold Martin Trooper and Morton Weinfield, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999): 65–66 and 72.
- Kevin O'Brien Chang and Wayne Chen, Reggae Routes: The Story of Jamaican music (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998), 6–8.
- Carrey's parody can be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Icb_tRTnA4g (accessed October 30, 2010)
- Elena Omanu, "Snow Displays Vesatility, Growth on Justuss, Billboard, December 14, 1996, 9.
- Snow – Album & Song Chart History Billboard.com
- 112–159 RPM
- For Murder Love's peak position in Japan, see: http://www.geocities.jp/object_ori/950327a.html
- "Snow Album Certifications". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved April 11, 2010.
- Search Certification Database Canadian Recording Industry Association
- For album sales in Japan, see online charting data from 1995 at: http://www.geocities.jp/object_ori/1995cd.html (accessed November 3, 2010)
- International peaks
- "Snow Top Singles positions (97–155)". RPM. Retrieved 2010-05-13.
- "Snow – Billboard Singles". allmusic. Retrieved 2010-05-13.
- Search for Irish peaks
- UK peaks
- For nomination and award, see riaj infor at: www.riaj.or.jp/data/others/gdlist/pdf/gd1-20_list.pdf (Accessed November 3, 2010).
- "Songwriters and Publishers," Billboard, February 10, 2001, 48.