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Shabba Ranks

During his heyday, Shabba Ranks was arguably the most popular dancehall toaster in the world. He was a massive crossover success in the U.S., thanks to an openly commercial hybrid of reggae and hip-hop, and also to prominent duet partners like Maxi Priest, Johnny Gill, and KRS-One. All of this brought him several hit singles and albums on the R&B charts in the early '90s, and made him the first dancehall artist to win a Grammy. Ranks' distinctive, booming growl of a voice earned him many imitators, and his sex-obsessed lyrics -- while drawing criticism for their unrelenting "slackness" -- made him one of dancehall's hottest sex symbols. Ranks' early success also helped pave the way for even bigger crossovers by artists like Shaggy and Sean Paul.

Shabba Ranks was born Rexton Rawlston Fernando Gordon on January 17, 1966, in Sturgetown, Jamaica. When he was eight years old, his family moved to the Kingston ghetto of Trenchtown, where Bob Marley had grown up. By age 12, he was fascinated by the sound system DJs who spun records in local clubs, and often chatted on the mic over the backing tracks. His early inspirations included Charlie Chaplin, General Echo, Brigadier Jerry, Yellowman, and especially Josey Wales. He soon tried his hand at performing as a toaster, and spent the early '80s working under Admiral Bailey at the Roots Melody sound system. Paired with a record selector dubbed the Navigator, Ranks initially called himself Co-Pilot. Under that name, he cut his first single, "Heat Under Sufferer's Feet," in 1985. He soon changed his name to Shabba Ranks, and caught the attention of his idol Josey Wales, who took the young toaster under his wing.

Wales introduced Ranks to some of the producers at King Jammy's studio, and Ranks soon began recording there, debuting with the single "Original Fresh." He collaborated with Chaka Demus, and recorded a large quantity of singles, none of which gave him a breakout hit. The 1988 single "Needle Eye Punany" marked the beginning of his notorious sexual explicitness, which he would soon ride to tremendous popularity in Jamaica. More crucial, though, was his move to King Jammy engineer/producer Bobby Digital's new studio and label, Digital B, in 1989. Having known each other for some time, the duo's chemistry was immediate, and Ranks quickly vaulted to stardom that year with a series of hit singles and an electrifying stage show (at one point, Ranks arrived on-stage via helicopter).

From 1989-1991, Ranks recorded some 50 singles, mainly with Bobby Digital but also with producers Gussie Clarke and Steely & Clevie. He scored hit after hit, including the massive "Wicked Inna Bed," "Roots and Culture," "Live Blanket," "Mama Man," and "Peeny Penny," among others. His album Rappin' With the Ladies featured covers of songs by female reggae artists, and gave him another big hit with a new version of J.C. Lodge's smash "Telephone Love"; it was also one of his first successes overseas, proving quite popular in the U.K. Gussie Clarke produced his 1989 LP Holding On, which spawned major hits in "Pirates' Anthem" (a collaboration with Cocoa Tea and Home T), "Twice My Age" (a duet with Krystal), and "Mr. Loverman" (a new version of Deborah Glasgow's "Champion Lover"). He also cut several other tracks with Cocoa Tea and Home T, including "Who She Love," "Stop Spreading Rumours," and "Your Body's Here With Me." A subsequent album, Golden Touch, proved to be another U.K. success.

Ranks' burgeoning popularity led to a major-label deal with Epic in 1991, and it was clear from the start that he aspired to crossover stardom. His Epic debut, As Raw as Ever, featured a high-profile duet with the then-hot Maxi Priest, "Housecall." "Housecall" made the Top Five on the R&B charts, sending As Raw as Ever all the way to number one on the R&B album listings. Another duet, "The Jam" -- this time with rap legend and reggae enthusiast KRS-One -- topped the hip-hop singles chart in 1992. As Raw as Ever was awarded a Grammy for Best Reggae Album, making Ranks the first dancehall artist ever to notch a win. Later in 1992, "Mr. Loverman" was re-released as a single in the States, following its appearance in the film Deep Cover; it went all the way to number two on the R&B charts. Ranks released his follow-up album, X-Tra Naked, the same year, and notched yet another duet hit with the Johnny Gill collaboration "Slow and Sexy," his third R&B Top Fiver. X-Tra Naked also featured other minor hits: "Muscle Grip," "Ting-a-Ling," and a duet with Queen Latifah, "What 'Cha Gonna Do?"; it also won Ranks his second straight Best Reggae Album Grammy. Ranks was so popular that two compilations of his earlier Jamaican hits, Rough & Ready, Vol. 1 and Mr. Maximum, both charted in the U.S. in 1992 as well.

1994 brought Ranks another decent-sized hit in the Addams Family Values soundtrack contribution "Family Affair," a rap/reggae version of the Sly & the Family Stone hit. He completed his third Epic album, A Mi Shabba, in 1995, and it produced several minor hits in "Ram Dancehall," "Let's Get It On," and "Shine Eye Gal." However, it didn't match the phenomenon of its predecessors, and Ranks fell mostly silent afterwards. He did return to Jamaica to record some more material for King Jammy during the late '90s, some of which was released on the hodgepodge album Get Up Stand Up in 1998. However, no new major-label offerings appeared, and Sony issued several compilations around the turn of the millennium. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Big Time (Single)

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Track List: Love Punany Bad (Remix) (Single)

Comments

mr-mrsdelgad o
This song reminds me of back in the days when I was in jamaicA
Love thing A ling bad tune
c4irvin
LO
What the blood clot
White boys be banging shabba.
mark.simms
Rude Bwoy Shabba is the greatest!
Damn Shabba Ranks..where in the hell is he at?? he used to have the cookouts and block parties jumping in the 90's.
Booyaka Booyaka !!
KING SHABBA!!!!
I have been listening to this since I can even remember. So many good memory.
Coming up in Brooklyn 70's - 2000 reggae was a big influence and part of the new generation fads. We had our fair share of hookie jams straight reggae, East NY, Bushwick, Brownsville, Canarsie, Glendale, Ridgewood and MANY other places I don't remember them all... Great times we had, great friends we lost, along the way, way......Big u p Shabba
Love this song takes me way back!!
naomihot2320 0 0
I'm proud being Jamaican :) !
I mailed this album at Sony music company for Frankie rip I was 15 years old mailing shabba and patra albums meet Shabba on Lexington ave in Brooklyn newyork!!!! Just being honest!!!!
Listening to Dance Hall reminds me of going on the Jamaican cruises in Long Beach, CA. Dancing from the moment I got on the boat til we docked....go o d times!!!!
Don't read this because it actually works.You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of you life.Tomorro w will be the best day of your life.However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days.Now you've started reading it so dont stop.This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes.When done press f6 and your lover's name will come on the screen in big letters.This is so scary because it actually works
z.prendy
straight up old school
Bronx whine with me girls
memories memories. :)
mrrex4u
This is real music
mrrex4u
D best
OMG what memories!!!
SHABBA RANKS
ha I love this song never gets old :3
Met him personally. .he was a a true o.g. of his time. .much respect. ..SHABBA!!
Kiss your left hand,say your crush's name 3 times , close your hand ,say a ay of a school week , Post this on 15 other songs and your crush will ask you out on that. Day
bap bap
Break da bed 2 this!!!!
SHABBA!
One and only rude boi dat!!!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
Sha shabba ranks
I have always loved this song and at 36 I still do
Shaba all day
lerencemelto n
Where that boga & butterfly at..lol
Classic shabba ranks!!!!!!: ) : ) : ) : )
Nun ah dem nuh baad like di Rankin!
X-tra Naked!
BUTTERFLY ALLL DAAAYYYY LONGGGGG
My first time heard when I was 14 he is that sha it
jae_amir
Shabba is da maan!!!
Fire fire
Mista ugly man. Shabba.
Bogle to dis and the butterfly. Lol loved those times.
He reigned in his time
One of the best if not THE BEST in dancehall. <3 Shabba
He gives a wicked stage show, pure entertainmen t . . .
wickidest mahn.......
Love shabba classic reggae the world will never forget
Bop bop bop, boppp lol!
Knife & fork a fight fi dumplin! Gwaan Shabba!
Great bio write-up!
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