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Ninjaman

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
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: A Ninja

1. A Ninja

x

Track List: Like A We (Single)

1. Like A We

x

Track List: Last Night (Single)

1. Last Night

x

Track List: A Ninja (raw)

x

Track List: Sunsplash

1. Run The Country

2. Sell Out The Gun

3. Reggae Sunsplash

4. Don Gorgan Born Again

5. Gimme Pass

6. Queen Majestic

7. Badness Teacher

8. New Throat Fi Chat

9. Jah Is Real

10. Drink And Drive

x

Track List: Don Sound (Remix) (Single)

1. Don Sound (Feat. Dougie Conscious) (Remix)

x

Track List: Reggae Anthology: Anything Test Dead

Disc 1

3. Cover Me (Feat. Tinga Stewart)

4. Nice Up The Lawn

5. More Reality

6. Peeping Tom

7. Laugh & Grin (Mad Ninja)

8. Border Clash

9. Wrenking Meat

10. Pedal An' Wheel

12. Don

13. Donnette

14. Murder Dem

Disc 2

1. My Weapon

3. Excuse Me

4. Mandella Come

6. Legalize The Herb

7. Counteraction

8. Test The High Power

9. Things A Gwan

13. Permit To Bury

14. Bible Fulfilment

x

Track List: A Ninja (Single)

1. A Ninja

x

Track List: Monsters Of Dancehall

1. Border Clash

2. Write Your Will

3. The Return-Father & Son (Feat. Ninja Ford)

4. Bad Boy Nuh Cub Scout (Feat. Bounty Killer)

5. Hollow Point Bad Boy

6. Hold Me

7. John Law (Feat. Gregory Isaacs & Freddie Mcgregor)

8. Bring In The Gun

9. Two White Rat

10. World Dance

11. Gun Bogle

12. Disarm Them

13. Ting A Ling A Ling A School Pickney Sing Ting

14. Woman Get Set

15. Clean Hands (Pure In Heart) (Feat. Capleton)

16. Come Out Of The Church

17. Bad Publicity

18. Mississippi (I Can See Arkansas)

x

Track List: Bad Grand Dad

1. Left Him

2. Bad Grand Dad

3. The Race

4. Woman Of Samaria

5. Return (Feat. Ninja Ford)

6. Disarm Them

7. Put It Down

8. The World

9. Gun Bogle

10. Mate

11. Mother

12. Come Out Of The Church

x

Track List: Big Showdown: Ninjaman & Johnny P

1. No Hard Drugs

2. Me Ah Don

3. Easy Walk Round

4. Put On Your Covenant

x

Track List: My Weapon

1. Powder No Man

2. Take Back Yu Chat

3. Don Badman

4. My Weapon

5. More Than You Bargain For

6. 14 More Come

7. Step Down Pon Crime

8. New Gun Fe Bus

9. DJ Fe The Year

x

Track List: Target Practice

1. Shot A Talk

2. Target Practice

3. Me Naah Move

4. From Me Hold Him

5. Counteraction

6. Exportation

7. Reality You Want

8. My God Is Real

9. Bring Them All

10. Dirty Life

x

Track List: Out Pon Bail

1. Battle With This

2. Cut It Out

3. Don Ina Town

4. Tun Johnkuno

5. Get Out A Here

6. A So Mi Tan

7. Winding Out

8. True Love

9. Never Find Another

10. Power Puff

x

Track List: Bounty Hunter

1. Last Of The Warning

2. Cowboy Town

3. Set Me Free (Feat. Gregory Isaacs)

4. Number One

5. Permit To Bury

6. Things A Gwan

7. Dis De Don

8. Count The Gun Dem

9. Serious Time (Feat. Admiral Tibet)

10. Sound Death

x

Track List: Artical Don

1. Artical Don

2. Marksman

3. Pick It Up

4. Power Puff

5. The Prayer

6. No Apology

7. Acid

8. Transalation

9. Longest Time

10. Hardcore Loving

11. New Style

12. Full Moon

x

Track List: Reggae Anthology: Ninjaman: Anything Test Dead

Disc 1

4. Nice Up The Lawn

5. More Reality

6. Peeping Tom

7. Laugh & Grin (Mad Ninja)

8. Border Clash

9. Wrenking Meat

10. Pedal An' Wheel

12. Don

13. Donnette

14. Murder Dem

Disc 2

3. Excuse Me

4. Mandella Come

6. Legalize The Herb

7. Counteraction

8. Test The High Power

9. Things A Gwan

11. Cowboy Town

12. Time Is Serious

13. Permit To Bury

14. Bible Fulfilment

x

Track List: Hardcore Killing

1. Bwoy Go Sit Down

2. See De Man

3. Fire Burning (Feat. Junior Reid)

4. Throw Mi Corn

5. Spelling Bogle

6. Bob Marley Way

7. Jah Is Real

8. Hardcore Killing

9. Gimme De Cross

10. Tell Dem

11. Life Is Easy

12. Battle Fe Win

x

Track List: Booyakka! Booyakka!

1. Disarm Them

2. Go Put It Down

3. This Girl Is Mine (feat. Cocoa Tea)

4. Lighter

5. Education '94

6. Gun Fi Bun (feat. Ninja Ford)

7. How Master God World A Run

8. Mi Easy

9. Leff Him

10. Reality, Pt. 2

11. Pon Mi Mind (feat. Nazzy)

12. Woman A "U" Ways

13. Matie (feat. Sandy Star)

14. Sweeter Days (feat. Lorraine)

x

Track List: Original Front Tooth Gold Tooth Don Gorgon

1. The Return - Father & Son

2. Put It Down

3. Bad Grandad

4. Gun Bogle

5. The Race

6. Two White Rat

7. Mother

8. Like A Virgin

9. The World

10. Woman Of Samaria

11. Come Out Of The Church

12. Woman Get Set

Comments

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Ninja a the best dance hall style ever
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marlon.a.rob i n s o n
Ninja! The phenomenal one. Or in his own words, "pinominol one, oonu listen to di don..."
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Love you ninja man...was my DJ back then n still...
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ninjamon
Report as inappropriate
Cool
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repair42627
love
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1051smoov
Ninja man bad man fi di sound
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@M1st3rM1g00 GO SE IF HE A NINJA AND GET YO A** WHOOPED!!!!!
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u guys r not a ninja i bet u dont even have ninja stars or kataanas u should CHANGE UR NAME u %$$#@#%$
Report as inappropriate
I have seen Buju, Ninjaman, Jigsy King, Marcia, Beres, Gregory, D. Brown, Sugar Minot, just to mention a few,(bwoy di name too nuff, mi can't mention all), Admiral Bailey,Terro r , D a d d y Screw, hold-u corners) in Yokusuka, Japan. Jamaica have some great artists. Jamaica Rule di world in Reggae and music creativity. Out of di suffering and poverty, comes a creativity that surpasses the ability of the average human being. Jamaicans stand alone in a place, which is the envy of the world.

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