Top ranking in Clarendon
Pon Di Ends
BY CECELIA CAMPBELL-LIVINGSTON Observer staff reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
PATRONS at Debbie's Sports Bar in Clarendon are likely to bump into deejay Cutty Ranks hanging out with friends.
Cutty Ranks, who is known for hits such as A Who Sey Mi Done, Retreat, The Stopper and Six Million Ways, is a regular at the popular spot. He was not born in Clarendon but grew up there and it was where his career took off.
Pon Di Ends hung out this week with the 49-year-old at his favourite 'corners'. His friends were more than happy to talk him.
Everton Mundle (aka Iga) has known Cutty Ranks for over 30 years.
"He is lyrically real. Yeah man, mi rating fi him high," Iga told the Splash team as he knocked fists with the deejay.
Cutty Ranks (real name Phillip Thomas) was born in St Mary, but moved to Clarendon at an early age. He remembers Guinep Tree, Jack Monday, Race Track and Coney Island among his favourite haunts. He was also a regular on the Sturmars sound system.
Another friend, Easton Pendley (aka Admiral) reminisced about his stint on the Kenneth 'Skeng Don' Black-owned 'soun'.
"Those were the days, he used to dominate the soun'. A dominant deejay this, him nuh talk no stupidness... a real soldier from Clarendon," said Admiral.
Between sipping his drink, songs from Ranks' new mixtape Last Man Standing, blared from the speakers.
"There are a few old songs, but most of them are 'collabs' with hip hop artistes," he said. Among those acts are American rappers 2 Chainz, Total Chaos and T-Round. For Cutty Ranks, it is all about keeping current.
"The reason I have incorporated these collabs is to cross over in that market so that I can take it to another level," he said.
Cutty Ranks pointed out that music trends are always changing and artistes have to adapt to stay relevant.
Among the tracks on Last Man Standing are Bad Little Youth and Stalking.
Clarendon has produced many outstanding artistes including Millie Small, Freddie McGregor, Cocoa Tea, Barrington Levy, Derrick Morgan, Everton Blender and Toots Hibbert.
Cutty Ranks started his career at age 11 on sound systems in Clarendon. He came to prominence in the late 1980s with gritty underground songs like Gunman Lyrics for producer Winston Riley.
In the early and mid-1990s, he made it into the mainstream with The Stopper and Fly the Gate as well as solid combinations with Beres Hammond, Wayne Wonder and Marcia Griffiths for Penthouse Records.
He also worked with a clutch of independent American labels and had a small role in the 1995 movie, Dancehall Queen.
Cutty Ranks says he is grooming the next generation of deejays to take over. One of his protégés is Marlon Dennis who goes by the moniker Bling Ras. According to Cutty Ranks, "He is talented and full of lyrics".
He says patience is critical to an artiste's success.
"Yuh have to endorse the youth dem, wi have lots more coming from the nursery but I don't want them to get ahead of themselves. They have to understand who set it around here."