Shabba Ranks

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Shabba Ranks
Birth nameRexton Rawlston Fernando Gordon
Born (1966-01-17) 17 January 1966 (age 56)
St. Ann, Jamaica
OriginKingston, Jamaica
Occupation(s)Dancehall musician
Years active1985–present
LabelsEpic (1991–96)

Shabba Ranks (born Rexton Rawlston Fernando Gordon; 17 January 1966)[2] is a Jamaican dancehall musician. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he was one of the most popular Jamaican musicians in the world. Throughout his prominence in his home country as a dancehall artist, he gained popularity in North America with his studio album, Just Reality, in 1990. He released two studio albums, As Raw as Ever and X-tra Naked, which both won a Grammy Award as Best Reggae Album in 1992 and 1993, respectively. He is notoriously popular for "Mr. Loverman" and "Ting-A-Ling", which were globally acclaimed and deemed his signature songs.[3]

Early life and family[edit]

Shabba Ranks was born in Sturgetown, St. Ann, Jamaica, and raised in Seaview Gardens, Kingston.[4][5] He and his wife, Michelle, have two sons Rexton Jr and Jahwon.[4] He currently resides in the New York City area.[6]

His father, Ivan Gordon, was a mason who died in 1990.[7] His mother, Constance "Mama Christie" Christie, remained in Seaview after Shabba's success, feeding the community with money sent from her son after his emigration. She was the subject of the 2015 hit song Shabba Madda Pot from dancehall artist Dexta Daps.[8]


He gained his fame mainly by toasting (or rapping) rather than singing, like some of his dancehall contemporaries in Jamaica. He was a protégé of deejay Josey Wales. His original stage name was Co-Pilot.[2] His international career started 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 1989.[2]

The stylistic origins of the genre reggaeton can 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".[9] The Dem Bow riddim is an integral and inseparable part of reggaeton, so much so that it has become its defining characteristic.[10]

His biggest hit single outside of Jamaica was the reggae fusion smash "Mr. Loverman". Other big tracks include "Housecall" with Maxi Priest, "Slow and Sexy" with Johnny Gill, "Respect", "Pirates Anthem", "Trailer Load A Girls", "Wicked inna Bed", "Caan Dun", and "Ting A Ling". He won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 1992 for As Raw as Ever and in 1993 for X-tra Naked.[2]

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".[11] His third album for Epic, A Mi Shabba, was released in 1995. He was dropped by the label in 1996. Epic went on to release a greatest hits album, entitled Shabba Ranks and Friends in 1999.

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.[12] He was featured in the remix alongside Migos and Busta Rhymes on 23 November 2013.[13] In August 2013, he was reportedly working on a new album.[14]


In 1992, during an appearance on Channel 4 music show The Word, he was asked to give his thoughts on the subject of the hit song, "Boom Bye Bye", by Buju Banton. Shabba held a copy of a Bible which he carried with him and stated that the "word of God" advocated the "crucifixion of homosexuals". He also alluded that he advocates the progression of the Jamaican people and freedom of speech but did not conclude that being against homosexuality would be in question of exclusion, according to bible laws. He was condemned for his comments by presenter Mark Lamarr, who said, "That's absolute crap and you know it." Following these comments, Ranks was dropped from a Bobby Brown concert as a performer and faced altercations with his label, Sony Music. Ranks subsequently apologized, after realizing that his comments might advocate "the killing of gays and lesbians and any human being in retrospect".[2][15][16]


Year Award Category Work Result
1992 Grammy Award Best Reggae Album As Raw as Ever Won
1993 Grammy Award Best Reggae Album X-tra Naked Won




  • 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 23 – US Number 40
  • 1992 "Ting A Ling" - Shabba Ranks - Shang
  • 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-release) – Shabba Ranks – UK Number 3
  • 1993 "Respect" - Shabba Ranks - Shang
  • 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[17]

Videos and DVDs[edit]

  • 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


  1. ^ "Shabba Ranks - Music Biography, Credits and Discography". Allmusic. Archived from the original on 27 October 2014. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e MacLeod, Erin (30 July 2013). "Shabba Ranks". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 27 February 2019. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  3. ^ "Making 'Mr Loverman', Shabba's biggest song to date". 31 March 2019. Archived from the original on 10 September 2019. Retrieved 21 March 2021.
  4. ^ a b Henry, Davina (17 July 2012). "The Dancehall Emperor Is Back!". The Gleaner. Archived from the original on 27 February 2019. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  5. ^ Campbell, Howard (16 July 2021). "Seaview music goes abroad". Jamaica Observer. Retrieved 29 July 2021.
  6. ^ Meminger, Dean (2 July 2017). "Soul's Survivors: Shabba Ranks Sees Hip-Hop as Younger Brother of His Dancehall". NY1. Retrieved 29 July 2021.
  7. ^ Louie, Elaine (16 December 1993). "Thanks, Mom. Here's Your New House". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 July 2021.
  8. ^ Deleon, Rene (6 May 2016). "'Shabba Madda Pot' more than just a song". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 29 July 2021.
  9. ^ Marshall, Wayne (19 January 2006). "The Rise of Reggaeton". The Phoenix. p. 4. Archived from the original on 3 May 2008. Retrieved 5 December 2007.
  10. ^ Carimanica, Jon (12 January 2006). "Grow Dem Bow". The Village Voice. Archived from the original on 14 December 2007. Retrieved 5 December 2007.
  11. ^ Breihan, Tom (13 February 2019). "The Number Ones: Sly & The Family Stone's 'Family Affair'". Stereogum. Archived from the original on 27 February 2019. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  12. ^ "A$AP Ferg feat. A$AP Rocky – Shabba". YouTube. Archived from the original on 7 December 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
  13. ^ "A$AP Ferg – Shabba (Remix) (feat. Shabba Ranks, Busta Rhymes & Migos) – Listen". AudioMack. Archived from the original on 27 November 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  14. ^ "Shabba plans new album". 16 August 2013. Archived from the original on 24 November 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  15. ^ "The Word". Channel 4. 1992. Archived from the original on 24 September 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  16. ^ "Buju Banton Shabba Ranks - video Dailymotion". Archived from the original on 26 June 2021. Retrieved 21 March 2021.
  17. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 450. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.

External links[edit]