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Just Reality

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Editors’ Notes

The early ‘90s were the start of a formidable creative and commercial winning streak for Shabba Ranks, as he began working with upstart producer Robert “Bobby Digital” Dixon. Dixon had started his career behind the mixing board at King Jammy’s, but by the late ‘80s he'd broken away to establish his own label, Digital B, and quickly became one of the most talented and forward-thinking dancehall producers. Where other producers used digital programming to mimic the sounds and textures of organic instruments, Dixon reveled in the lockstep rhythms and electronic dissonance of digital production techniques. His aggressive, unrepentantly synthetic digital rhythms caused a sensation in Kingston dancehalls. Shabba Ranks was one of Dixon’s most successful artists, and 1991’s Just Reality includes many of Dixon and Ranks’ finest collaborations. Particularly notable are numbers like “Roots and Culture” and “Dem Bow," a shatteringly unorthodox digital production whose staccato parade-ground rhythm would eventually be a huge influence on the development of reggaeton.


Born: January 17, 1966 in St. Ann's Parish, Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '10s

During his heyday, Shabba Ranks was arguably the most popular dancehall toaster in the world. He was a massive crossover success in the U.S., thanks to an openly commercial hybrid of reggae and hip-hop, and also to prominent duet partners like Maxi Priest, Johnny Gill, and KRS-One. All of this brought him several hit singles and albums on the R&B charts in the early '90s, and made him the first dancehall artist to win a Grammy. Ranks' distinctive, booming growl of a voice earned him many imitators,...
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Just Reality, Shabba Ranks
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