R.I.P: Sluggy Ranks, 1968-2012

Words by Jesse Serwer—

From Kingston comes the sad news that iconic ’90s dancehall deejay Sluggy Ranks died in a car accident yesterday. Sluggy, for those that don’t know the name, was part of the initial wave of deejays who bussed from out of Brooklyn in the 1980s, voicing tunes for New York labels like Whitty, Super Power and Park Heights.

I won’t front like I know too many things about Sluggy Ranks but I can certainly vouch for of the impact of what was probably his best known tune in the States, “95% Black,” which got a lot of play on mixshows in New York City back in the early ’90s. When you’re a kid like I was, you don’t think about things like the prison-industrial complex really, so hearing a song like “95% Black,” with its lyrics about the racial imbalance between blacks and whites in the U.S. prison system, was definitely an eye-opener. Even if you can’t remember that far back, this is one of those culture tunes that still gets played when DJs run through ’90s sets. Revisit it below, and rest in peace, Sluggy Ranks.

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