4 CD Box
February 11, 2010
Disc One: Just Reality
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4||Backing : 4/5||Production : 4/5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 3/4|
'Reggae Legends' is a new Greensleeves series, reissuing classic albums of one artist in a 4 cd box. The first highlights the works of rapper/toaster/dancehall superstar Shabba Ranks, and includes four albums from the late eighties to the early nineties.
Shabba Ranks, born Rexton Rawlston Fernando Gordon on January 17, 1966, in St. Ann, Jamaica, gained his fame mainly by toasting for several famed producers in Jamaica. A protégé of deejay Josey Wales, he arrived on the international stage in the late 1980s, along with a number of fellow Jamaicans including reggae singers Cocoa Tea and Crystal. Ranks also worked with Chuck Berry and American rappers KRS-One and Chubb Rock.
In 1988 he released his first album 'Rappin With the Ladies' (Disc 1), which became a major success for him as well as producer Gussie Clarke. It saw Shabba in combination with several female toasters and reggae artists. It featured his biggest hit single outside of Jamaica, the reggae fusion smash Mr. Loverman with the late great Deborahe Glasgow. The tune Twice My Age was another popular dancehall hit. It featured the crystal clear voice of Krystal.
In 1991 Shabba Ranks teamed up with young producer Bobby 'Digital' Dixon for the album 'Just Reality' (Disc 2). Engineer Bobby Digital had left King Jammy to start his own label, Digital B. That album was a more raw dancehall orientated set of slackness tunes and rootical tunes. It featured the massive hits Wicked Inna Bed, the X-rated lyrics of which contributed to his sexy, lover-man persona and the awesome Roots And Culture. The stylistic origins of the genre reggaeton may partially be traced back to the song Dem Bow, from that particular album. The 'Dem Bow' riddim became so popular in Puerto Rican freestyle sessions that early Puerto Rican reggaeton was simply known as 'Dembow'.
That same year he also released the album 'Golden Touch' (Disc 3) for the 'Two Friends' production unit of Mikey Bennett and Patrick Lindsey. His third album proved less popular than its predecessors. Although the production was flawless, the album did not succeed to make a decent impression in the dancehall scene.
A year later he came up with a smasher for Augustus 'Gussie' Clarke, the album compilation set 'Mr. Maximum' (Disc 4). The album was a collection of popular songs he recorded for Gussie during the late eighties and early nineties. The tune Pirates Anthem became a popular song in the UK. One of the highlights of that album was Stop Spreading Rumours, which featured vocal support by vocalists Home T and Cocoa tea. Both songs also appeared on the 1989 album 'Holding On'.
In 1991 he secured a major record deal with Epic Records and released five albums for the label. In 1993 Shabba Ranks scored another hit in the Addams Family Values soundtrack to which he contributed a rap/reggae version of the Sly and the Family Stone hit 'Family Affair'. His third album for Epic, 'A Mi Shabba', was released in 1995, however it fared less well. He was eventually dropped by the label in 1996. However, he won two Grammy Awards for previous work, and Epic went on to release a 'Greatest Hits' album, entitled 'Shabba Ranks and Friends' in 1999.
Today, Ranks lives in New York City, and there is a rumour that he may be working out a record deal with Jay-Z's Roc-A-Fella Records, but nothing has been confirmed yet. Ranks made a partial comeback in 2007 when he appeared on a song called 'Clear The Air' by Busta Rhymes, which also features Akon.