Shabba Ranks – Biography

Shabba Ranks, whose real name is Rexton Rawlston Fernando Gordon, was born on January 17, 1966 in the parish of St. Ann, Jamaica. He made his debut on Admiral Tibet’s sound sytem Roots Melody. In 1985, he recorded his first title Heat Under Sufferers Feet under the pseudonym Co-Pilot. He got noticed by Josey Wales, who introduced him to King Jammy, always interested when a major upcoming dancehall act showed up!

When Bobby Digital, then Jammy’s main engineer left to set up his own label, Shabba Ranks decided to leave with him. The deejay kept working on his girl’s lyrics, lyrics that speak mostly of the female from a somewhat macho perspective. This is one of the artists that truly defines slackness without apology. But the public kept wanting more! He released his first album on the Digital B label and the track Mr Loverman hit international radio hard and  became the international reggae anthem of the late 80’s. But the star did not neglect his native island; his concerts are considered majot events, where the ghetto youths comes to  forget its everyday misery. In 1990 and 1991, Shabba will sell more than 3 million albums worldwide!


Shabba Ranks did not stop there; not satisfied to win a first Grammy Award in 1991 with his album As Raw As Ever, he launched Housecall, a duet with Maxi Priest. He then starts taking the defense of Boom Bye Bye in the press, an early Buju Banton song, which does nothing to change its homophobic reputation and jeopardize his career for several years. He nevertheless won a second Grammy Award with the album X-tra Naked in the following year, in 1992. In 1995, he released a new album A Mi Shabba, which do not enjoy the same success as the previous one. Yet, the artist remains true to his convictions and keeps the love of his Jamaican public. His latest recorded album, Get Up Stand Up was released in 1998, followed by a compilation called Shabba Ranks & Friends.

In the 2000’s, even being less exposed internationally, Shabba “still dey yah”, or is still around. He keeps releasing singles on the current hot rhythms (None A Dem, Big Time Greatest) and is still a major reference to a part of the Jamaican youth.

In the summer of 2014, Shabba Ranks proclaimed himself “Emperor of Dancehall”, following his performance that literally stole the show at Reggae Sumfest, his first over a decade in Jamaica! He is currently back living in Kingston and there are rumors to the effect that he would release a brand new album for summer 2015.

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