Biography and music career
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.The stylistic origins of the genre reggaeton may partially be traced back to the 1991 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". The Dem Bow riddim is an integral and inseparable part of reggaeton, so much so that it has become its defining characteristic.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.In 2002, Ranks fulfilled one of his lifetime ambitions by dueting with his boyhood hero Alan Price, the keyboardist from 1960s band The Animals. He sang "Simon Smith and His Amazing Dancing Bear" the Randy Newman song with Price at Reggae Sumfest, Montego Bay. Ranks is credited with bringing the popularity of Alan Price to Jamaica.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 is portrayed in the music video by model and socialite Ian Connors. He was featured in the remix alongside Migos and Busta Rhymes on November 23, 2013.In August 2013 he was reportedly working on a new album with the working title 'Man Dem Grow Thick Beards'.
In 1992, during an appearance on Channel Four music show The Word
, he quoted the verse from the Bible condemning homosexuals, and was subsequently condemned for his comments by presenter Mark Lamarr who said that what Shabba was saying was "absolute crap". Anti-homosexual lyrics are present in a number of Shabba Ranks songs, including "No Mama Man
" and "Wicked inna bed