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Album Review

Unlike the all-conquering Shabba Ranks, Ninjaman was never to break into the international market, although he would draw respectable crowds live. Back home in Jamaica, though, the DJ was virtually the only toaster to truly threaten Ranks top ranking. Ninjaman was riding the crest of a wave of success in 1992, yet the abrupt shift back to culture was about to leave him high and dry. Even so, the DJ wasn't going down without a fight, and on The Original Front Tooth, he came out swinging strong, with producer Junjo Lawes firmly in his corner. "Me a marksman, me no miss target," he boasts, before taking aim on the opening "The Return Father & Son," executing all-comers in turn. And gun play was the name of Ninja's game, he even fires on the current dance sensation, the Bogle, an excuse to play with his lethal toys yet again. And he knows their ins and out, as "Bad Grandad" well illustrates. But it was this very tactic that won him "The Race" to the top of the DJ stakes, and on this song, leaving the other runners in the dust, whilst providing a sportscast of the last two years worth of competitions. However, even a gorgon like Ninjaman can see which way the winds are blowing, and so the DJ shows us his soft side on the touching "Mother," in which he incorporates lyrics from, of all things, "Que Sera, Sera." "Put It Down" adamantly sermonizes against crack, coke and heroin, "Come Out of the Church" preaches against preachers with predilections for large collection plates, "Woman of Samaria" takes Delilah to task, while "Two White Rat" excoriates both of Jamaica's political parties. That latter number is one of the strongest on the set, and for all its vitriol, also contains a potent unity message. "The World" is nearly as good, an angry polemic from the earth itself. Not everything on this set is top-notch, "Woman Get Set" is yet another example of a great DJ under the very mistaken impression that he can sing, and Ninjaman is a better fighter than a lover, as the combo "Like a Virgin" well proves. But hand the man a gun or a cause he believes in, and he's still unbeatable.


Born: January 20, 1966 in Annotto Bay, St. Mary's, Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '80s, '90s

One of the most popular dancehall DJs of the late '80s and early '90s, Ninjaman was also perhaps the most controversial, thanks to his often violent, progun lyrics. His bad-man image overshadowed the fact that he was a hugely talented freestyle lyricist, and the owner of a theatrical, stuttering delivery that made him a highly distinctive toaster. What was more, he did delve into social commentary at times, protesting war and the harsh realities of ghetto life rather than glamorizing their attendant...
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Original Front Tooth Gold Tooth Don Gorgon, Ninjaman
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