Saturday, 13 February 2016

Shabba Ranks "Greatest Hits" (2001)

Who is Shabba Ranks? For me he is the definitive voice of reggae music, said from a perspective of ignorance. Reggae is a genre Ive never dabbled with much but of what its name conjures is this mans voice. Deep, rugged and slick his steady flow swoons smoothly through a thick textural dialect of slang and lingo in his strong Jamaican accent. I wonder if he is actually the artist that populates my mind from where Ive heard this music before, either way the story of how i found him is mildly amusing for a music nerd like myself. Its from A$AP Ferg's "Trap Lord" "Shabba", "Two gold rings like I'm sha-shabba ranks, sha-sha-shabba ranks" and listening to my favorite A Tribe Called Quest record and a few others I caught wind that Shabba Ranks was not some trendy slang but a person. So I proceeded to youtube for a pleasant surprise and before long picked up this collection of his best songs.

Listening to an artist wildly different from my norms was a lot of fun and I picked up on a few stylish distinctions about Shabba's music. On the instrumental front the songs vary in degrees between Reggea and Dancehall but on occasions come with a Hip Hop production style of sampled beats or even a 90s Dance track in "Mr. Loverman". Although not a proper record it helped to keep the record moving and feeling fresh while showcasing the appeal of his vocal presence which could easily extend further than these styles alone. "Ting-A-Ling" was a shiner, a big spacious track with minimal sounds alongside an already bare percussive backbone that shuffles snare and hi-hat between deep base kicks that sparingly kick to emphases the the undying flow of Shabba's indecipherable word play. He notably won a Grammy for the record this lead single was from.

So who would I be kidding if I were to talk about the lyrical content? No one. It will take a fair amount of time before I learn to decode Mr. Ranks's lingual annunciations but in the mean time I am enjoying the persuasive nature of his sizable verbal presence. The shifts in delivery, pace tone don't come to often but as long as I don't leave it on repeat I can enjoy his voice and the instrumentals for the seventy minutes that make up an impressive highlight of his career in music, of which he's been silent with since.

Favorite Tracks: Mr. Loverman, Ting-A-Ling, Rough Life, Roots & Culture, Shine Eye Gal, Twice My Age
Rating: 6/10