RAPPIN WITH THE LADIES showcases the talents of reggae's Shabba Ranks with remastered tracks.
Shabba Ranks' career has focused on singles, including several on which he collaborated with other male DJs. Rappin' With the Ladies, in contrast, is a full album of songs by J.C. Lodge, Deborah Glasgow, and others reconceived as showcases for Shabba. The first track is "Telephone Love Deh Pon Mi Mind," a sequel to Lodge's "Telephone Love" constructed from the original. While this new version features studio remixing, the other new tracks rely on Shabba's presence alone to create a fresh sound. He comes through on "Mr. Loverman," a version of Glasgow's "Champion Lover." When Glasgow implores her lover "don't ease up tonight," Shabba answers her in a pulsating vocal delivery that heightens the power of the rhythm track. "Hardcore Loving" also makes good use of his presence to fill out the sound of Lodge's "Selfish Lover," and the remaining tracks follow this pattern. Shabba's sexual ability is the usual theme, of course, but the duet format forces a lyrical emphasis on intimacy and collaboration that is not typical in his solo work. That makes for a winning display of Shabba's talent, and with full-sounding production courtesy of Music Works, this disc offers consistent pleasures for dancehall fans throughout its generous length. ~ John Gonsalves