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Darrin Kenneth O'Brien (born October 30, 1969), better known by his stage name Snow, is a Juno Award-winning Canadian reggae musician. He is best known for his 1992 single "Informer", which reached No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
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, and at the age of 16 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 quickly, the two became friends. For the next few years, they practiced in Prince's basement with Snow providing vocals and Prince scratching the turntables. 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 assault 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.
As 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 neighboring Jamaican families, the Browns, first introduced the teenager to reggae and began calling him "Snow" and "Snow White." With the help of his neighbors, 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 himself, however, never claimed the name and simply continued to perform with the stage name of Snow.