Will Hermes
September 05, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Zion High

Current Status
In Season
Ranking Joe
Blood and Fire

We gave it a B+

Why write about Blood and Fire reggae reissues when virtually every one is killer? Because Ranking Joe deserves a shout-out as one of the great unsung MCs of the late-’70s/early-’80s Jamaican dancehall scene. Never much for porn raps or gun talk, he took the gibberish of U-Roy and sped it up into his trademark ”bong diddley” flavor, a bubbling scat-style flow delivered over roots classics by Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, and Black Uhuru. That acts from Musical Youth to Eek-A-Mouse would bite his style and blow it up is just one of countless injustices in the history of Jamaican music. REGGAE HIP-HOP HISTORY Nice Up the Dance (Soul Jazz) connects the dots between Tenor Saw, J-Live, Shaggy, and a clutch of other dancehall-literate crossovers.

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