Throwback Thursdays: Rankin’ Taxi “It Has No Smell”

Words by Selector JD and Eddie STATS Houghton

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This Sunday June 5th, Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley and a host of reggae greats from Freddie McGregor to Tanya Stephens will join Mighty Crown Soundsystem and Irish & Chin in supporting the disaster-relief efforts in Japan with the Reggae 4 Japan stageshow at York College Auditorium in Queens, New York. In recognition of this historic event–and the crucial fundraising effort–we decided to dedicate this week’s Throwback Thursdays to the much-overlooked Japanese reggae scene. We knew the only selectors who could do the concept justice would be our cohorts at Deadly Dragon Soundsystem, who happen to be the deepest 45 kings and most serious Japan-o-philes we know (and trust, we know a few of both). But even we were not prepared for what DDS’ own Selector JD came back with…a foundational Japanese reggae tune chanting down nuclear Babylon–complete with a 2011 redub to raise awareness of the current crisis! Buy tickets for the concert here or if you can’t be there in person, find out how to support by copping a “Reggae 4 Japan” tee here. And then read on to have your mind blown by the visionary deejay styles of Rankin Taxi.

One glance at the resume of Rankin Taxi AKA Rankin San is enough to recognize that he is one of the forefathers of the J-reggae (Japanese reggae) scene inna Japan. Born in Yokohama in 1953, he first travelled to Jamaica in 1983 and by 1984 had begun deejaying and selecting at some clubs in Yokohama.  In 1985 he was the guest MC for Reggae Sunsplash in Japan.  In 1986 he started Taxi Hi-Fi and began playing sound in public parks and clubs throughout Japan. In 1987, 1988 and 1989 he performed at Reggae Sunsplash in Jamaica.

His first full-length release, entitled Kaji Daa was released in 1989 and on it was a tune entitled “誰にも見えない、匂いもない” or “Dare Ni Mo Mienai, Nioi Mo Nai,” meaning: “No One Can See It, It Has No Smell” (in reference to atomic radiation).

Built around the refrain: The radioactivity is not visible / Moreover, it doesn’t have the smell / The radioactivity is strong and great / The radioactivity falls from the sky without discriminating to any person / And, no one can destroy it, the tune is a prophetic warning about the potential affects of nuclear power on the world. Due to the recent catastrophes in Japan caused by the Tohoku earthquake & tsunami, Fadda Taxi revisited his classic tune with an updated 2011 version and appropriately apocalyptic video:

You can find the original on his debut CD 火事だぁ (there was a 7″ box set that came out a few months before the disc) and while you’re tracking that down, enjoy this live version from 1991 with backing band the Tropical Kings: