Desmond John Ballentine (born January 24, 1966), better known as Ninjaman, and sometimes as Don Gorgon is a popular Jamaican dancehall deejay and actor, known for his controversial and pro-gun lyrics and his stuttering and melodramatic style. In 2017, he received a life sentence for murder.
Born in Annotto Bay, Jamaica, Ballentine moved to Kingston at the age of 12. He launched his deejay career with the Black Culture Sound System at age 14 as “Double Ugly”. In 1980, he joined the Killamanjaro sound system, where he got the chance to learn from established deejays Super Cat and Early B, and released his debut single as “Uglyman”. Yet another name change made him the now, well-known Ninjaman. In 1987, Ninjaman recorded – and produced himself – his first hit single “Protection”, a duet with Courtney Melody. The following years brought many prolific collaborations with producers like King Jammy, Lloyd “Pickout” Dennis, Witty, Xterminator, Philip “Fatis” Burrell, Redman, Ini Kamoze, Bobby Digital, Augustus “Gussie” Clarke, and Steely & Clevie and Henry “Junjo” Lawes. It has been said that Ninjaman comes up with all of his lyrics on the spot in the recording studio, in a freestyle manner.
His hits over the years 1989-1992, like “Murder Dem”, “Permit to Bury” and “Above the Law” reinforced Ninjaman’s image of a violent rude boy. One of his most infamous rivalries (besides the ongoing quarrels with Flourgon and Super Cat) was the one with Shabba Ranks, leading to a number of clashes.
In 1993, criticism of Ninjaman’s violent and pro-gun lyrics arose, leading to a decline in performing gigs and chances to record.
By 1997, Ninjaman had changed his name once again, now performing gospel reggae songs as “Brother Desmond”. He sought help to fight his crack cocaine addiction and born again Christianity.
In March 2009, Ninjaman, along with his son Janiel, was arrested and charged in connection with a murder of Ricardo Johnson on Marl Road, Kingston, Jamaica. He was granted bail for the sum of JD$2,000,000 in March 2012, and was scheduled to appear in court 15 July 2012. At least 58 jurors were needed for the start of the trial but only 15 showed up. The trial was rescheduled to start in April 2015, but was again postponed and rescheduled to start in January 2016.
In 2015 he parted ways with Downsound Records and opened his own Picture Frame Studio on Blackwood Terrace in Kingston.
On November 20, 2017, Ninjaman and his co-accused were found guilty of the 2009 murder of Ricardo Johnson. On December 18, 2017, Ballentine was sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole after 25 years.
Super Cat (born William Anthony Maragh in Kingston, Jamaica, 25 June 1963) is a Jamaican deejay who achieved widespread popularity during the late 1980s and early 1990s dancehall movement. His nickname, “Wild Apache”, was given to him by his mentor Early B. He is the elder brother of reggae artist Junior Cat and is considered one of the greatest deejays within the Jamaican dance-hall scene to date.
Born a Dougla, to an Afro-Jamaican mother and Indo-Jamaican father, Super Cat was raised in Kingston’s tough Seivright Gardens neighbourhood, then known as Cockburn Pen, home to ground-breaking deejays like Prince Jazzbo and U-Roy. At the age of seven the Soul Imperial sound system allowed him to assist them at a local club called Bamboo Lawn. He auditioned for Joe Gibbs as a singer but was unsuccessful.
He began appearing as a deejay under the name Cat-A-Rock, but soon switched to the name Super Cat. He also appeared as ‘Wild Apache’. His first single “Mr. Walker”, produced by Winston Riley, was released in 1981 and established his recording career. He went on to record for Jah Thomas (“Walkathon”, on which he was billed as ‘Super Cat the Indian’), but his career was interrupted by a period of incarceration. After his release he began working with Early B on the Killamanjaro sound system in 1984, and his debut album, Si Boops Deh!, was released in the mid-1980s, and included the hit singles “Boops” (which was based on Steely & Clevie’s updated “Feel Like Jumping” rhythm and sparked a craze for songs about sugar daddies), and “Cry Fi De Youth”, establishing his style of dancehall with conscious lyrics.
He started his own Wild Apache Productions label and began producing his own recordings, including the 1988 album Sweets for My Sweet. He featured on the album Cabin Stabbin in 1991 along with Nicodemus and Junior Demus. He had been scheduled to perform at the One Love concert in the UK in 1991, but his appearance was cancelled after the shooting death of Nitty Gritty, for which Super Cat was initially suspected but cleared in 1992. Continuing success saw him move to the United States and sign a contract with Columbia Records, releasing one of the first dancehall albums on a major label, Don Dada (1992). The following year, Sony Music issued The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, and the Crazy, teaming Super Cat with Nicodemus, Junior Demus and Junior Cat.
Super Cat had a number of hit singles in the early 1990s, including “Don Dada”, “Ghetto Red Hot” and “Dem No Worry We” with Heavy D. In 1992, he was featured on the remix of “Jump” with Kris Kross, and he also collaborated with them in 1993 for their song “Alright”. These hits made him The Source magazine dance hall artist of the year in 1993. He was also an early collaborator with The Notorious B.I.G., featuring the then unknown artist (along with Mary J. Blige, 3rd Eye and Puff Daddy) on the B-side remix of “Dolly My Baby” in 1993. The title song, “Don Dada” was a reply to many jabs made by Ninjaman.
His version of Fats Domino’s “My Girl Josephine”, performed with Jack Radics, was included in the soundtrack to the film Prêt-à-Porter in 1994. In 1997 he was featured on the number one hit “Fly” by Sugar Ray from their platinum album Floored. He collaborated with India.Arie on her hit song “Video” in 2001, and with Jadakiss and The Neptunes on “The Don of Dons” in 2003. Also in 2003, he collaborated with 112 for their song “Na Na Na Na”. Following the death of his longtime road manager Fred ‘The Thunder’ Donner in 2004, Super Cat released a multi-cd tribute album entitled Reggaematic Diamond All-Stars that featured contributions from Yami Bolo, Michael Prophet, Linval Thompson, Nadine Sutherland and Sizzla among others.
Super Cat reappeared on the national reggae scene in 2009 for a show at Madison Square Garden with Buju Banton and Barrington Levy. He also headlined the ‘Best of the Best’ concert in Miami in 2008, with Assassin, Etana, Barrington Levy, Buju Banton, Junior Reid, Tony Matterhorn, Sizzla and Beenie Man.
In 2012, his song “Dance Inna New York” was sampled for Nas’ single “The Don”, from the rapper’s album Life Is Good, with Cat adding vocals to the hook.
Super Cat made a surprise appearance at Massive B’s on Da Reggae Tip concert in September 2013 during the set of Shaggy. That same week, a mix of his work previously recorded during his time with The Neptunes label was released to the internet. In May 2014 he headlined the Reggae on the Bay festival in Trinidad.
Cecil Wellington (1957–1996), better known as Nicodemus, was a Jamaican reggae deejay who released a string of albums in the 1980s and 1990s. Nicodemus was a pioneer of dancehall music and is credited with positively influencing many aspiring DJs. He is truly a dancehall legend. Partnering with the iconic Super Cat since the late-1970s, the dynamic duo (Nicodemus & Super Cat) released a string of local and commercially successful reggae hits. Hit songs that spring to mind are “Cabin Stabbin'” and “My Prerogative. ” Nicodemus died on August 26, 1996 of complications with diabetes.
Born in Jamaica in 1957, he began his career in 1976 as a deejay with the Socialist Roots sound system. He moved to Prince Jammy’s sound system in 1978 and towards the end of the decade also made his first studio recordings. His style was compared to Prince Far I and Prince Jazzbo. He had a big hit with “Boneman Connection” in 1981, and remained popular throughout the first half of the 1980s, becoming regarded as a dancehall veteran. His influence was clear on younger deejays such as John Taylor, aka Nicodemus Junior, who later had greater success after changing his stage name to Chaka Demus. After a lean period between the mid 1980s and the early 1990s, when his releases were less frequent, he re-emerged in 1994 with the album The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, and the Crazy, which was followed by Dancehall Giant in 1995, for which he embarked on a 7 week tour of the western United States alongside artists from the San Francisco based Positive Sound Massive label (including Major Terror, Grandson Demus, and Stand Out Selector), and backed by the Chico CA based dancehall outfit Cornerstone Featuring Levi Jr. In 1996, he died from complications related to diabetes, aged 39, with a posthumous album, Dancehall Greats, issued two years later.
Chaka Demus & Pliers
Chaka Demus & Pliers[needs IPA] are a Jamaican reggae duo made up of deejay Chaka Demus (born John Taylor) and singer Pliers (born Everton Bonner), known for their hits “Tease Me” and “Murder She Wrote”. As a duo, they enjoyed more commercial success with mainstream pop fans after their collaboration began in the early 1990s than either had in their previous solo careers.
Both artists were established musicians when they teamed up in 1991 after performing together in Miami, both having worked as solo artists, and Pliers as a duo with Pinchers. Their early hits together included “Gal Wine”, recorded for producer Ossie Hibbert. They went on to work with a string of producers, including Ranking Joe, Jah Screw, Prince Jammy, and Mafia & Fluxy, with several of their most successful single tracks included on their debut album Gal Wine (1992).
They appeared at Reggae Sunsplash in 1992, and the following year broke through to international success with “Tease Me”, which was in the UK Singles Chart for three months in 1993, peaking at No. 3 in July. They followed this with a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “She Don’t Let Nobody” and a cover (with collaboration of Jack Radics) of the Top Notes’ “Twist and Shout”, which topped the UK Singles Chart in early 1994, the duo becoming the first Jamaican act to top the chart in 8 years, and the first to have three consecutive top five hits on the chart. They had further UK hits with “I Wanna Be Your Man” (No. 19) and “Gal Wine” (No. 20), with six hit singles in all taken from their album, Tease Me. The re-release of Tease Me also charted at number one on the UK Albums Chart in 1994, going on to receive gold certification, selling more than 500,000 copies.
In 1996, they signed to Island Records and released the album For Every Kinda People.
They performed at Sunsplash again in 2004 and 2008, and released the album Help Them Lord in 2001.
In 2007, Chaka Demus & Pliers recorded “Need Your Lovin”, which was released on vinyl on Explorer Records. This song was a hit on the Jamaican chart.
On 18 November 2007, Chaka Demus & Pliers performed “Murder She Wrote” alongside Alicia Keys at the 2007 American Music Awards. In the summer of 2008, they performed at the annual Detroit Caribbean Festival. Their latest album So Proud was released on 6 October 2008.
In July 2013, Chaka Demus & Pliers performed at the BET Awards show in the reggae segment alongside Dawn Penn, Beenie Man and Elephant Man.