Shabba Ranks, also known simply as Shabba, is a Jamaican deejay who was one of the first internationally successful dancehall artists. His best known hit is "Mr. Loverman," where he first introduced his famous "Shabba!" shout-out. He has released over a dozen albums in his career, which has lasted over 30 years. He performs regularly around the world, and a Shabba tour usually features fellow dancehall musicians, creating a lively, upbeat show with a Jamaican family vibe.
Shabba was born in 1966 in Sturgetown, Jamaica, under the name Rexton Rawlston Fernando Gordon. In his youth, he distinguished himself from other local artists by toasting and rapping, rather than singing. His innovative style would influence many musical artists in the following decades, and his song "Dem Bow" is considered to be the origin of the dancehall music style. The rhythm of the song is the defining characteristic of the genre.
Shabba first became famous in the late '80s thanks to the support of his mentor, a DJ named Josey Wales. International attention came quickly, due to collaborations with legendary guitarist Chuck Berry and US rappers KRS-One and Chubb Rock. Signing to major record label Epic Records also helped him to break through to the mainstream.
Shabba is best known internationally for the 1992 single, "Mr. Loverman." The track is based on a song called "Champion Lover" by female singer Deborahe Glasgow. It initially achieved only minor success in the U.K., but when re-released in 1993 it benefited from the growth of the dancehall trend and became one of the most recognisable songs of the genre. It eventually peaked at No. 3 in the U.K. singles chart and remains his biggest hit so far.
Shabba's other mainstream hits include "Family Affair," a collaboration with Sly and the Family Stone that appeared on the Addams Family Values film soundtrack, and "Clear The Air" with Busta Rhymes and Akon. He won two Grammy Awards in the '90s and Epic Records released a greatest hits album, Shabba Ranks and Friends, in 1999. Younger music fans may know Shabba as the inspiration for the song by rapper A$AP Ferg, titled "Shabba," which also features a cameo from the Jamaican star in its music video.
Shabba's live experience
In 2017, two years after his last festival appearance, Shabba announced a Shabba Ranks and Friends event at London's Wembley Arena. Headlined by Shabba, the line-up also features other well-known Jamaican artists including Barrington Levy and Maxi Priest.
Similar to Shabba
Those with Shabba tickets might also be interested in attending shows by other dancehall artists, such as Popcaan and Beenie Man. The stars often perform together at festivals and events similar to Shabba Ranks and Friends.
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