Shabba Ranks is a household name in the world of reggae and dancehall, and he is the subject of Part 2 of our Dean Meminger's Soul's Survivors series this year as we celebrate Black Music Month.
Shabba Ranks, the reggae superstar, had major hits in Jamaica in the late-1980s.
And by the early 90s, he was a star across the world, especially in the U.K. and the U.S.
"So wherever an instrument is being played, me as a man who loves music has to be connected to it," Shabba Ranks said.
Shabba Ranks signed a recording deal with Epic Records in 1991, which definitely helped him gain international stardom. He's won two Grammies and was the first dancehall artist to win one.
Dancehall has rougher and more violent lyrics than reggae, and his family feared he could be killed while performing in his younger years.
"Dancehall wasn't a great place or a nice place for young kids to be at," Shabba said.
Before all of the awards and U.S. chart-topping songs, in many parts of New York he was already known because of the large Caribbean influence in the city. And he was attracted to the growing rap movement at the time.
The music genres were often blended together in the clubs and at parties. "Hip-hop is a young brother of what we do, dancehall," Shabba reflected. "Straight communication of ghetto people and poor people's music."
Although a lot of his music was, well, let's just say sensual. He also recorded several songs with an R&B feel while teaming up with other entertainers. And he says growing up in Jamaica, he listened to a lot of American R&B artists like the rest of his family and friends did.
"It was always being played on the radio station. Some people don't want to accept, some people don't want to say it, but half of the time, R&B, soul music was constantly being played on the radio station," Shabba said.
Shabba, who lives in the New York City area, doesn't only love music; he's also influenced by all kinds of it.
"After you say the name reggae, hip-hop, rock, you have to say music," he reflected.