Tuesday, 9 April 2013

* "Navarro's Notes' "Never Forgotten" 15Th Installment: A Dancehall Original: Shabba Ranks*

Shabba Ranks. Dancehall Reggae Superstar. One of thee few major breakthrough stars in the business. I will be touching on his life and his music in this edition of "Never Forgotten". Of course, if your a follower of my writing, you know that I will also incorporate his music that made him so widely popular. So, sit back and enjoy. We are going to delve into of the all-time greats: SHABBA!!!
Born Rexton Rawlston Fernando Gordon in St. Ann, Jamaica on January 17Th 1966. Little is known of his upbringing. He did however break onto the stage of music being the protégé of Jamaican Deejay, Josey Wales.
If your not familiar with Josey Wales music, then here some samples of his legendary musical talents. Take a listen:
Josey Wales - Yu Wrong Fe Send Come Call Me
Josey Wales - Reggae Music Control
Rexton had a great teacher as you can hear. Later named "Shabba Ranks", he started to make his mark in Reggae and all the Dancehall's by working with stars, Cococa Tea & Crystal from Jamaica. From The U.S. he worked with Chuck Berry, Chubb Rock and KRS-One. His sound was distinct. He had a very raw, gritty, gravely booming voice that sounded like no other before him in Reggae. He already had set himself apart from the pack of the artists that were trying to obtain major break through in the mainstream music scene. He popularized the term "Slackness" in his lyrical content. Here is the meaning of "Slackness" in musical content:
"Slackness refers to vulgarity in West Indian culture, behavior and the music. It also refers to a subgenre of dancehall music with straightforward sexual lyrics performed live or recorded. Its form and pronunciation varies throughout the Caribbean."
Having shaped his voice and lyrical content to reach a mass audience, Shabba was ready for the next step. That next step was to release his very 1st album. The album was released in 1989 entitled: "Best Baby Father", and was produced by King Jammy. The album was released to critical acclaim from his peers and fans of this upstart. Check out some of the tracks from Shabba's 1st effort below:
Shabba Ranks - Born As A Don
Shabba Ranks - Best Baby Father
 Peeny Peeny - Shabba Ranks
Shabba dropped his 2nd album this time with Cocoa Tea & Home T which was titled: "Holding On" which was Produced by Augustus "Gussie" Clarke. The album was released in the same calendar year as his first, in 1989.
Check out the stand out joints from Shabba's 2nd album. Have a listen below. Truly, a blast from the past for all you die hard fans of Shabba:
Home T, Cocoa Tea & Shabba Ranks - Holding On

Cocoa Tea, Home T & Shabba Ranks - Turn It Down
Home T, Cocoa Tea & Shabba Ranks - Pirates Anthem 

Shabba was a on a role so it only made sense to go ahead and keep releasing more and more material to his fans. He did so while raising his profile and getting the right eyes to take notice of him. But, lets continue on with his discography.
In 1990, Shabba released his 3rd album entitled: "Rappin With The Ladies". The album was Produced by Augustus "Gussie" Clarke. The album included collaborations with J.C. Lodge & Deborahe Glasgow. Check out some of the classic cuts from the album below:
Shabba Ranks ft J.C. Lodge - Telephone Love Deh Pon Mi Mind
Deborahe Glasgow & Shabba Ranks - Mr. Lover Man
Shabba Ranks & J.C. Lodge - Hardcore Loving
Shabba Ranks ft. Crystal - Twice My Age
Following the great success of his 3rd album, In 1990, Shabba released his 4Th album entitled: "Just Reality" produced by Bobby "Digital B" Dixon.
The album didn't see the level of success that his 3rd album achieved but there was some memorable cuts. Have a listen below:   
Shabba Ranks - Wicked Inna Bed

Shabba Ranks - Dem Bow
In 1990, Shabba released his 3rd album in the same calendar year and already his 5Th album overall. It was Produced by Mikey Bennett & Patrick Lindsey (Two Friends Label).
Golden Touch had some big records on it that went over looked by some Reggae lovers. Have a listen to the records that I most enjoyed. I hope you enjoy them as well:
Shabba Ranks - Golden Touch
Shabba Ranks - Love Up Your Woman  
Shabba Ranks - Wicked Inna Bed (Part Two)
Then in 1991, Shabba made history as being one of the few Dancehall artists to sign with a major label. Epic Records signed him to release 5 albums.

He wasted no time capitalizing off his huge opportunity. He released his 6Th Album and his 1st for Epic titled: "As Raw As Ever". The album was Produced by Multiple producers including Steelie & Clevie, "Bobby Digital B" Dixon, Mikey Bennett (Two Friends Label) & others.
On May 21st 1991, Shabba Ranks released the album to critical acclaim and major Worldwide success. He was now at his most popular. Below are the huge tracks that came from his major label debut.
Trailer Load A Girls - Shabba Ranks
 Shabba Ranks - Where Does Slackness Come From
 House Call (Your Body Can't Lie To Me) (featuring Maxi Priest) - Shabba Ranks
 The Jam (featuring KRS-One) - Shabba Ranks
The album was a success so much that his 7Th album was released on another label to capitalize off his major label debut stardom. The album was called: "Mr. Maximum" which was released in 1992. The album consisted of New and re-issues/remixes of previous material. The production was handled by Augustus "Gussie" Clarke (tracks: 2–12) / Track 1 Produced by Maxi Priest – Additional production: Mikey Bennett (Two Friends Label).
I have once again included some of the tracks from the album. More accurately, I have included the tracks that are my favorite from the album. I hope that you enjoy my select cuts from Ranks' 7Th album. Have a listen below:
Shabba Ranks - Fever (With Maxi Priest & Dennis Brown)
Shabba Ranks - Lovable
 Shabba Ranks - Fancy Girl With Fabiana
Following the critical success of Shabba's debut album on Epic, he released his 2nd album for Epic and his 8Th album overall on July 14Th 1992. The album was titled: "Rough and Ready Vol. 1". The album featured Multiple producers & New and re-issues of previous material
Below is the cuts that made him even more of a house hold name. Some of which you will see were new and some re-done. Including the first track which was "Mr. Loverman", in which it was recorded and released on the album with Chevelle Franklyn as the lead female vocalist on the track. The song was originally on Shabba's "Rappin' With The Ladies" album. On that track, Deborahe Glasgow was the lead vocalist on the original track. She unfortunately had passed away after becoming very ill.  But, let's go on with the music. Kick back and listen the big tunes.
Shabba Ranks - Mr. Loverman 

Shabba Ranks - Caan Dun
 Shabba Ranks - Raggamuffin
October 1992, Shabba under Epic released his 3rd Album for them and his 9Th Album overall.
The album would go on in 1993 to win a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album Of The Year. It was a monumental moment for Reggae and for Shabba himself. The Album was titled: "X-tra Naked".
Here are the top tracks from the album below:
 Shabba Ranks - Ting-A-ling 

Shabba Ranks - Bedroom Bully
For the next 6 years, from 1993 - 1999, Shabba released 4 more albums {2 more on Epic, 1 on Sony & 1 Independent}. It would be albums 10,11,12 & his final album 13.

Shabba Ranks - Lets Get It On
{From The Album "A Mi Shabba" - 1995}
{The One True Stand Out Record For Me From His Last Four Albums}
Shabba Ranks has had an incredible career spanning over two decades. He is alive and well and has endured a lot in order to achieve the huge cross over success that he was blessed with. He earned it and now he is making appearances wherever he wishes to grace everyone with his legendary status.
How can I forget to mention this which was taken from his official Wikipedia page. I said he was a cross over success. Read this for yourself:
"References in other media
The "Mr. Loverman" video was parodied on the satirical ITV1 puppet show Spitting Image and by Marlon Wayans of In Living Color (an American comedy television series) in a video called "Mr. Uglyman,"[5] which played upon the opinion that Shabba is somewhat unprepossessing. Tyler Perry frequently references Shabba Ranks in his hit plays, specifically I Can Do Bad All By Myself and Madea's Family Reunion. Additionally, Ray Von, a character from Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights, uses the catchphrase "Shabba!". Will Smith also says "Shabba!" during two episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
"Wicked Inna Bed" is featured on the reggae radio station K-Jah West in popular videogame Grand Theft Auto San Andreas."
No matter what is said about Shabba, you must say one thing: LEGEND. Also, keep in mind, that he will NEVER EVER BE FORGOTTEN. But, when you call his name you can only say it one way:
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Tuesday, 2 April 2013

* "Navarro's Notes' "Never Forgotten" 14Th Installment: A Comedic Genius, Dave Chappelle *

Okay, I know what your going to say: "Never Forgotten"? Dave Chappelle? He is still around and on his way to a major comeback from his recent hiatus from the spotlight. So, let me explain. What I am going to cover here in this piece, is his previous work and let you all know that his previous work will "Never {Be} Forgotten". But, let me get there first. So let's begin.

David Khari Webber Chappelle was born August 24Th 1973 in Washington D.C.  Young Dave was born into a very successful family as his father, William David Chappelle III, was a professor at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. His mother, Yvonne {Reed} Chappelle, was a professor at Howard University, Prince George's Community College & The University of Maryland. She was also a Unitarian Universalist minister having worked for revolutionary leader, Patrice Lumumba in the Congo. Dave grew up the youngest of their three children. He has an older sister & older brother.
Dave's mother, Yvonne brought the magazine seen above with Bill Cosby on the cover. As Dave had put it, he knew from that moment that he read this magazine, that he wanted to get into Comedy. He was ready to take the first steps. Now, he just needed some comedic inspiration. 
So, having taken a major interest after reading the magazine, his mother brought him, growing up, Dave's comedic inspirations came mainly from legends, Eddie Murphy & Richard Pryor. So he already had the ambition to be as great as Murphy & Pryor.
After his parents separated, Dave spent summers in Ohio with his father. But, while staying with his mother in Washington, D.C., Dave went to The Duke Ellington School of The Arts to hone his craft for becoming a comedian. In 1991, Dave graduated studying theatre arts. Shortly thereafter, he moved to New York to pursue his career as a comedian.
In his first outing as a comedian, young Dave tried his hand at his new craft having performed at the World's Famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, for amateur night. Needless to say, young Dave was booed off the stage. Dave later described this moment as the moment that he gained courage to continue pursuing his comedic dreams. So Dave, set out and hit the New York comedy circuit.
At age 19, Dave landed a role as "Ahchoo" in Mel Brooks' "Robin Hood: Men In Tights". His star was slowly on the rise. In the same year, he was offered the role of "Benjamin Buford 'Bubba' Blue" starring alongside Tom Hanks & Sally Field in "Forrest Gump". He turned it down, saying that the role was demeaning and that the movie would not do well. He was wrong of course. Thankfully, later on in his career turning down the role didn't harm his career. It did however plant the seeds of something he would later speak publicly about when it pertains to Hollywood.
In 1994, Dave had a supporting role in the movie starring alongside of Calista Flockhart, Kristy Swanson & Matthew Perry in the Comedy film, "Getting In". Television executives took notice of Dave. The string of TV pilots and guest spots on shows such as "Home Improvement" along with fellow comedian and friend, Jim Breuer.
Then in 1996 after having played some minor roles in movies and making appearances on TV, Dave landed the role that in my opinion was his first memorable role which included him working alongside of his greatest influences to do Comedy, Eddie Murphy. The movie was "The Nutty Professor".

Dave played a bully-like comedian, "Reggie Warrington" picking on Eddie's character, "Sherman Klump".  Have a look at the following clips below with their memorable confrontations:
 "Reggie" {Dave Chappelle} Picks On "Sherman" {Eddie Murphy}
& His Date, "Carla" {Jada Pinkett}.
And Below,
"Buddy Love" {Eddie} Exacts Revenge On "Reggie" {Dave}!
Not long after, Dave landed a minor role in the 1997 film "Con Air" Starring Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Steve Buscemi, Ving Rhames & John Malkovich
He played Joe "Pinball" Parker in the film.

Shortly thereafter, at the start of 1998, Dave filmed a half hour HBO Comedy show. Then came his first stand alone performance.
Later that year, with long time friend and co-writer, Neal Brennan, he wrote stoner comedic classic "Half Baked" teaming alongside once again with Jim Breuer.
Much of the movie was shot in my hometown of Toronto and also in New York City. It was a box office success having a budget of $8 million dollars and garnering a healthy earning of $17 plus million.

This was in my opinion Dave's finest moment on the big screen at that point. He had a great supporting cast and was really the star of the show. I saw it myself and I didn't get it at first, I must admit, but I watched it again and I got it and I laughed even more the second time around.
I am not a weed man myself, never have been but I got the humor of it having had so many of my friends and family that smoked the ganja. Some of which even acted like how I saw in the film. The movie was however, when I felt that Dave had arrived. Although, he later went on to say that the film didn't come out as great as the actual script had been written. But, needless to say, the film was just the beginning of Dave's ascension to the top of the Entertainment World.
In December of 1998, Dave appeared in a movie that not many people remembered him being in. My reaction was the same as the dude below:
All jokes aside, Dave was Tom Hanks' close friend "Kevin" in the hit "You've Got Mail" also starring Meg Ryan
In 1999, he had the opportunity to share the silver screen with fellow comedic Icon, Martin Lawrence in his movie "Blue Streak".
In "Blue Streak", Dave plays "Tulley" a former jewel thief accomplice of Martin's character "Miles Logan" in the movie.
With Martin as the star, DaveLuke Wilson, William Forsythe, Nicole Ari Parker & a Platinum certified soundtrack featuring Jay-Z, Ja Rule, Keith Sweat, Heavy D, Foxy Brown, Tyrese and Kelly Price, the movie was a number one box office draw with nearly a $118 million dollars in ticket revenue.      
The height of Dave's stand up comedy success came when in 2000, he recorded his first ever one hour HBO Comedy special entitled "Dave Chappelle: Killin' Them Softly".
Named after one of his favorite songs, the hit "Killin' Them Softly" from one of his favorite Rap groups, The Fugees. Dave's first major comedy one hour comedy special for HBO was a defining moment for his career. Shortly thereafter was the set up for something even bigger for him.
Have a great laugh below watching Dave as he is on the brink of superstardom:

As you can see, Dave hit a homerun with this special. His narratives and story telling flowed and seemed almost conversational while speaking on many news worthy topics at the time. Just genius!
While riding the wave of his new found success with his genius stand up shows, Dave landed himself a role in 2002's Comedy, "Undercover Brother" starring alongside, Eddie Griffin, Denise Richards & Chris Kattan. Dave plays "Conspiracy Brother" in a hilarious role that kept his fans steadily laughing. View the small clip below of some of his funny moments from the film:

In 2003, Dave Chappelle landed his biggest score. He started his own sketch comedy series on Comedy Central called "Chappelle's Show".  Immediately, Dave was the hottest star in Entertainment.
The show debuted on January 22nd 2003 to rave reviews. "Chappelle's Show" parodied a number of topics from Race, Politics, Culture and everything Pop Culture. Dave also had a great supporting cast which included Eddie Murphy's brother, Comedian Charlie Murphy. The cast also featured Donnell Rawlings, Paul Mooney, and appearances from top names from film, movies, the Modeling World and more.
On January 21st 2004, Season 2 of "Chappelle's Show" debut on Comedy Central. The show was red hot and the most successful show on Television. Dave Chappelle's name was everywhere and I remembered how the guy that was coming up and getting more popular now was thee man. He had the platinum touch.
Then on July 9Th 2006, Season 3 "The Lost Episodes" which consisted of only 3 episodes premiered on Comedy Central. The final episode of the very shortened season and of the show overall, was aired on July 23rd 2006.
Okay, Okay. Your probably reading this and saying what the guy above just said. So let's fill in the blanks of the shows demise and where Dave was in all of this. It was a truly bizarre story. So here goes:
Dave was on top of the World. He was everywhere. During this time, he did his 2nd very successful stand up Comedy special while he was enjoying his monster success of his "Chappelle's Show" which was in the 2nd season.
The special was entitled "Dave Chappelle: For What It's Worth" which aired for Showtime from San Francisco's legendary Fillmore Auditorium. The show is featured below for your viewing pleasure:
Dave killed another performance and it only added to his mega stardom. He however was burning out as he would later explain. He was not happy with the way the show was headed into a space that he was not comfortable with. Due to the massive mainstream success that he was enjoying and the incredible record-breaking DVD sales of the first season of his show, he was given a massive $55 million dollar contract from Comedy Central's parent company, Viacom. From this incredible contract, he would also have a nice profit share of the DVD sales of the show. The contract was so that for the next two years, Dave keeps the production of the show going. It was a non-exclusive contract as he would be able to do side projects outside of "Chappelle's Show".
What made Dave's incredible show so huge was his role as Rick James during "Chappelle's Show" "Charlie Murphy's True Hollywood Stories". Charlie's story telling of Rick James' antics in which he and his brother Eddie Murphy experienced with James during The 1980s was driven home with the legendary dead-with-laughter portrayal of Rick James by Chappelle in what turned out to be the single greatest comedy sketch that I have personally ever seen. Not to mention the splicing in of Rick James himself speaking on the events described during this sketch. Well, instead of me telling you check out the clips below:
 Dave Chappelle - Rick James Best Scenes


Dave Chappelle Rick James
Again, GENIUS! Dave Chappelle & "Chappelle's Show" had become the number one Television show on at the time. It spawned off a Pop Culture frenzy. Check some of the things that came from this great performance by everyone involved especially, Dave:
Dave Chappelle as Rick James - Action Figures

 Dave Chappelle as Rick James - Soundboard
 Dave Chappelle as Rick James - Famous Catchphrases
Oh but don't let me sway you into thinking that the show's success was based off one popular sketch. The show with it's supporting cast had some great sketches but none was more creative and controversial, than the character Dave played called "Clayton Bigsby" a black white supremacist.
The concept was truly original and yet made you laugh but still touched on the issue that race is blind but truly ignorant. If you are offended by the language used during the sketch then you missed the point. Have a look at Dave playing "Clayton Bigsbybelow:

Wow! Incredible concept and character. Dave also played Hip Hop superstar, Lil' Jon in "A Moment in the Life of Lil Jon." This spawned a number of catchphrases in Pop Culture especially those that followed the show intensely.
Have a look below at this hilarious sketch featuring Dave as Lil Jon:
Dave Chappelle - Lil Jon Talking to Lil Jon
I found the best description of what happened next on Dave's official Wikipedia page. So I will let them explain in detail what occurred:
"Season three turbulence
In a June 2004 stand-up performance in Sacramento, California, Chappelle walked off the stage after berating his audience for constantly shouting "I'm Rick James, bitch!," which became a catchphrase from the popular "Rick James" sketch. After a few minutes, Chappelle returned and continued by saying, "The show is ruining my life." He stated that he disliked working "20 hours a day" and that the popularity of the show was making it difficult for him to continue his stand-up career, which was "the most important thing" to him. He also told the audience:

You know why my show is good? Because the network officials say you're not smart enough to get what I'm doing, and every day I fight for you. I tell them how smart you are. Turns out, I was wrong. You people are stupid.[18]
Season 3 was scheduled to air on May 31, 2005, but in that month, Chappelle stunned fans and the entertainment industry when he abruptly left during production of the third season of Chappelle's Show and took a trip to South Africa. Chappelle has since stated that he was unhappy with the direction the show had taken.

Coming here I don't have the distractions of fame. It quiets the ego down. I'm interested in the kind of person I've got to become. I want to be well rounded and the industry is a place of extremes. I want to be well balanced. I've got to check my intentions, man.[19]"
And just like that, "Chappelle's Show" was over. It was a bizarre ending to one of the greatest sketch comedy shows. It was just beginning and it's star, Dave Chappelle had left the show abruptly, leaving his family, his friends, the fans, the critics, the media and people that worked on the show baffled as why.

Speaking of which when he finally resurfaced he appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" on February 3rd 2006 after popping up here and there from the time he walked off the show up until this eye opening appearance.
If your not convinced of what Dave was feeling then you must check out his appearance that aired on February 12Th 2006 {Originally filmed on December 18Th 2005} for "Inside The Actors Studio" Hosted by James Lipton.
I believe in what Dave said was the reasoning behind walking away from the show and the money. He said a few things that stuck with me. One of which is the following quote below, have a look:
Moving on, Dave in the midst of season two of his hit show, and before his highly publicized walk out on his own show, filmed a documentary/block party concert which started following Dave from the summer of 2004 to September 2004. The culmination of the filming ended in the hit: "Dave Chappelle's Block Party". The film was released on March 3rd 2006.
Block Party (2005) Trailer (Dave Chappelle, Mos Def and Lauryn Hill)

The film was a success and it also marked the return of The Fugees together for the first time in years. It was a truly historic moment. The party held in Brooklyn, NY was also Dave's display of his influence as well. The Block Party's format was also inspired by 1973 documentary, "Wattstax".
* Dave's Return To His Roots & Present Day *
In 2007 & 2009, Dave successfully made his return to where it started it all for his incredible career: Stand up Comedy. He went after the record of longest stand up comedy show both years at The Laugh Factory.
In April 2007, he broke Comedian, Dane Cook's record of 3 hours and 50 minutes. Then In December 2007, He even broke his own record of 6 hours and 12 minutes which was later broken by Dane Cook in 2008 with 7 hours. On November 19Th 2009 he was disqualified, leaving the stage 5 hours into his routine. But, it proved that Dave hadn't lost a step since the controversy surrounding the end of his highly popular show. Take a look at the clips below of Dave at his best:
Dave Chappelle - Man Rape
 Dave Chappelle - Kramer
 Dave Chappelle - The Secret
Dave, returned to Inside The Actor's Studio with host James Lipton for their 200Th episode which aired on November 11Th 2008. Dave was the host of this historic show interviewing Mr. Lipton. It was a hilarious show.

In 2012, Dave successfully completed 3 shows in Toronto at Toronto's Winter Garden Theatre. He was cited by the city for smoking during his set. He paid an unexpected visit to Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford. For more on the story go here
Over the last year or so, Dave, who is still a bit reclusive popped up in great condition and looked like he was on his way to making a huge comeback.
In earlier 2013, the rumour mill spins as it has been reported that Dave, is gearing up for that aforementioned return to the spotlight. And where? you ask? Well, on a Comedy Tour with Comedic Titan, Chris Rock.  Will it happen? I hope so, and so do Dave's fans.
Recently, Dave appeared at The Comedy Cellar in New York. It's where the rumors began as they performed a surprise set to the delight of the audience in attendance. He appeared with Chris, Kevin Hart. They posed for the picture seen below with those gentlemen including Marlon Wayans, Bill Bellamy and Questlove from The Roots. Check Celebrity blogger, Perez Hilton for the story here.
In closing, Dave Chappelle has had a very successful career and can pretty much write his own ticket of what he wishes to do next. I am a huge fan of his work and I look forward, like everyone else what he does next in the Entertainment World. You know that whatever his next move will be, whether he wishes to step into the major spotlight or not, one thing is for sure....

 * Dave Chappelle Will Never Ever Be Forgotten *
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