Ini Kamoze – Here Comes the Hotstepper

First Hit #1: December 17, 1994

The video for Here Comes the Hotstepper is connected to the fashion industry, because it was on the soundtrack of Pret a Porter, the Robert Altman film about the fashion industry. It’s not quite a good fit, because this thing is a sports song. That’s partially because it takes the Nananas from Land of a Thousand Dances, which is something that is ubiquitous at sports game. For good reason, in fact, because it’s something catchy that drunk people can sing really easily, and it’s always good to get people at a sporting game engaged and prevent them from passing out due to excessive alcohol intake. But what about the song itself?

Well, the charts haven’t really figured out what to do with reggae, and I’m not sure Kamoze is the greatest reggae artist out there. He’s got a hesitant flow, which isn’t really exciting for the listener. But, like the rest of the reggae that’s hit the top, it’s the elements that make it palatable to a larger audience which allow for its ascent. It’s not something that would be anywhere with that distinct chorus, just like Snow had his angry youth narrative and UB40 has their love of recording familiar standards. Kamoze has made a song that’s familiar enough to be palatable, as well as being catchy enough for sports games, and that’s good enough I suppose.

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One Response to Ini Kamoze – Here Comes the Hotstepper

  1. RBerman says:

    The lyrics, like Snow’s “Informer,” are full of gangster bluster, perhaps setting a record for the number of times a song boasts of its singer being a “murderer.” Not much else to say about the song itself, which as you say offers nothing of value except the callback to Wilson Pickett. I’d say Kamoze owes Pickett bigtime, except that Pickett too was covering an older song.

    Still, one is left with questions. How did this unremarkable reggae song find its way onto the playlist of numerous early 90s fashion shows, and thence onto the soundtrack of a movie about fashion shows? Why use it instead of Pickett’s version? Does getting your song into one of Robert Altman’s notoriously uncommercial movies improve its performance on the charts? How did this disposable bit of irreleventia muster the power to break up Boyz II Men’s chart hegemony, a feat the mightiest forces of pop could not do for literally months?

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