Junie Ranks still giving

Observer senior writer

Friday, June 15, 2018

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Considered by many the decade that linked dancehall to hip hop, the 1980s produced a number of trailblazing artistes, though many of them did not live long enough to reap the financial rewards. Junie Ranks, one of the female deejays who emerged during that period, is among the survivors.

Now living in Philadelphia, she got back in the game in 2011 at the urging of singer/producer Ed Robinson. He is the man behind Give You My Loving, her latest song, which is a hit in New York City and ssouth Florida.

After a frustrating time when she gave up the music business to work in the health sector, Junie Ranks (June Evans) has enjoyed measured success in recent years. But it was more than love for the game that influenced her comeback.

“Ed Robinson come to me an' sey, 'Ranks, mi cyaan believe sey yuh gi up.' Dat was a time when a lotta foundation artiste come back inna di business,” she recalled. “It really important fi di foundation people dem fi still out dey, especially di female deejays, 'cause wi still haffi blaze di torch.”

Give You My Loving was released in April by Robinson's E2 Recordings and has enjoyed strong mileage on reggae radio in the Big Apple and south Florida. Robinson also produced Bring Back Di Love, the song that marked Junie Ranks's return to recording seven years ago.

That track was a shout-out to several of Junie Ranks's contemporaries including Sister Nancy and Michael Prophet. The former has enjoyed a remarkable comeback through sampling, especially the use of her 1984 song Bam Bam by rappers and brands like Reebok.

Bam Bam was produced by Winston Riley on the famed Stalag rhythm. Riley did similar duties on Counteraction, Junie Ranks's first song, also on the Stalag.

“Nancy deserve all di success shi have now. Shi nuh stop tour. Me an' har talk every day; is someone who mi always admire,” she said.

Born in Kingston and raised in Old Harbour, Junie Ranks cut a number of risqué songs for Riley and Lloyd “King Jammys” James during the 1980s and 1990s.

She has no regrets about her bawdy past.

“I wouldn't call it slackness; it was more parables — decent, not-fit-for-airplay music,” she joked.

Other 1980s dancehall acts have benefited from sampling or remixes by hot producers such as Major Lazer. They include Johnny Osbourne, Sugar Minott and Barrington Levy.

Junie Ranks is in her early 50s and a grandmother. For Draw Mi Out, her next song produced by Robinson, she returns to her roots.

“It on the Stalag. Dey so mi start, so it only wise mi bring it back,” she said.

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