12 Inches of Snow is the debut album by Canadian reggae musician Snow, released in 1993. Edmond Leary and MC Shan produced the entire album, apart from one track which was produced by John Ficarrotta. The album was produced shortly before Snow was imprisoned for a year on an assault charge. Upon his release from prison, his first single "Informer" became a chart topping hit. It later went on to become one of the largest-selling reggae records of all time.
After M.C. Shan discovered Snow through a Canadian DJ, he began recording songs with Snow in New York and introduced him to managers David Kenneth Eng and EZ Steve Salem, who signed Snow to East West Records. While awaiting trial for assault and murder charges (later acquitted), Shan and Snow began working on the album. The inspiration for the song Informer stemmed from a late night incident across the street from Snow's Allenbury home. Thus, the song described how a detective incorrectly accused Snow of "stabbing someone down the lane." The song also chronicled Snow's incarceration at Toronto East Detention Centre and prison life.
Shan described the album as not "raw, straight-up" reggae but more of a hybrid album fusing pop, jazz, reggae, and hip hop resulting in "mass appeal." Indeed, the songs "Informer," "Runway," "Champion Sound," and "Lonely Monday Morning," were dancehall tracks performed in Jamaican Patois. Shan recorded "Drunken Styles," another song performed entirely in patois, after Snow and the recording crew celebrated at a nearby tavern, and a tipsy Snow performed the entire track free style.
Other songs, such as "Lady With the Red Dress," "Girl I've Been Hurt," "Uhh in You," and "Hey, Pretty Love," mixed love ballads and dance tracks with patois. "Ease Up," "Creative Child," and "50 Ways (To Flip a Style)," were hip-hop inspired songs.
While touring as Snow's DJ in December 1994, Marvin Prince abruptly left the tour after discovering Snow "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 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 five of the songs on the album. While initially winning a $1.5 million judgment, the court dismissed Prince's suit on grounds that he had "no viable claims" to a partnership with Snow.
East-West released the first single, "Informer," while Snow was serving time in prison for assault charges. In fact, Snow first watched the "Informer" video while behind bars. Upon his release, a limousine picked him up and he left prison as a recording star. "Informer" went on to become one of the biggest international hits of 1993 and 12 Inches of Snow became one of the top-selling albums of 1993. The album was certified platinum by the RIAA with an excess of 1 million copies sold and in Canada was certified triple platinum by the CRIA.
- "Champion Sound"
- "Lonely Monday Morning"
- "Drunken Styles"
- "Girl I've Been Hurt"
- "Hey Pretty Love"
- "Creative Child"
- "Lady with the Red Dress"
- "Uhh in You"
- "Can't Get Enough"
- "Ease Up"
- "50 Ways" (CD Bonus Track)
- "Lonely Monday Morning (Remix)" (CD Bonus Track)