04/08/2019: “Pirates Anthem” by Shabba Ranks & Cocoa Tea & Home T

The late 80s and early 90s was a golden time for the ragga style of dancehall, in my humble opinion. Not only were some of the genres most accomplished deejays at large, such as the one and only Shabba Ranks, but the riddims were imbued with a lot of reggae spirit.

This one is about the pirate radio stations common in English cities in the 1990s, and the nefarious attempts of the authorities to suppress them. In many cases, pirate radio gave an outlet to many non-mainstream genres, artists, and DJs, giving some of England’s most marginalised communities a voice.

The riddim on this one exhibits many of the classic features of its period, including a smooth, round bassline, frantic electronic string hits, plus a winning combo of singing and toasting.

Cocoa Tea leads the singing, whereas Shabba Ranks’ unmistakable deep tones ring out over the rest. Home T are the group providing vocals for the chorus.

“Pirates Anthem” was released in 1988, and was the first song played by the formerly illegal Kiss FM radio station when it got licensed!

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