Britain has an almost equally long reggae history as Jamaica. In the 60’s the artists had names such as Dandy and Laurel Aitken. Since then, the scene has changed and given way to new genres dubstep and grime. But one that keeps the reggae Union Jack high is upcoming star Gappy Ranks, from Harlesden in London.
When I get hold of Gappy Ranks on the telephone he has just finished an interview on national radio. He’s happy and excited. Probably no surprise. His debut album Put the Stereo On hits the streets soon on legendary label Greensleeves and there is much to do, concerts and interviews on each other. Soon he will perform at festivals such as Glastonbury and Rototom Sunsplash.
Gappy Ranks was raised in London by a Jamaican father and a Dominican mother. He says that it was tough growing up, but that he has learned about several different cultures. The debut album is in part about his childhood. More precisely it’s about the togetherness created in front of the turntable at home.
The cover of Put the Stereo On is designed by legendary Greensleeves designer Tony McDermott
− When I was a child and my parents put a record on it was always about togetherness and that is what I want to say with the album and its title, says Gappy Ranks in a blend of patois and British English.
Homage to the past
Put the Stereo On is mainly produced by Peckings, whose trademark is the use of old rock steady and reggae rhythms. The album echoes of the 60’s and early 70’s, without sounding outdated. Bitty McLean’s classic album On Bond Street, also produced by Peckings, showed that it’s an excellent recipe.
− The record shows where I’m from. I want to pay homage to Studio One and the past. It’s easier to understand music if you know the past, he says, and adds:
− I love all type of music and embrace every genre. Music is about creating, learning and trying new stuff.
Choosing favourite rhythms on the album is hard for him. But if he has to choose it’d be one originally recorded by Bob Marley and one which makes him enjoy himself.
− I really like Heaven in Her Eyes on Peckings Rebel riddim and Put the Stereo On, which is on the Hot Milk riddim. Every time I hear those trumpets I enjoy myself.
Put the Stereo On is significantly different from his mainly dancehall sounding EP Rising Out of the Ghetto, released this spring. When I ask him why he returns to the love of music.
− I’m just a music lover and hard to categorize. My singing is inspired by Sanchez and Wayne Wonder, but also Beenie Man. I’m a global person and I’m making music for the world.