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Ninjaman

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Biography

One of the most popular dancehall DJs of the late '80s and early '90s, Ninjaman was also perhaps the most controversial, thanks to his often violent, progun lyrics. His bad-man image overshadowed the fact that he was a hugely talented freestyle lyricist, and the owner of a theatrical, stuttering delivery that made him a highly distinctive toaster. What was more, he did delve into social commentary at times, protesting war and the harsh realities of ghetto life rather than glamorizing their attendant violence. By the late '90s, Ninjaman was making far more headlines due to his turbulent personal life than his music, but even if his recording activities had tailed off, he remained a popular -- and still polarizing -- concert act. Ninjaman was born Desmond John Ballentine on January 20, 1966, in Annotto Bay, in the Jamaican province of St. Mary. His family moved to Kingston when he was 11, and he started DJing a year later under the name Double Ugly. Initially performing for the Black Culture sound system, he moved over to the Kilimanjaro organization in the early '80s, and there got the chance to learn from Super Cat and Early B. He changed his name to Uglyman, then Ninjaman when another artist of the same name came forward. Kilimanjaro started its own label, and in 1987 Ninjaman got the chance to make -- and self-produce -- his first single, a duet with Courtney Melody called "Protection." It was a success, and led to further hit collaborations under producer Lloyd Dennis in 1988, most notably "Cover Me" with Tinga Stewart and "Zig It Up" with Flourgon. Over the next few years, Ninjaman recorded prolifically for a variety of producers, including King Jammy, Philip "Fatis" Burrell, Redman, Ini Kamoze, Bobby Digital, Gussie Clarke, and Steely & Clevie, among others. His hits over the years 1989-1992 established his image as one of the most dangerous rude boys around: the controversial "Murder Dem," the chilling "Permit to Bury," "Border Clash," "Laugh and Grin (Mad Ninja)," "Test the High Power," "My Weapon," "Above the Law," "Reality Yuh Want." He also continued to cut duets with partners like Cocoa Tea, Gregory Isaacs, and Linval Thompson, and teamed up with both Shabba Ranks and Admiral Tibett for "Time Is Serious." As Ninjaman's popularity began to approach that of Ranks -- at least in Jamaica, where all the gun talk wasn't yet a liability -- the two struck up a spirited rivalry, trading barbs at many a concert clash. At the height of his notoriety, Ninjaman christened himself with the alternate appellation "Original Front Tooth, Gold Tooth, Gun Pon Tooth Don Gorgon," and inspired a legion of imitators with their own ninja-themed names. By 1993, however, Ninjaman's gun-toting rude boy persona was beginning to spur a backlash. Criticized as irresponsible, he began to find it more and more difficult to get recording or performing gigs. He worked with producers Henry "Junjo" Lawes and Junior Reid during this period, but his career momentum was fading fast, and by the mid-'90s his recording activity had tailed off substantially. Battling problems with crack cocaine, in 1997 Ninjaman became a born-again Christian, and began performing gospel reggae tunes under the name Brother Desmond. The switch wasn't entirely permanent, however, leading to condemnations from some in Jamaica's Christian community. That was only the beginning of a series of incidents that kept Ninjaman's name in the headlines in spite of the decline of his recording career. True to the character he played in the 1999 film Third World Cop, he had several run-ins with the law during the late '90s; among other allegations, he was accused of raping a woman at knifepoint in his home, and -- most seriously -- murdering a taxi driver in late 1999. He was acquitted on those charges, but convicted of unlawfully possessing a firearm and ammunition, and sentenced to a year in jail (also in late 1999). While serving his sentence, Ninjaman was reportedly assaulted by prison guards for attempting to shield his cellmate from a beating. Things didn't calm down upon his release, either; in July 2001, he was rushed to a hospital after suffering several machete wounds, some to the head, from a family associate trying to break up a physical dispute between him and his common-law wife. (He was later charged with domestic assault.) Several months later, he was arrested for driving erratically. In the summer of 2002, he was arrested again following a profanity-laced tirade at the Reggae Carifest, which resulted in his being dropped from subsequent festival engagements. ~ Steve Huey
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Top Tracks

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  3.   Border Clash
  4.   Woman A "U" Ways
  5.   Taste & Buy
  6.   The World
  7.   Preps by Japanese
  8.   Shot a Talk
  9.   Cover Me
  10.   Nyam Gravel
  11.   Tickerated by Japanese
  12.   Dem Get Mi Mad by Johnny 'P'
  13.   Mad Again
  14.   Reptile
  15.   Coming Hot
  16.   Things a Gawn
  17.   Test the High Power
  18.   Amour by Tinga Stewart
  19.   One Love Sound
  20.   Me a Go Ride
  21.   Things a Gwan
  22.   Dirt Heart
  23.   Swear by Johnny 'P'
  24.   Tiger No Dead
  25.   Bad Man
  26.   Woman Get Set
  27.   Jungle Move
  28.   My Weapon
  29.   Pon Mi Mind
  30.   Full Moon
  31.   Hooligan
  32.   Old Picture Frame
  33.   Peeping Tom
  34.   Mi Belly Move
  35.   Target Practice
  36.   Grandparents
  37.   Cold as Ice
  38.   Vex
  39.   Mother
  40.   Don Ina Town
  41.   Nice And Slow
  42.   Walk That Road
  43.   Two White Rat
  44.   Whey Dem a Do
  45.   Tell Dem
  46.   End of Flourgon Life
  47.   Battle With This
  48.   Marksman
  49.   Sweet Jamaica
  50.   Mi Lion
  51.   Free Paper Bun
  52.   The Race
  53.   Underground
  54.   Ten Commandments of Woman
  55.   Lovers
  56.   Vintage Memories
  57.   Lou Lou
  58.   Bwoy Go Sit Down
  59.   Woman of Samaria
  60.   War Zone
  61.   Hollow Point Bad Boy
  62.   Reggae Sunsplash
  63.   Gangster Love
  64.   Jah Is Real
  65.   Easywalk Round
  66.   Take Back Yu Chat
  67.   Two Roads Before You
  68.   Zig It Up by Flourgon
  69.   Book Fi Mi
  70.   Like a We
  71.   Count the Gun Them
  72.   Petty
  73.   Dark
  74.   A Nuh You, A Nuh Me
  75.   Dawg Nyam Yuh Supper
  76.   Water Come a Mi Eye
  77.   Badman Law
  78.   Rascal Rum
  79.   These Words
  80.   Mad Dem Bad
  81.   Youth of Today by Johnny 'P'
  82.   Gun & Ammunition
  83.   Virtuous Woman
  84.   Gun Fi Bun
  85.   Nuh Badda Trust Dem
  86.   Leff Him
  87.   How Master God World A Run
  88.   Go Put It Down
  89.   Funeral Again
  90.   Five Donkey Mile
  91.   Education '94
  92.   Bingo Game
  93.   Hold Me
  94.   Clean Hands (Pure in Heart)
  95.   Like a Virgin
  96.   Back in Town
  97.   The Return (Father and Son) by Ninja Ford
  98.   Plant Seed
  99.   Ninja Mi Ninja
  100.   Donnette
  101.   Take Time to Know Her
  102.   Intro: Live
  103.   Revelation Time
  104.   Badman Borderline
  105.   Step Down Pon Crime
  106.   Legalize the Herb
  107.   New Throat Fi Chat
  108.   Badness Teacher
  109.   Queen Majestic
  110.   Bible Fulfilment
  111.   Melon Man
  112.   Out a Reason
  113.   Transalation
  114.   Acid
  115.   No Apology
  116.   Pick It Up
  117.   Life Is Easy
  118.   Hardcore Killing
  119.   Spelling Bogle
  120.   Fire Burning
  121.   See de Man
  122.   Write Your Will
  123.   Bad Publicity
  124.   World Dance
  125.   Love Rushing
  126.   Bring in the Gun
  127.   Consideration
  128.   Mississippi by Greensleeves
  129.   Education
  130.   Ninja
  131.   Tings Get Worse
  132.   Ting a Ling a Ling a School Pickney Sing Ting
  133.   Bad Boy Nuh Cub Scout by Bounty Killer
  134.   My God Is Real
  135.   Reality You Want
  136.   Exportation
  137.   Me Naah Move
  138.   Powder Puff
  139.   Never Find Another
  140.   True Love
  141.   A So Mi Tan
  142.   Get Out a Here
  143.   Cut It Out
  144.   Make Him Tan
  145.   Legalise the Herb
  146.   Murder Dem
  147.   Nobody's Business
  148.   Saddle & Whip
  149.   Garments
  150.   Married to Mi Gun
  151.   Which Gun Bag
  152.   Pose Up
  153.   Check Out
  154.   Come Out of the Church
  155.   Gun Bogle
  156.   Put It Down
  157.   Return