The AMAZINGLY beautiful and talented Dj Shiva has put together the PROPER selection in her new mix “She Can Freak It”. Combining every genre of music that personally moves me, I couldn’t help but want to share this piece of art with the rest of you music lovers. ENJOY!
29 Apr 2010 Leave a comment
21 Apr 2010 2 Comments
Shabba Keeps His Rank! 6/17/08
“SHABBA! Him deah! ,” says the deep voice in the exact way that everyone who ever hears his name repeats it. The same powerful way that he is heard in his 1992 “Mr. Loverman” tune. Shabba Ranks, born Rexton Rawlston, was delivered in the “Golden Parish” of Jamaica, Surgetown. From his first time picking up a microphone at the tender age of 13 for a school talent show, it was obvious a star would soon emerge. His career was kicked off in the late 80’s, and before he even knew it, Shabba went from a trouble maker ghetto youth, to an uptown, world famous artist. Carib Press sat down with the remarkable artist who reflected on the past, explained the present, and revealed what’s in the near future.
Carib Press: Greetings from the Carib Press Family. Please tell CP where the name Shabba Ranks came from?
Shabba Ranks: The name Shabba Ranks come from Africa. If you check the map of Africa there’s a little town with the term Shabba but it spelled with one “B”. One of my close friend’s gave me the name Shabba because there used to be a wanted man named Shabba in Jamaica and because I used to love trouble, they gave me the name too.
CP: Like the great Bob Marley and Marcus Garvey, you too were born in Surgetown, JA. Can you tell me one of your fondest childhood memories of your hometown?
SR: One of my childhood memories…well me grow up with my mother and father and food, clothing, shelter and schooling was a major, major priority in my household. I couldn’t tell anyone that I was a suffering kid. I grew up in the ghetto but I wasn’t one of the kids that didn’t have my mom and pops around me. I had proper schooling and proper care from my mother and my father. I understand ghetto life!
CP: A good amount of artist in Jamaica start behind the turntables or with a sound system. Can you tell me a little about Co-Pilot and any sounds you worked with in the early 80’s?
SR: Well Co-Pilot was a named that I received because I was second to the Navigator who always works with a co-pilot. I used to be on a sound named Roots Melody, then I leave Roots Melody and went to King Jammy’s. I did a lil ting with Kilmanjaro but my main upcoming towards dj business was under Roots Melody as the Co-Pilot.
CP: Speaking of Co-Pilot, is it true you showed up on stage in a helicopter once too.
SR: Yeah, when me start hit big time me said me have to do it in a big time way and me start move different. I was doing it for my little island, Jamaica, but I wanted the people outside of my island to receive the news and the message of what I was doing in Jamaica. And when I showed up in a helicopter, people in America start hearing about it, people in Japan start hearing about it, and people in England start hearing about it, people in Africa too. So by me doing that people start seeking out, “Who is this guy showing up in a helicopter?”
CP: Who are some of your early influences that help paved the way for you pulling you up from a ghetto youth to an uptown artist?
SR: Josie Wales, Brigadier Jerry, Yellowman, General Echo. Those are my influential factors that helped to develop my mind to this ting called dancehall music. Josie Wales took me to King Jammy’s studio and that’s where I started making records for Bobby Digital. The minute I went to Jammy’s, I went there with a very brilliant idea of how to make a good record because when I was dj’ing on my little sound as Co-Pilot, everyone was always saying that I was a promising star. That’s why Josie Wales took me to the studio and introduced me to Jammy. And from there, that is where I wanted to be. I just explode man, blow up!
CP: Shabba, you have accomplished nuff fame and gained nuff respect in the music industry at whole, but especially as a young dancehall artist. You emerged in a time with artists like Ninja Man, Yellowman, Super Cat, etc. What do you believe set you apart from the rest of them allowing you to not only be the first dancehall artist to be nominated for a Grammy, but also the first dancehall artist to take the Grammy home twice?
SR: Girls them, the girls them. At that time I was the only one making records for woman. When I came into the business, people were saying that girl’s titties are flappy or girls belly’s marked, because you know when a woman has a baby they have stretch marks pon their stomach. So the type of music that I was making, them other people weren’t making that type of music so that is what gave me longevity in the business. Yeah man because wherever there is woman, there is love, there is birth of music, there is birth of everything. Fresh life…anywhere a woman is gathered then fresh life is there, you see? Me’s a man that dedicate this thing to woman and that is why I stand up until this day.
CP: How did you feel as an individual to have earned your first Grammy that night in 1992?
SR: When I received that Grammy, I was on the mission to accomplish that, you know? Because if you check the tapes that I used to make, you could hear me profess that I am going to make it. When I finally received the first one, it wasn’t a shock. It was the second one that was really the full development because when I got the first one people were like, “Cho, that’s just like a luck ting!” So when me do it again the second time, it was like the mission’s accomplished, you know? Clarity…yeah man, top class and quality man. Me one of the first artist that sold 500,000 copies of a record and bring golden plaque to the ghetto. It was a major accomplishment when I man received that Iyah! My mother proud, my father proud, me make my community proud, me make me island proud, me make everyone proud!
CP: Shabba Ranks is known World Wide now. I am sure it was some of your earlier moves to make tunes with artists such as KRS ONE, Queen Latifah, Johnny Gill and other US artists that helped cross you overseas. Was that originally your idea because you enjoyed hip hop and R&B, or how did that all come about?
SR: All of that was my decision. When I was in Jamaica, I didn’t only listen to my type of music. I listened to R & B, hip hop…I use to listen to Slick Rick, Run DMC, Keith Sweat, Luther Vandros, Stevie Wonder, the OJ’s. All of them people’s music used to play in Jamaica and once I start getting popular I know that I have the power to meet and greet these people to make music with them, so I just say, “Yo! Haffi link, let’s do it!” And I do it because I am a lover of all music.
CP: Till this day, you still seem to have your ears to the streets and stay up to the times. I hear that tune Gun Session with Vybz Kartel, Akon, and Sizzla get nuff forwards inna dance. What can the masses expect from you in the next few months or years?
SR: Well back then I made a song that if my breathe doesn’t leave my body then I will always be making music, I will be making music as long as I got health and strength. But the music industry is not like back then, it’s not the same right now. And the people that deal with the music industry refuse to deal with someone that know the value of himself and know the quality that he possess. They are scared to deal with those of us who have been through the politics and the shadyness of the industry. They rather go to the younger cats and try to deal with them. They act like they never want to deal with Shabba Ranks because them scared of Shabba Ranks. But I know say my people want to hear some Shabba music right now but all I can say to my people who apprecialove me, I will always be making my music. Just keep on listening because the minute I get a chance to start do it like how I used to do it, then I will be blasting off like a rocket. I step away just a little bit to take care of my family life and my home life and I start getting kids. I wanted to take care of my kids but now the kids them get big so me ready to deal with the music to the fullest. Anyone willing to deal with me concerning music, yo I’m so energized! Put it like this, my stomach is still flat and I still got my six pack, I am still in shape, not a gray hair inna me hair and not a gray hair under me chin. Me still deah! Who ever call pon me to do it, I will not disappoint them.
CP: How many youth do you have? And are they into making music?
SR: Two, me have two boys. They got to be doctors or pilots, or pediatricians. If they choose to follow the line of music I will not dispute it. But to a higher level, I’d rather they go forth because their head piece is better than mine. They are getting better schooling than I did. Our people need more doctors in our community so if my children can go and study medicine so that they can help their community, it would be so bountiful for me.
CP: Being that it’s game 6 of the NBA finals, I have to ask if you are following the Celtics and the Lakers?
SR: Straight Boston, you know? Sorry about it LA, but me’s a man who loves the color green. And Kobe already have three rings, time for Kevin Garnett to win won now. It would be so spectacular if Kobe wins his fourth, but it would be special and it would be a blessing and gracious thing if Kevin wins his first. But I love soccer to death. That’s my sport. Back then I thought I would be making money off of music or soccer, but my music career took off first.
CP: Back to the music, do you write your own lyrics?
SR: Yeah man, me responsible for everything. No man inspired or motivated me to do it but God Almighty man. Me and God alone responsible for that. Me can read and write properly Iyah.
CP: Would you say that attending highschool in Jamaica influenced your career?
SB: Yeah man, it made I man stand out in a way because the motto of my highschool was “diligently persistent, strive for excellence”. So going to highschool really make me carry myself in a different manner. Even though me born in the ghetto, it make me know if I have to deal with a lawyer or a judge, I know how to deal with them. Highschool is the most influential factor of my life because when me leave Kingston 11, from that day until now, me carry myself different. That’s why my ways and my movements is so prosperous because me not involved with no trouble, me not walk with trouble. I keep myself out of the foolishness. The hole of the 80’s, 90’s and even the 2000’s…me a popular, me a Mr. Popular, you know? Right now me one of the most wanted dancehall artist cause if you ask anybody who they want to see, them say, “SHABBA! Him deah!” Right now it’s straight music and music and music, you know? And more music!
CP: You mention God, your faith must have a curve in your determination in achieving your goals?
SR: Yeah man, I believe in the power and I man truly believe in Jesus Christ, my mother and father bring me up that way. I pray to the Most High and glorify him because Jesus Christ responsible for me life. Even through the depths of darkness, he provide the path and give me the light to walk the right way. I have strong faith and belief in the Most High.
CP: What’s playing in your music changer right now?
SR: Anita Baker’s Greatest Hits. A that me a listen to! In order for me to get through me ruggedness and roughness, I have to listen to soul music and stimulate my mind and put some more love in my heart so I can go forward to express my love to the woman them.
CP: Would you please take this time to give any last words of encouragement to the people?
SR: My encouragement for the youth is that the world is scared of an educated, black youth. So get your education, defend and love your education. It enables you to do right and not wrong. Because without education you will do foolishness and end up a statistic where the government will only use you to make money off of you. Wherever the guidance is at, whether it be your mother or father or elders, find yourself with older people. Know your roots, know your past, so you can have a proper present. And to all of the man them in the world…every man in the world, help the woman them take care of the kids. A kid without a father is hopeless. Every man must take the responsibility of their kids. Encourage them to go to school because we need more lawyers, more doctors, we need more people to reach the community. Yeah, love life and live, you know?
21 Apr 2010 Leave a comment
It’s was real early Sunday morning and when most folks have either been asleep for some hours, or maybe waking up to go to church, I was amongst the many at Shatto Ballroom in Los Angeles, CA. The semi-packed venue was home to Spragga Benz’s “Pon Di Willy” music video shoot that night. Although he started his performance stating that he would not be performing any of his older tunes, the crowd’s energy must’ve gave him no choice. After Spragga performed four of his new tunes, he kept the early morning crowd pleased with hits like; “Tings A Gwan” and “Wi Nuh Like” to name a few. Special guests’ Legendary Shinehead and Red Square’s female artist Bambi were amongst those he shared his stage with. And if all that wasn’t enough, the interview that followed the much enjoyed night reminded me why and how this extremely humble man has been and remains at the top of the of his game!
Carib Press: Greetings from the Carib Press family. So I know this question is a little tired, but where did the name Spragga come from?
Spragga Benz: Spragga! Well, Spragga come from mi little figure, you know? Skinny! It used to be Spaghetti. So me change up the spig and added tha sprag and it became Spragga.
CP: You started off as a Selectah for La Benz. Tell me what happened back in 1992 during your dubplate session with Buju Banton?
Spragga Benz: Yeah well, it was a Sunday evening. We pick him up and carry him pon the sound to do some dubplates. But when he got there he was sayin he only want give us two songs, he don’t want to give me 4 songs and me must do the other two me self if I want four so I tell him dat I’m not a DJ, but since you mek it look so easy, I’ll do it. Yeah and I jus start saying some freestyle and him say, “Serious ting, you know? Sound good still, you know?”
CP: So a star was born?
Spragga Benz: Yeah! So him start give me some pointer on what to do, how to write that song and you know, I just took it from there.
CP: So after that it was like a “dominoe effect” and all the sounds were asking you for dubplates, who was the first sound that you recorded a dubplate for?
Spragg Benz: The first dubplate was call, “Love Mi Gun” for La Benz cause it our sound, you know? So nobody didn’t know that we are the dj until I did the second dub that is “Jack It Up” and then from there we a run it! That’s when me added up to the forefront because “Love Mi Gun” was popular but people didn’t know who it was and we didn’t really want em to know cause it was just fun at the moment, you know? Wasn’t really a serious thing. But the popularity from “Jack It UP” made it official.
CP: During that time it was pretty much the rude bwoy era of dancehall. You were coming out with artist like Buju Banton, Beenie Man, Terror Fabolous and you were just a Selectah turned DJ, so how was it sharing a stage with all these legends?
Spragga Benz: The cream of the crop. Well, it was awesome, you know? Because I really didn’t get the training same way. Cause most of the guys them been doin’ it since they were younger, you know? Until dem beefen up and gradually became popular. But my thing, me just kill a sound spontaneously over night. I wasn’t really fully prepared. So the first show I went to was Reggae Sunsplash and it was kind of intimidatin’ in that way to go up there and see 30,000 people in front of you the first time you are on stage and you are expected to move this 30,000 people when at that time I only had four songs, you know? So I just did what I did, you know? Didn’t let it intimidate me cause the big artist was there.
CP: Moving to current affairs, whats new with your Red Square Crew?
Spragga Benz: Red Square is always developin’ new artist. We always workin’ with Sugar Slick and Bad Greg Hines, you know? That’s part of the crew. Assassin, see Assassin develop inna him own now. So him good, you know? Bambi, she new and we never did really have a girl inna the whole circle, you know? Yeah, we kinda try to develop her into a tuff new artist.
CP: And what about yourself, what is current with Spragga Benz?
Spragga Benz: I’m recording an album right now. One more album with Stephen Marley. We done about 15 or 16 track now so…but we still writin’ and doin’ more songs together.
CP: So he’s producing or he’s on the tracks also?
Spragga Benz: Yeah, he’s producin’ the whole album. We haven’t done the collaboration track just yet cause he’s into the producing thing, you know? But the thing so far…BAD! We doin the album with MBIG and it’s called “The Prototype,” which I did 4 of the songs them tonight. When that ready, I have the next album with Salaam Remi. We gonna do that one on itunes first; itunes release soon. So I have a lot of musical works comin’.
CP: What about some acting ? I know you played a role in “Brooklyn Babylon” and starred in “Shottas.”
Spragga Benz: Well, I just got a script about two months ago and me work on that. And couple more things, you know? (hesitation in his voice)
CP: Can’t say too much?
Spragga Benz: Nah, not yet. Couple things in the works.
CP: So you enjoy acting?
Spragga Benz: Well, depends. I only did it twice and if I am with people I’m comfortable with, yeah it can be fun.
CP: How was it as a Rasta to play a rude boy, top shotta in the movie “Shottas”?
Spragga Benz: It’s like uh, Rasta are real revolutionary people and if we have a cause it nah gwan to be wasted energy like that. Undirected, you know? If you are a Rude Boy, you have a definite object that you want to tackle, you know?
CP: Your never heard talking negative about other artists or artists talking negative about you? So how do you stay out of the negativity when the dancehall is known, and can be, heavy in that?
Spragga Benz: No time for that. No time for that! We don’t need that. The dancehall don’t even need that. Competition is always good. And people like the energy of the competition, but when they take it too personal, I’m not with that. And because I know that I’m the type of person that easily take things personal, I try not to disrespect anybody! Kharma, you know? What go up, come down! I don’t diss them, them don’t diss me! And if they do diss me, I try not to follow it and just leave it as an artist that tryin’ to make a living at my expense. That’s no problem, you know?
CP: In the “Africa Unite” dvd there is a glimpse of you with the Marley’s. How was that trip to Ethiopia? Was it a spiritual journey?
Spragga Benz: Whoooa! Yeah mon, that was an eye openin’, whole life, experience. Tourin’ His Majesty’s palace and actually goin’ into His Majesty’s bedroom and seein’ how the whole thing set up, you know? His desk set up by his bed to show you H.I.M not a man of play! Eye openin’ and on the ball. The whole thing a serious thing mon…yeah mon! We were playin’ in Mesecal Square and to date that’s still my biggest audience, about 300,000 people…as far as your eyes can see, each direction except up and down. All different kinds of people, you know?
CP: Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Spragga Benz: Yeah mon, just more life and give thanks to all of the fans that support me, you know? Hopefully I can continue to please dem!
CP: I am sure you will. Blessed Love!
31 Mar 2010 2 Comments
It wasn’t anything that was well planned out. Not anything I was expecting to happen. It was a straight spontaneous trip to visit my good friend Dinah who had decided to travel to Belize. Her original plan was to travel through out Central America and then she did some research on an island in Belize. She rented a place on this beautiful, small island called Caye Caulker. When I say small, I mean 5 miles long and less than a mile wide small. No cars, only golf carts for the business owners or bikes for those who can afford them small. Population of about 1300 people small. But in such a small place lies SUCH LARGE BEAUTY. Within the people, the food, the music, the scenery, the vybz all together were just UNBELIZEABLE. Dinah was suppose to only be there for one month and four months later I was begging her to come home. Many of our friends made it out there to visit while she stayed on the island and every single one of us extended our trips and had a hard time leaving. I not only stayed on Caye Caulker, but I also was able to travel to Belize City, took a taxi from there to San Ignacio, cave explored there, saw some Mayan ruins, rode the bus back through Belmopan, and even water taxi’d to San Pedro for an overnight trip. The impression left on my heart and yes I said heart was LOVE. I fell in love with this diverse Country. Belize has 12 ethnic groups. The major groups are Mestizo, Creole, Mayan, Garifuna, and Mennonite. The Mestizo are mixed Spanisha and Mayan descendants of the Yucatec Maya and came to Belize by way of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico in 1847 to escape the La Guerrera De Castas (the Caste War). The Creole are a mix of the British and the African slaves brought to Belize in Eighteenth Century. The Mayans of Belize date back to 2500 B.C. Their are many beautiful ruins, ceremonial grounds, and an over all powerful existence of the Mayans now. The Garifuna are Carib and Arawak Natives that mixed with escaped Africans from 2 slave ships that sank in Caribbean in the 17th Century. And the most shocking to me, the 30,000 Mennonites. The Mennonites are originally from Germany and Russia but came to Belize through Mexico and now handle most of Belize’s agriculture. They dress like Amish and make furniture as well. There also is a large amount of Chinese people in Belize. I noticed most all the grocery stores that I shopped in were China markets. I also ate amazing Chinese food on Caye Caulker. All together, my trip made me want to work hard enough to be able to buy property out there so when the time is right, I can enjoy 3 months out of my year there. Belize has instantly become a home away from home for me. I love Caribbean culture and reggae music and everywhere I went, I heard it. I also found a new love in their native Punta music. Everyone speaks a dialect of English that they call Creole. It is extremely similar to patois, so similar that I didn’t know there even was a difference. I listen to so much dancehall, I had no problem understanding anyone. Well, maybe the Chinese people. (lol, sorry but truth) I encourage folks to not only travel, but visit Belize. You too will be in awe that such a place exists. Here are some of my pictures of my journey. Enjoy!!!
I must write a little intro to the next few pictures because this has got to be one of the most adventurous things I have ever done. Dinah and I decided to do what they call the ATM tour. Actun Tunichil Muknal, “the Crystal Maiden”, cave is named after a 16 year old females skeleton that lays untouched. The cave was Mayan ceremonial grounds dating back to over 2,000 years ago. I wasn’t too sure what I was getting myself into except for the fact that we needed to wear fast drying clothes, tennis shoes, and be prepared to be gone all day. We show up and our tour guide Renan and 4 others jump in a truck, stop at a house to pick up our home made lunches, and drove about 45 minutes out of San Ignacio. I fully enjoyed the drive, the tree farms we saw were gorgeous. Once we arrived into this little parking lot, we were given helmets and backpacks with our lunches and we hiked about a mile and a half to cool little spot to eat our lunches at the mouth of the cave. We eat, it was delicious and nice to meet the others we were adventuring with. Then it was time to do what? Jump in the water??? Yup, we had to hike, swim, climb, crawl, scale the cave walls, etc. It was so freakin cool. We all had helmets with dim personal lights so it was pitch black. When Renan would stop to educate us, he would turn on his flashlight and I saw the BIGGEST spiders, bats, fish, etc. I never felt scared…..I felt like a real Archeologist. Being that I am a daughter of a Geologist, I loved the rock formations. The Mayans believed this to be the “Tree of Life” and they would bring in ceramic pots to give offerings to their ancestors. Their were also many bones and body parts in what could’ve been sacrifices. Let me not keep rambling, my pictures will say so much more.
Yeah yeah, I was itching for about a month after and when I say itchy, that’s an understatement but not even these bites or those damn flys would stop me from wanting to go back ASAP. I miss Belize everyday and I’ve been home for 4 months now. I am SO blessed to have experienced all this. Life is too sweet!
16 Oct 2009 Leave a comment
ES Sports Vol. 1
Techniec, Bloc Rebel Media Group & September 7th bring you some of the hottest & recent upcoming artists outta Long Beach California w/ more on the way… “ES Sports Vol.1” is a new series masterminded by none other than the bloc rebel himself, Techniec! This project is full of exclusives/features so take a listen and prepare for Vol.2 cause the beach has something to say… Long Beach that is…
1-Stuck In The Game – Techniec (prod. by Fist2cuffs)
2-By The Ton – Techniec feat. J Conway
3-See The Haters – Lil Bam
4-Nightmare – Tiny C-Style (prod. by L’s)
5-Overfly – Techniec
6-So Real – Techniec (prod. by L’s)
7-C.U.S. – Techniec feat. J.U (prod. by L’s)
8-Cold As Ice-T – Techniec
9-Big Baller (Rebel RMX) – Techniec feat. J Conway
10-D.C. Rebel – Techniec
11-Big Pimpin 09′ – Techniec feat. Day Day & Tiny C-Style (prod. by L’s)
12-Still So Fresh – Techniec (prod. by AAA Music)
13-Bread Git – Techniec (prod. by Wyseguy)
14-Sumpn Else – Techniec feat. Dynamic Certified (prod. by Earlybird)
28 Sep 2009 1 Comment
In May of 2008, I joined the Carib Press (Los Angeles based Caribbean Press Magazine) team as a writer and photographer for the Entertainment section. I always have enjoyed attending shows and concerts so I figured why not write about it and take photos to document them. My good friend Carolioness was already the Editor and she asked if I was interested in making the best of being out all the time. It was a great opportunity so I jumped on it and I’m so thankful that I have. I have had amazing experiences and it’s opened many doors for me. Not to mention, I get in to shows for free. I have interviewed and photographed MANY of my favorite artists. And let me tell you, festivals are enjoyed on a WHOLE other level when you are in the photo pit. Let’s just say I pretty much see it all from up there and backstage. Life has been good! LOL Here are some of the photos from various shows. Unfortunately many of the shows that I have photographed required me to sign that they would ONLY be used for Carib Press so I am sharing what I can. Enjoy, feel free to comment. BUT PLEASE DON’T STEAL PICTURES!