Words by Jesse Serwer
We’ve decided to bust out the ORIGINAL video for Ini Kamoze’s “Here Comes the Hotstepper” (not that fancy-pants later video with with all of the scenes from Pret-a-Porter) but we’re not here to talk about Mr. Kamoze. No, today’s Throwback Thursday is a special dedication to two very special producers behind the “Hot Stepper”: the late Phillip “Fattis” Burrell, and Salaam Remi. Burrell, the producer and founder/operator behind Jamaica’s XTerminator label, died last weekend, following a stroke. One of the most pivotal musical minds of dancehall’s ’90s Golden era, Burrell soundtracked Capleton’s “Alms House” and helped to launch the careers of Sizzla and Luciano, ushering in the period’s roots reggae revival with riddims backed by the Fire House Band.
It was Fattis who produced the original “Hot Stepper,” (or “Stepping It Hotter this Year,” as it is sometimes called), a hit single in Jamaica for Ini Kamoze, reviving the “World-A-Reggae” singer’s career after some quiet years in the late ’80s. Of course the song that most people think of when they hear the name Ini Kamoze, or the words “Hot Stepper,” came out four years later, when Kamoze revived the concept with Bajan-American hip-hop/reggae/R&B/pop producer Salaam Remi. “Here Comes the Hotstepper” took a classic disco break—Taana Garder’s “Heartbeat”—and gave it a hip-hop groove that made it one of the biggest crossover hits to come out of the dancehall world up to that point.
We bring that tune into the discussion as we large up Salaam for helping keep the legacy of Amy Winehouse alive as the producer behind this week’s Lioness: Hidden Treasures and the new single “Our Day Will Come.” Maybe you saw him last night sitting in with the Roots on Jimmy Fallon?
But back to Fattis. The original “Hot Stepper,” to us, is the tune that stands the test of time best, a timeless track on Party Time, a riddim that’s more ethereal and mellow than its name might indicate. So after you take a trip back to ’94 Brooklyn with the visuals for “Here Comes the Hot Stepper,” make sure to travel further back in time to Jamaica in 1990, and listen to one of the tracks that really got the ’90s dancehall era started off proper.