Toppa Top 10: Salaam Remi Breaks Down Ten of His Classic Records

Intro 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 BONUS BEATS


Ini Kamoze, “Here Comes the Hotstepper” (1994)

Ini, at the time, was going through a lot of personal and street turmoil and street stuff. He was in the belly of the beast, staying in Brooklyn, in the PJ’s, on the low. HE was already esteemed as a reggae artist, and had the huge “Hotstepper” record that was working in the reggae level, but he was still in a situation were he was going through a lot, and I’ll just leave it there. He came in with a cast on saying yea the homies got me, he had a bullet in his hand. He was staying in the hood, but he was also a lyricist that was listening to Cypress Hill, and everything else. His “naaa nanana naaa nana na naaaa” was his version of Cypress Hill going “naa na naa na na na na naaaaaa” [from “Hand on the Pump”]. He was listening to Das EFX and Cypress. His lyrics, “I’m a lyrical gangsta, murderer” was the combination of hip hop’s energy lyrically. So I’m listening to the acapella, and my remix vibe at that time was putting 80’s stuff underneath it, and then one day it hit me. My father arranged what became [Taana Gardner’s] “Heartbeat,” the original track. They did it over but it was really his creation, so he was able to make that go through.

I tweaked it and played it for Flex and Angie, and they were like yo that shit is hot. Steve Smith, who was program director of Hot 97, was like what records are happening, and the two records that Angie pushed forward were “Nappy Heads” and “Here Comes the Hotstepper.” My dad had Beats to the Streets promotions at the time. We made the record hot, and once it blew up and a bidding war happened, he was like, “You know what, Jah sent this for me, I had a vision, this wasn’t necessarily something that you did.” So they decided rather then pay me to do the album after that on their own, and the result was such… doing over songs that didn’t necessarily work out. But that record had the Smurfs sing it in Swedish. It is a staple of my catalog and a great example of how something that was made for Brooklyn under a bit of stress—”Heartbeat” is Brooklyn, “Murderer” is Brooklyn…. The energy was made for the jerk chicken spot on Flatbush, but it translated and worked in Iowa, and anywhere around the world, and in different languages.