As Raw As Ever - Shabba Ranks

As Raw As Ever - Shabba Ranks


DJ/Host of You Must Learn


As I noted in this week’s show, discovering Shabba Ranks was a turning point for me.  Until then, I only knew of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Jimmy Cliff when it came to reggae.  Not that I didn’t like it, it just wasn’t something that came into my sphere.  And then, MTV introduced me to the video for “Trailer Load a Girls” and I immediately took notice.  Very quickly, a mall trip to buy the cassette followed.  This wasn’t the laid back island grooves my frat boy-wannabe high school classmates were playing.  This was different.  Vibrant.  I knew nothing of the culture, but yet I could feel it.



The album starts with the single, which wasn’t out of place for the time.  I don’t remember there being a cassette single available, which is why I bought the whole tape.  And even then, I was a little on the fence, until I saw that the closing track featured KRS-One.  So I knew I was going to play it all the way through at least once.  Well, I ended up playing it more than that.



As Raw As Ever is Ranks’ major label debut in 1991, but his seventh album that he released, all since 1988.  He was prolific, if not necessarily a standout in the field.  But eventually he caught enough years for Epic Records to release music, and the album went Gold.  It is still a bit of an inconsistent release, as two tracks – “Ambi Get Scarce” and “Park Yu Benz” do not appear on the vinyl LP version of the album.  But as for the meat of the record, apart from the lead single, this is a lot of fun.  He had another hit with Maxi Priest called “Housecall” and got some mixshow play with the aforementioned track with KRS-One called “The Jam.”  In between those slicker singles are some more traditional ragga songs that really hit some deep grooves, such as “A Mi Di Girls Dem Love” and “Gun Pon Me” – both of which sound right at home blasting from a boom box on the beach.


After working many years in a record store where I had multiple customers say, in shock, “There’s an entire section for reggae?”, it’s obvious that there are dozens, if not hundreds, of gems that need to find a new life, and what better place to start than with Shabba Ranks.