Friday, June 17, 2016

Day 230 of 365 Day Jamaican Music Challenge - Ranking Dread - Leaving Out Babylon

I have seen it mentioned before that the life story of Winston Brown AKA Ranking Dread would be perfect material for a gangster movie and once you hear it I think you'll agree... musically Ranking Dread came up through the ranks of the Ray Symbolic sound system in Jamaica but once he settled in the UK he took up residence with London's Lloyd Coxsone sound.  He had a minor hit in the UK with his Junjo produced single "Fattie Boom Boom" but by the time the mid-80s rolled around he found his past trouble with the law catching up to him.  

You see it seems he was involved with Jamaican Labour Party don Claude Massop, was wanted in connection with as many as thirty murders and was labeled by the British press as "The most dangerous man in Britain and the number one Yardie Godfather."  Brown was also being investigated as the head of a drug-dealing and armed robbery gang and was wanted in connection to charges of prostitution, rape, murder and dealing in crack cocaine.  During the time he lived in England under as many as twenty different aliases and when the police finally arrested him in 1988 with drugs in his possession at his own illegal drinking club, he was deported back to Jamaica on a charge that he had entered the United Kingdom illegally but a short time later he fled to Canada.  Eventually he was recaptured and sent back to Jamaica where he spent the remainder of his days in prison where he died in 1996.  

Now mind you, this is just the short version... I didn't even go into the story of the Nigerian rival drug dealer who attempted to pass off fake cannabis and was thrown to his death from his apartment window to the street below with his TV remote still in his hand or the belief that rival gangs had that Ranking Dread and his posse were protected by black magic and obeah... if you want to read more, or possibly start writing the screenplay check out this excellent blog London Street Gangs which goes into a lot more detail about the life or the musician turned crime world boss.  But you may be asking yourself, "what the hell does all this have to do with the 365 Day Jamaican Music Challenge?"  Today's track is by the man known as Ranking Dread and it comes from his 1979 album Kunta Kinte Roots on the Burning Sounds label.

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