New York-based reggae singer Willi One Blood had all but given up on his quest for a record deal. Like Pittsburgh Steelers fans, he was ready to throw in the terrible towel.
“I was really on my last leg,” he said recently. “I mean, I’ve been doing this for a while and had gotten a little disheartened by the business. I was ready to go back to college and get a degree.”
As instant karma would have it, Willi got a phone call from Ron Fair, executive producer of the RCA soundtrack album “Dumb and Dumber.” He offered him a deal to cut a demo of his proposed track, “Whiney Whiney (What Really Drives Me Crazy).” If the song was good enough, Fair told him, they would use it.
“I came back to him with this track,” Willi said, “and from then on, everyone says they love it, and it’s opened a lot of doors.”
It’s opened up wide enough to allow Willi onto Billboard’s pop chart. The inanely charming “Whiney Whiney,” with its kicky hooks and samples, debuted last week at No. 76 on the Hot 100. Along the way, it has earned Willi an album deal with RCA.
“We’re in the process of getting it all together,” he said. “As for when it comes out, sooner than later, I hope. We’re going to do it right. We’ve got a jumpstart because I already have material that’s been recorded and ready before I came to RCA that we feel is strong.”
Over an infectious dancehall beat, “Whiney Whiney” samples Henry Mancini’s “Baby Elephant Walk,” The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” and a nursery rhyme – all in one sitting.
“To be honest with you, ‘Whiney Whiney’ was a new direction for me,” Willi said. “It’s a fun novelty song, but most of my other material is a little more serious. I don’t think you could do a whole album like that. My album is going to be a lot more diverse.”
BWF (before we forget): After 11 weeks on the Billboard chart, “Whiney Whiney” got no higher than No. 62.