Words by Jesse Serwer, Sherman Escoffery and Spliffington—
Ninjaman is dancehall music’s Edgar Allan Poe: dark, brilliant, curiously articulate… and possibly mad. Two weeks ago, the artist born Desmond Ballantine—but who we prefer to call Original Front Tooth Gold Tooth Gun Pon Tooth Don Gorgon—emerged from a three-year prison stint, out pon bail once again.
Even as questions about Ninja’s role in a homicide linger, the sound of his voice on the appropriately titled comeback tune “Don Gorgon Is Back” immediately took us back to another era when dancehall music was all about clashing and competition. And, oh yes, violence. Ninja is the embodiment of the dancehall outlaw. While he is the master of the double entendre in which “killing” refers to the defeat of a rival sound crew, and not actual homicide, the darkness that has pervaded his life imbues his gunman lyrics with an extra dose of reality. But let us separate the man from music (as any true appreciator of music should), and look back pon some of the works which turned the likkle stereo into No. 1.