Cecil Campbell (born October 9, 1957), better known by his stage name Ini Kamoze (pronounced ) is a Jamaican reggae singer. He is best known for his signature song, “Here Comes the Hotstepper”, which was released in 1994, and subsequently topped the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also reached number one in Australia and New Zealand, and number four in the UK Singles Chart.
He made his first recordings in the early 1980s, cutting his first single, “World Affairs,” in 1981. He gained a following in his native country, earning the nickname of “Voice of Jamaica”. He was picked up by Sly and Robbie, a musical duo who led the Taxi label. With Sly and Robbie as producers, Kamoze released a 12-inch single called “Trouble You Trouble Me”.
His self-titled debut album was released in 1984 as a six track mini-LP on Island Records. In the album notes he describes himself as a “pencil thin… disentangled… six-foot vegetarian”. The album includes the song “World a Music” which was to be sampled by Damian Marley on his 2005 hit, “Welcome to Jamrock”. The album was recorded with and produced by Sly and Robbie, with whom he also toured internationally along with Yellowman and Half Pint. By 1988, however, Kamoze had effectively disappeared from the music scene following lukewarm reactions to his intermittent releases.
Kamoze then founded his own label, putting out a compilation album called Selekta Showcase, which featured a popular Kamoze single titled “Stress”. Four years later he released his next album, 16 Vibes of Ini Kamoze, which sold well and helped Kamoze remain popular with reggae fans, who especially liked the hit single “Another Sound”.
In 1994, Kamoze released the song which would become his signature, “Here Comes the Hotstepper”. Adopting another nickname from the song title, Kamoze would become known as the “Hotstepper”, from the patois for a man on the run from the law. Recorded with Philip “Fatis” Burrell, and was featured initially on a compilation of reggae music called Stir It Up, produced on the Epic label. It was not an entirely new composition, having its roots in the song “Land of 1000 Dances”, which was first recorded by Chris Kenner in 1962 and reprised in 1963 by Fats Domino.
The song appeared on the soundtrack to the fashion-industry satire film, Prêt-à-Porter. “Hotstepper” still remains one of dancehall’s more well-known hits, with its call-and-response chorus of “Here come de hotstepper / murderer; “I’m de lyrical gangsta / murderer” lighting up nightclubs worldwide. “Here Comes the Hotstepper” remains Kamoze’s only U.S. number one hit (see Hot 100 No. 1 Hits of 1994). Kamoze parlayed the song into a music video, displaying a solid, well-muscled physique and long dreadlocks, that looked quite different from the anemic appearance often commented on by critics during the 1980s.
Kamoze’s career after this high-water mark featured the album Here Comes the Hotstepper which was released in 1995, and featured the production work of Salaam Remi. Kamoze refused to categorize his music and remained open to singing a variety of songs from different sources, but he took a decade long break before surfacing again. When he did, it was with Debut, a 2006 album that featured re-recordings of his early hits.
Both the riddim (known as “World Jam”) and the hook of Damian Marley’s 2005 hit, “Welcome to Jamrock” were sampled from Kamoze’s 1984 track “World-A-Music”, giving Kamoze co-writing credits
Video by KlaxonKlaxon