Shabba Ranks – Mr. Loverman

 

Release Date: Mar 93
Chart Position: 3

Gouldy
White mansion – check
Two tone sunglasses – check
Women in bikinis – check
Chopping a piece of fruit with a machete – check
White suit – check
Biggest mobile in the world – check

This is what neggae videos should be about, although it does threaten to veer off into ‘Deliverance’ territory briefly, but stops short of the love scene. I’m not overly sure if breaking and entering in the middle of the night is a traditional courting method, bearing a rose or not, Tony Martin wouldn’t have it anyway. These are minor quibbles though in what’s a classic neggae visual feast, the video equivalent of a grill full of jerk chicken.

If ‘Slow and Sexy’ was the nadir of Shabba’s (we’re on first name terms) discography then ‘Mr Loverman’ is the zenith, lyrically he’s concentrated on a subject he’s passionate about and is close to his heart, his sexual prowess. This song is basically a longer, neggae version of this scene, the lyrics aren’t going to change your life but for once Shabbsy reins in the growling nonsense a bit and sounds good so the content isn’t too important. Very nice female vocal as well, solid if unspectacular production, it just fits nicely together, I can imagine putting this on after taking the other half out for a romantic meal at the Harvester (Early Bird special natch). I haven’t yet touched upon the most groundbreaking aspect of this song though, the introduction of the neggae catchphrase or soundbite, I’m referring of course to this,  it’s basically the ‘I have a dream’ of the neggae generation, as soon as the legendary war cry is uttered people know exactly what you’re talking about. Many have tried to emulate this in later tracks, but it’s like the various Sugababes line ups, original is best.
Score: 8/10. SHABBA!

Vince
Even Shabba’s detractors (of which I am one) would struggle to find much wrong about this song. It is a stone cold Neggae classic; at the ruder end of reggae, yet the safer end of dancehall. The song’s pop sensibilities would go on to cost him some of his more hardore dancehall fanbase, but to this 13-year old from Woking it sounded just dandy.
And what a sumptuous groove it is.
Equal parts Soul II Soul and Sly & Robbie, bouncing bass, chunky breakbeat and heavy keyboard chords. Listening back again I hear similarities to Dr. Dre’s Let Me Ride from the same year.
Chevelle Franklyn’s ethereal vocals are exceptional, and this time Shabba’s trademark trainhorn toasting actually works OK. I always loved the line ” A woman tek a trip, she’s coming from England”, something which I’m sure will have helped shift a few more copies over here.
Finally, The SHABBA! cry is the piece de resistence, a moment of pop perfection. Kids shouted in in the playground. The chaps I worked with on the market stall shouted. My Dad shouted it. It entered the collective psyche of early 90s Britain, and a decade later became a brilliant comedic reference point for Peter Kaye via the hapless DJ Ray Von. It would then be regurgitated by mirthlessly by radio simpleton George Lamb, but I guess you’ve got take the rough with the smooth.
The video is great too, with Shabba benefitting from his sensual, tropical homeland to create a vibe that poor old Apache Indian couldn’t quite muster in Southall. Yes, it’s cliched and yes the girls are wearing next to nothing, but what do you expect? It’s SHABBA!
Score: 8/10 (only because there’s better from him to come.)

Jonny
Super sexy neggae!
A masterpiece from Shabba Ranks; and what a come back following the whole Slow and Sexy fiasco! The track is simply brilliant and complimented so well by the collaboration with Chevelle Franklin who’s vocal performance is as good as it gets. Right from the off the sweet melody of the intro captivates you, a few more lines in and following a glimpse at the chorus Shabba rocks up to show us what it’s all about with his signature delivery.
The song builds nicely, flowing between Shabba’s textbook neggae toasting and Franklin’s sweet lyrics peaking as it rolls into the last round of the chorus. The rap is hard to follow, but that is what makes it so good. The quality and style of the delivery mean we don’t have to know exactly what he’s saying, we know what it’s about and we totally get it. Further to this the tune introduced the infamous “SHABBA!” tagline to which has now become synonymous with everything else he has gone on to do.
The video’s not bad either. Shabba just chilling about looking damn cool. Knocking about between his pad in the Caribbean, hanging off the back of a boat in the jungle to chilling out with some hot babes down by the beach who are dancing on a giant chessboard. Checkmate!
The white get-up to match his white 91 Motorola X29 handset (for which we can only imagine he is using to call in for more girls to complete his chess set) is also not to be sniffed at either – “you can’t buy that shit no more!”
For what it is worth I did not appreciate the spoof version created by the US sketch show ‘In Living Colour’ in which Shabba was impersonated by Marlon Wayans – leave it out you twat! Also, I didn’t know that this was a re-issue from 92 before today; not only is neggae fun it’s also informative!
Score: A tip top 9.5/10 from me – SHABBA!\

Norm
Now we are back to neggae with a bang. This is absolutely a summer classic to be enjoyed with a tall frosty pineapple based mixed drink. In my opinion a good neggae tune leaves itself wide open for criticism. With that in mind I will not rip it apart and enjoy it for what it is…. good, solid, commercial island music.
The song starts of well, good beat throughout and then we jump right into what Shabba does best….belting out his distinctive and slightly agricultural rap. The video is quite amusing and worth a watch. Not overly creative, alot of dodgy lower end hip thrusting movements from the ladies on the dance floor. Shabba has a pretty high opinion of himself, his hair dresser and his tailor! That suit is the dogs!
His job is apparently to please the ladies that visit his native Jamaica. I could imagine a craigslist ad encouraging all ladies new to the island to experience the one and only Shabba tour (afternoon tea on his roof of course.)
Score: Chalk the Loverman up for a solid 7.5/10 and a big rebound from his last appearance here.

Jamie
So here he is again. Mr Loverman they call him Mr Lover.
Shabba Ranks first released this song in 1992 and it amounted to nothing, reaching a paltry number 23 in the UK charts and 40 on the US billboard. A year later however after the birth of Neggae, it was deemed the right time to cash in on what would become Shabba’s greatest achievement and legacy.
Mr Loverman reached the top 3 both sides of the water and making Shabba a very rich man in the process. The song also alienated many of his original fan base who felt he’d betrayed his ragga dance hall roots for this polished pop R & B crossover. Take away the minimal horn section and the song itself has no elements of ragga, reggae or dancehall. No West Indian influence whatsoever. In fact if you replace Shabba’s vocal with anyone from the world of Hip Hop or R&B, this is a standard pop (or rap) tune bragging about sexual prowess. Could have been R Kelly, Keith Sweat or even Biggie or Tupac?
I for one can barely understand Shabba Ranks, he sounds like a teenager who’s been sucking on a gas can and talking in slow motion down the woods with his truant pals. On top of the that he seems to repeat everything 3 times. Its like he’s stuck on loop and somebody has to occasionally nudge him in the back to remind him where he is.
Imagine sitting down over a bowl of fruit and having a conversation with somebody who spoke that slowly and repeated everything they said 3 times? You’d come out after an hour feeling like you had died a little on the inside.
If it wasn’t for Chevelle Franklyn’s contrasting female vocal’s this song would actually be quite drab and boring. If anything I think she deserves as much credit for this song as Mr Ranks himself. Mr Loverman is hardly a timeless classic. Whenever I hear the word “Shabba” these days, I think firstly of Peter Kaye’s Phoenix nights fun fair. Not Mr Loverman they call him Mr Lover.
Childish I know, but I actually prefer the Marlon Wayans version
Score: A n u n i m a g i n a t i v e , s l o w a n d d r a w n o u t 4 f o r m e. Largely for Ms Franklyn’s vocal effort.

NEGGAE SCORE: 7.4

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