You may know him as Shabba Ranks.  However, to us, he’s part of the Garden Parish, St. Ann no matter where he’s been and how long he’s stayed away.

I remember the first time I came into contact with Shabba, I was a pre-teen participating in a Football tournament at the Seville Heights community center, and he was the DJ slated to entertain the crown via sound system Turbo Charge that night.  Shabba arrived early, i mean real early – he was there with his sidekick at the time Tuffest.

Shabba Ranking was hungry for the mic back then and he was already famous in and around the parish, so it was no surprise when the music started to get deep into his soul, he grabbed the mic while the games were still going on and proceed to light up the surroundings.

I was supposed to head home after the tournament, but how could I, how could anyone?    Shabba Ranking was DJ’ing!

“Peanie Peanie” was still being “molded” (at least 3 years before the single release) into being a hit and I heard him add the lines, and removed lines he didn’t want from it, and it was a pleasure doing so. We all knew he had star power and saw it in person then.

Tuffest, although lacking the dynamic verbal gift, was a great hype man for Shabba Ranks at the time – the connection was perfect between them.

Though there’s a lot more I remember about that day, even after decades of journeying around the world, and although i’m sure Shabba won’t remember that specific event, i’ll exit – like Tuffest used to do at that time – with:


Shabba, him deh ya!

Come home anytime, ‘big, dutty, stinking Shabba Ranks in person’.

Shabba Ranks (born Rexton Rawlston Fernando Gordon, 17 January 1966) is a Jamaican dancehall musician.

He was one of the most popular dancehall artists of his generation. He was also one of the first Jamaican deejays to gain worldwide acceptance, and recognition for his ‘slack’ lyrical expressions and content, when “ridin’ di riddim”, his gravel toned, rough-sounding voice made him instantly recognised worldwide.

Ranks was born in Sturgetown, St. Ann, Jamaica. He gained his fame mainly by toasting (or rapping) rather than singing, like some of his dancehall contemporaries 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.

He secured a recording contract with Epic Records in 1991. Having released five albums for a major label, Ranks remains one of the most prolific dancehall artists to break into the mainstream.[2]

The stylistic origins of the genre reggaeton may partially be traced back to the 1990 song “Dem bow”, from Ranks’ album Just Reality. Produced by Bobby “Digital” Dixon, the Dem Bow riddim became so popular in Puerto Rican freestyle sessions that early Puerto Rican reggaeton was simply known as “Dembow”.[3] The Dem Bow riddim is an integral and inseparable part of reggaeton, so much so that it has become its defining characteristic.[4]

His biggest hit single outside of Jamaica was the reggae fusion smash “Mr. Loverman” (memorable for bringing the cry “Shabba!” to the music world). Other tracks include “Respect”, “Pirates Anthem”, “Trailer Load A Girls”, “Wicked inna Bed”, “Caan Dun”, and “Ting A Ling”.

In 1993, 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. Ranks made a partial comeback in 2007 when he appeared on a song called “Clear The Air” by Busta Rhymes, which also featured Akon.

Shabba released a single on Big Ship’s Pepper Riddim called “None A Dem”, in April 2011. In 2012, Shabba was featured on Tech N9ne’s EP E.B.A.H. on the track “Boy Toy”.

In 2013, Shabba was also mentioned in A$AP Ferg’s song “Shabba,” and has a cameo near the end of the music video.[5] He was featured in the remix alongside Migos and Busta Rhymes on 23 November 2013.[6]

Albums –

1988 Rough & Rugged – split with Chaka Demus
1988 (CD:1990) Rappin’ with the Ladies
1989 Best Baby Father
1989 Holding On – by Home T, Cocoa Tea & Shabba Ranks
1990 Just Reality
1990 Golden Touch
1991 As Raw as Ever – UK Number 51
1991 Mr. Maximum
1992 Rough & Ready Volume 1 – UK Number 71
1992 X-tra Naked – UK Number 38
1993 Rough & Ready Volume 2
1995 A Mi Shabba
1998 Get Up Stand Up
1999 Shabba Ranks and Friends

Singles –

1989 “Peanie Peanie” – Shabba Ranks – Jammys
1990 “Roots & Culture” – Shabba Ranks – Digital B
1991 “She’s A Woman” – Scritti Politti Featuring Shabba Ranks – UK Number 20
1991 “Trailer Load A Girls” – Shabba Ranks – UK Number 63
1991 “Housecall” – Shabba Ranks Featuring Maxi Priest – UK Number 31 – US Number 37
1991 “Just Reality” – Shabba Ranks – Digital B
1992 “Love Punaany Bad” – Shabba Ranks – Jammys
1992 “Mr. Loverman” – Shabba Ranks Featuring Deborahe Glasgow – UK Number 3 – US Number 40
1992 “Slow And Sexy” – Shabba Ranks Featuring Johnny Gill – UK Number 17 – US 33
1992 “Shine & Crisis” – Shabba Ranks – Shang
1993 “I Was A King” – Eddie Murphy Featuring Shabba Ranks – UK Number 64
1993 “Mr. Loverman” – re-issue – Shabba Ranks – UK Number 3
1993 “Housecall” – remix – Shabba Ranks Featuring Maxi Priest – UK Number 8
1993 “What’cha Gonna Do” – Shabba Ranks Featuring Queen Latifah – UK Number 21
1993 “Family Affair” – Shabba Ranks Featuring Patra And Terri & Monica – UK Number 18 – US Number 84
1995 “Let’s Get It On” – Shabba Ranks – UK Number 22 – US Number 81
1995 “Shine Eye Gal” – Shabba Ranks Featuring Mykal Rose – UK Number 46
1996 “Heart of a Lion” – Shabba Ranks – Digital B
1997 “So Jah Say” – Shabba Ranks – Brick Wall

Video and Media:

2002 Shabba Ranks: Dancehall Ruff – Best of Shabba Ranks (DVD)
2001 The Return of Shabba Ranks (DVD)
1994 Darker Side of Black
1992 Shabba Ranks: Naked and Ready
1992 Shabba Ranks: Fresh & Wild
1992 Shabba Ranks vs. Ninja Man: Super Clash Round
1990 Reggae Showdown, Vol. 4: Shabba at Showdown (DVD)
1987 Prince Jammy