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Performer: Shabba Ranks
Artist: Maxi Priest; KRS-One; Cocoa Tea; Johnny Gill
Distributor: Sony BMG
Notes: Personnel includes: Shabba Ranks, Chevelle Franklin, Maxi Priest, Cocoa Tea, Home T, Mykal Rose, Johnny Gill, KRS-One, Krystal. Producers include: Wycliffe "Steely" Johnson, Cleveland "Clevie" Browne, Sean "Puffy" Combs, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, KRS-One. Compilation producer: Jerry Rappaport. Recorded between 1991 & 1995. Includes liner notes by Eliana Oumana. All tracks have been digitally remastered. With one foot planted firmly in Jamaica's tradition of classic toasting (his precursors include U-Roy and Yellowman), and the other in the burgeoning world of American hip hop, Shabba Ranks purveyed a hard-hitting ragga-rap style that came to typify the form known as dancehall. Delivered over deep, bass-thick production, Ranks' provocative, rhythmically infectious delivery struck an international chord. The artist's particularly successful tenure at Epic Records in the early-to-mid-1990s is represented on GREATEST HITS, an impressive and well selected--if not comprehensive--sampler of Shabba's talents. Included here are popular collaborations with other singers, including Maxi Priest ("Housecall"), Johnny Gill ("Slow and Sexy"), and KRS-One ("The Jam"); in addition to pairings with producers and arrangers like Sly Dunbar ("Shine Eye Gal"), Sean Combs ("Rough Life"), and long-term production partner Bobby "Digital" Dixon. "Trailor Load a Girls" and "Wicked in Bed" show Ranks wielding his renowned sexual braggadocio, while "Roots and Culture" proves him capable of tackling social issues. Ultimately, Ranks was a key player in the rise of Jamaican dancehall, and GREATEST HITS is a great overview of his contributions.
Shabba Ranks was ragga's figurehead in the early '90s, delivering rude & lewd "slackness" lyrics (sample title: "Hard & Stiff") with a rough gravelly voice over equally aggressive, electronic beats. His international recording deal with Sony did not dilute his music, and allowed him to reach a far wider audience than any Jamaican DJ before. His work thrived in a world that had been musically hardened by the success and dominance of hip-hop.
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