It’s Shabba Ranks’ earthstrong today. Which is just as good as any reason to refresh ourselves with his greatness.
Ranks has experienced a bit of renaissance of late. He made an ecstatic return to the stage at the 2012 Sumfest in Jamaica, his first show on the island in over 12 years, while Kanye and A$AP Ferg’s smash hits from last year paid homage to the dancehall artist in name. As Erin McLeod pointed out last year via Pitchfork, Shabba Ranks became the name synonymous with dancehall outside of Jamaica through much of the ’90s. And even today Ranks influence still resonates both within Jamaica and beyond its shores despite hardly any output in the last 10 years.
Here’s some select tracks we hope act as a brief testament to Ranks influential catalog. Happy Earthstrong, Shabba.
On his best tracks, the riddim is almost secondary to the feverish vocal melody Ranks unleashes over it. Here Ranks carries the song with his unforgiving delivery that seems nearly devoid of breaths between lines.
“Wicked inna Bed”
The Bobby Digital-produced slack-heavy tune was, coincidentally, actually recorded in a bedroom. However, the lyrics should not be taken so literal, at least not in regards to the environment in which it was cut. Remember this is an artist who once declared to “love punanny bad” we’re talking about here.
The Steely and Clevie produced riddim took on a life of its own but as Wayne Marshall pointed out recently, the Shabba Ranks cut is largely ground-zero for what would go on to become the entire genre known as reggaeton. Of course, you can’t ignore the homophobic lyrics here, something that would go on to become part of a far more infamous side of Ranks’ career.
Still a staple at any good dancehall party, this track showcases Ranks at his peak, rolling over the sparse Steely and Clevie production with his signature energy-heavy vocal delivery.
“Shine Eye Gal”
This track further attests to Ranks versatility with this emotional offering over a re-work of Black Uhuru’s “Shine Eye Gal” featuring Mykal Rose.
“Shabba Ranks” (Remix)
Despite little output over the last decade, Ranks hops on the remix of the track that pays homage to himself like he hasn’t missed a day of work on the mic. And rightly so, Ranks steals the spotlight.