TROJAN RAGGA BOX SET (TJETD207) - Big Surprise, Trojan gwaan hardcore Raggamuffin.

So how do we define Ragga?

It is widely accepted that Ragga emerged in the mid-eighties when Prince Jammy unleashed Wayne Smith's legendary, 'Under Mi Sleng Teng' on his Superpower Sound System. The story goes that an up and coming singer named Noel Dailey owned a Casio electronic keyboard that he used for rehearsing his songs. Noel had been a friend of Wayne Smith and on this particular day the duo were sampling preset rhythms to accompany the young singer's rehearsals. The two singers selected a rock rhythm and when they heard it, the duo saw the hit potential in those beats. Working on the rhythm they slowed it down and unwittingly established the birth of the digital age in Jamaican music, more popularly known as Ragga. Ragga is barely distinguishable from Reggae dancehall and often leads to debate as to what track fits into which category. One thing is certain the DJs and singers on this set are bonafide Ragga.

The Recordings...

One of the foundling Ragga DJs Shabba Ranks opens the set with 'Uno Fi Move' before making way for Bounty Killer's protégé, Elephant Man. The, recently crowned DJ giant shizzles him nizzle with 'Cute Face', which was one of the songs that singled him out as the first member of the Scare Dem Crew to be recognised in his own right. Buju Banton has developed into a cultural icon, in spite of a homophobic hullabaloo, however, when he recorded 'Gal You Body Good', he was an up and coming ragamuffin hero whose style led to a host of imitators.

Next up is Simpleton whose 'Coca Cola Bottle Shape' led to a series of similarly themed hits although for our selection we find the DJ performing 'Pretty Little Angel' in fine style. Wayne Wonder recently enjoyed international notoriety through Atlantic Records, with his take on the 'Diwali' rhythm. Here he lets go alongside Major Oney for 'Come Mi Darling'. Dirtsman's potential was also recognised by a major record label's A&R people who were moved by tunes such as 'Watch The Girl'. Sadly when he was on the cusp of mainstream success he was gunned down and our featured track clearly demonstrates what a waste of talent that was. Another ragamuffin hero who met an untimely demise was Early B who is best remembered for his 'Sunday Dish' that was recently revived on the 'Creole Box Set' (TJETD 161) and from those sessions we have featured 'Girls Dem Sexy'. The singjay style of Conroy Smith is next up in tandem with DJ Cobra for the celebrated 'Body Basics'. The DJ later became known, as the Mad Cobra also appears with another Ragga chart favourite, the controversial 'Shoot To Kill' on disc three.

Like Elephant Man, General B started plying his trade in a dancehall team, namely the 'Monster Shack Crew'. He later enjoyed notoriety in his own right with hits like the wicked 'A Woman Yu Hot'. Red Dragon almost topped the UK pop chart in 1994 with Brian & Tony Gold for the R&B styled 'Compliments On Your Kiss', although he maintained a Ragga connection with hits including 'Gal You Hot'.

Galaxy P is now best known as a producer scoring heavily with the X300 rhythm and Capleton's smash, 'Tek It Off'. He began his career as a DJ and released the questioning 'Gal A Wey You Do Me', which inspired his female counterpart Lady P to record the inviting 'Wuk Mi Tender' that leaves little to the imagination. The citrus fruit loving Lieutenant Stitchie has recently found God, but in his ragamuffin days his love interest was of a more earthy nature as demonstrated on his declaration, 'Girls Nowadays'. The late lamented Ragga DJ, Poison Chang performs 'Gal Skin Out', which is testament to his memory; incidentally his style lived on through his son Stylo G who continued his good work as part of True Flex.

The number of female DJs is woefully small and many such as Lady Mackerel whose 'Wife And Matie' featured here performed in the shadow of her mentor, the late Major Mackerel, who appears later in this compilation. We close our first look at the Ragga phenomenon with dancehall singer and Jammy's protégé, Echo Minott, who performs the sublime 'Girl Of My Complexion'.

Beenie Man's global reputation exceeds his Ragga profile but when he performed 'Three Against War' with the big guns, Dennis Brown and Tristan Palmer, they proved that even weapons of mass destruction could not stop them. Admiral Tibet first found fame in the mid eighties. With the veteran DJ Michigan of Studio One fame, he replaced Smiley for the one-off, 'Children Of The Ghetto'.

Another righteous DJ was the notorious Anthony B, who in his own distinctive way echoed the well-known story of the Joshua and the Walls of Jericho as 'Beat Down Babylon Wall', before the aforementioned Major Mackerel keeps up the momentum with the conscientious 'Read Jah Bible'.

Welton Irie is a long established DJ who enjoyed notoriety prior to the Ragga craze. In the mid-nineties with producer Niney he came back strong with 'Assassination'. From the same sessions Welton's long time sparring partner Johnny Ringo, who is noted for his risqué hits, steps up later on this set for the dancehall favourite, 'Special Request'.

Linval Thompson performs in combination with Junior Demus for a take on Delroy Wilson's 'I'm Not A King' that enjoyed a revival in 1997 through Cocoa Tea's version that in turn led to a series of hits on the rhythm with Bobby Digital. Major Worries was another victim of the gun culture that plagued the Jamaican music industry. The DJ's drunken master style on his debut, 'Topa' led to a series of hits including the incredible 'School Days', which leaves this writer believing he could have enjoyed a long and fruitful career.

Next up is the surviving veteran known as the 'outlaw' Josie Wales, who performs the braggadocio, 'Send For Josie'. The song was released way before his bad boy image was put to the test when he was attacked in a Kingston bar. He bounced back to top of the Jamaican chart, however, when he recalled the events on his suitably titled hit, 'Bush Whacked'. Baby Cham released the album 'Wow' that enjoyed a high profile in the Reggae charts, but before he scored big time it was the legendary producer Shelley who recognised his sparkling potential, as demonstrated in the ruff and rugged 'Shoot Out'.

Being the only Jamaican artist to be signed by Motown earned Ritchie Stephens nuff respect and he recorded with a number of DJ's, including Dirtsman's brother, Papa San, who as you will hear skillfully rides the rhythm alongside Ritchie for 'Jump Up'. Papa San also features as a soloist for Bunny Lee, who tried his hand in the Ragga arena with the DJ for the educational 'Alphabet Style'.

The Jamaican fast talker, General Trees began his career in the eighties although he proved he could ride contemporary rhythms when he released 'One Hundred Per Cent' and the suitably titles album Ragga Ragga Raggamuffin. Johnny P has the distinction of being the first DJ to record with Ragga specialists Steelie and Clevie, prior to recording the proverbial 'Who Next' with Shelley. lukie D was once a member of the Firehouse crew before he performed alongside Thriller U in L.U.S.T. As a soloist he released notable hits including his tour de force, 'Centre Of Attraction' and the Raggamuffin favourite, 'Devoted'.

Next up is Louie Culture's classic 'Gangalee', which while proving a smash hit in its own right is widely acknowledged as the rhythm that provided the foundation to Bounty Killer's Ragga anthem 'Down In The Ghetto'. The entertaining Merciless closes disc two with Bunny Lee's production of 'Front Page' that echoes the DJ's style of hits such as 'Mavis' and 'Len Out Mi Mercy'.

Stinga D might not have enjoyed the same notoriety as some of his contemporaries, but in our track, 'Unoo Fi Cool', he rides 'The Good The Bad The Ugly' rhythm, which carried the swing in the mid nineties. However over twenty years before that particular tune led to a slew of versions, Ansel Collins recorded 'Stalag 17', which has also enjoyed a series of revivals over the years, including Tenor Saw's original 'Ring The Alarm'. Following the singer's demise, the self styled Gargamel, Buju Banton revived the rhythm inna Ragga Stylee for 'Ring The Alarm Quick Quick', resulting in the hit, aside from 'Sleng Teng', being one of the most versioned Jamaican tunes of all time.

Buccaneer, the classically trained DJ with the bleach ring, has earned a reputation as being a maestro in the Ragga arena for hits such as 'Skettel Concerto' and 'Man Tief Sonata'. While his DJ/operatic style proved popular he could still chat with the best of them, as you will hear on the wonderful 'Self Protection'.

The late Tinga Stewart joined the original Don Gorgon, Ninjaman for their combination hit, 'Cover Me'. The song was originally a soul hit for Percy Sledge, which I'm sure you'll agree works surprisingly well in a Ragga style. Next up is the prophet, Capleton, whose uncompromising delivery in 'Murder Dem' demonstrates why he constantly tops of the Ragga charts with his More Fire tag. Better known for his cultural style, Charlie Chaplin stepped into the Ragga arena with the contentious 'Send Ninja Home', a song aimed at the 'original gun pon gold tooth don gorgon' who temporarily found religion and resurfaced as Brother Desmond.

Following the Stur Gav legend is the unique General TK who mashed up the dance with 'I Spy' a classic that should need no introduction having topped the Ragga chart in 1993. Gospel Fish also enjoyed a high profile in the UK from sessions at the 'A Class' studios and crossover sccess with Yazz and Aswad. Prior to his UK runnings he recorded with a host of Jamaican producers including Dennis Star whose 'Come In The Place' regularly mashed it up inna the dance.

The inspirational Flourgan is celebrated for introducing ragamuffins, Buju Banton and Terry Ganzie to the dancehall. On this set he performs 'Line Up' and also reappears in combination with Ninjaman for the chart-topping, 'Zig It Up'. Having enjoyed success in combination with Leroy Smart in the Jamaican charts with 'Money friend', Baby Wayne recorded 'Weh They Defend' with Shelley, as well as with the Stone Love Crew. General Pecos is another DJ who found his greatest success were with Steelie & Clevie, who 'assisted' executive producer, Bert Douglas on a number of hits, including the troubling 'Gun Frantic'.

Our final DJs all nurtured their skills before the arrival of Ragga and easily adapted to the new digital style. The first of these is Tullo T, whose 'Mi Afraid Of Aids Carrier' cleverly delivered an all-important message while keeping it real inna de dance. Louie Lepke is best known for his work with Joe Gibbs, although with Niney he performed the excellent 'Top Juggling' that echoed the excitement of experiencing a live Ragga set with nuff niceness. The Nicodemus inspired Chaka Demus into the dancehall, although before Chaka joined Pliers, he performed as Nicodemus Junior. While Chaka went onto relish international notoriety, Nicodemus joined Supercat's 'Wild Apache' posse in New York following his success with 'Keeping A Dance'.

Our final track features the return of both Red Dragon and his brother, Flourgan, inna combination style for the wicked and wild 'Follow Me' that closes our first look at the phenomenon, credited for inspiring the birth of Hip-Hop.

So there it is Trojan inna hardcore stylee.

There is a school of thought that pre-programmed sounds cannot replace the human touch of real instruments, but, as you will hear, in the right hands computer rhythms can be equally as exciting as those Ska, Rocksteady, Reggae and Roots hits from the foundation. So take my advice skip the analysis, open your ears and check these classic Ragga tracks.

Stephen Nye

DISC 1

DISC 2

DISC 3

Uno Fi Move
Shabba Ranks
Cute Face
Elephant Man
Gal You Body Good
Buju Banton
Pretty Little Angel
Simpleton
Come Mi Darling
Wayne Wonder featuring Major Oney
Watch De Girl
Dirts Man
Girls Dem Sexy
Early B
Body Basic
Conroy Smith/Cobra
A Woman Yu Hot
General B
Gal You Hot
Red Dragon
Gal A Weh You Do Me
Galaxy P
Wuck Me Tender
Lady P
Girls Nowadays
Lt Stitchie
Gal Skin Out
Poison Chang
Wife And Matie
Lady Mackerel
Girl Of My Complexion
Echo Minott

Three Against War
Beenie Man/Dennis Brown/Tristan Palmer
Children Of The Ghetto
Michigan featuring Admiral Tibet
Beat Down Babylon Wall
Anthony B
Read Jah Bible
Major Mackerel
Assassination
Welton Irie
I'm Not A king
Linval Thompson & Junior Demus
School Days
Major Worries
Send Fi Josie
Josie Wales
Shoot Out
Baby Cham
Jump Up
Ritchie Stevens & Papa San
One Hundred Per Cent
General Trees
Special Request
Johnny Ringo
Alphabet Style
Papa San
Who Next
Johnny P
Devoted
Lukie D
Gangalee
Louie Culture
Front Page
Merciless

Unoo Fi Cool
Stinga D
Ring The Alarm Quick Quick
Buju Banton & Tenor Saw
Self Protection
Buccaneer
Cover Me
Tinga Stewart featuring Ninjaman
Murder Dem
Capleton
Send Ninja Home
Charlie Chaplin
I Spy
General TK
Come In A De Place
Gospel Fish
Shoot To Kill
Cobra
Line Up
Flourgon
Weh Then A Defend
Baby Wayne
Gun Fanatic
General Pecos
Mi Afraid Of Aids Carrier
Tullo T
Zig It Up
Ninjaman
Top Juggling
Louie Lepkie
Keeping A Dance
Nicodemus
Follow Me
Red Dragon & Flourgan

Time - 57:43

Time - 58:52

Time - 60:36

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