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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Shabba Pushes Persona Not the Music

April 05, 1993|DON SNOWDEN

If Maxi Priest is the new reggae generation's romantic seducer, Shabba Ranks is the reigning king stud. But in his sold-out first show at the Strand in Redondo Beach on Friday, the Jamaican dancehall deejay spent too much time pushing the persona at the expense of the music.

True, boasting has been integral to both dancehall and rap, and Shabba's aggressively sexual stance may be the reason behind his American success and catalytic role in the dancehall/hip-hop link. But he too often disrupted the momentum Friday with asides that detracted from the band's strong support.

The bluster of Shabba's gruff voice was particularly effective on "House Call" and "Slow and Sexy," as a contrast to Dr. Paul's capable handling of the vocal parts that are sung on record by Maxi Priest and Johnny Gill, respectively.

Shabba (real name: Rexton Gordon) walks a thin line between celebrating the joy of sex and reducing women to sex objects, but it's not a cut-and-dried situation.

Having the crowd yell "Shabba" during the chorus of "Mr. Loverman" was sheer ego-aggrandizement, but then he broke into a mid-song rap about never disrespecting women or calling them demeaning names. Go figure.

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