Slacker Logo

Ninjaman

Advertisement
Advertisement

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
Read All Read Less

Top Tracks

  1.   Track
    Popularity
  2.   Nice Up the Lawn
  3.   Border Clash
  4.   Counteraction
  5.   Mad Again
  6.   Consideration
  7.   War Zone
  8.   Coming Hot
  9.   Underground
  10.   Gangster Love
  11.   Return
  12.   Reality, Pt. 2
  13.   Nice And Slow
  14.   No Apology
  15.   Gun Bogle
  16.   Last Night
  17.   Pick It Up
  18.   Bad Publicity
  19.   Mandela Come
  20.   Cover Me
  21.   Lyrics Basket by Japanese
  22.   Which Gun Bag
  23.   Target Practice
  24.   Youth of Today by Johnny 'P'
  25.   Motorcade
  26.   Wrenking Meat
  27.   Queen Majestic
  28.   Legalise the Herb
  29.   Preach It
  30.   The World
  31.   Last of the Warning
  32.   Dis DI Don
  33.   Transalation
  34.   Leff Him
  35.   Education
  36.   Swear by Johnny 'P'
  37.   Virtuous Woman
  38.   Revolutionary
  39.   Pon Mi Mind
  40.   Jah Is Real
  41.   Never Find Another
  42.   Tun Johnkuno
  43.   Laugh and Grin (Mad Ninja)
  44.   Life Is Easy
  45.   M-16
  46.   Nuh Badda Trust Dem
  47.   World Dance
  48.   Power Puff
  49.   Jamaica Town Instrumental
  50.   Ting a Ling a Ling a School Pickney Sing Ting
  51.   Mississippi by Greensleeves
  52.   Gun Fi Bun
  53.   Wrinkle And Screw
  54.   One Love Sound
  55.   Sweet Jamaica
  56.   Marksman
  57.   Count the Gun Dem
  58.   Mother
  59.   Mi a Go Ride
  60.   Amour by Tinga Stewart
  61.   Don Ina Town
  62.   Dirty Life
  63.   Bob Marley Way
  64.   The Return (Father and Son) by Ninja Ford
  65.   Zig It Up by Flourgon
  66.   Book Fi Mi
  67.   Like a We
  68.   Count the Gun Them
  69.   Dark
  70.   Nyam Gravel
  71.   Vex
  72.   Suppose (Survival Story)
  73.   Badman Law
  74.   Rascal Rum
  75.   Mad Dem Bad
  76.   Taste & Buy
  77.   Preps by Japanese
  78.   Dem Get Mi Mad by Johnny 'P'
  79.   Gun & Ammunition
  80.   Wap Dem Bubba
  81.   Ghetto Cry
  82.   Lighter
  83.   How Master God World A Run
  84.   Go Put It Down
  85.   Gimme de Cross
  86.   Education '94
  87.   Hold Me
  88.   Clean Hands (Pure in Heart)
  89.   Woman Get Set
  90.   Lick Out
  91.   Back in Town
  92.   Plant Seed
  93.   Ninja Mi Ninja
  94.   Time Is Serious
  95.   Donnette
  96.   Don
  97.   Intro: Live
  98.   Reptile
  99.   Mi Lion
  100.   Revelation Time
  101.   Badman Borderline
  102.   Hooligan
  103.   Bad Man
  104.   DJ Fe the Year
  105.   Step Down Pon Crime
  106.   14 More Come
  107.   More Than You Bargain For
  108.   Take Back Yu Chat
  109.   New Throat Fi Chat
  110.   Badness Teacher
  111.   Bible Fulfilment
  112.   Me Ah Don
  113.   End of Flourgon Life
  114.   Out a Reason
  115.   Longest Time
  116.   The Prayer
  117.   Jungle Move
  118.   Tell Dem
  119.   Hardcore Killing
  120.   Spelling Bogle
  121.   Fire Burning
  122.   See de Man