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Ninja Man
Ninja Man—–

By Mel Cooke—-

Although Desmond ‘Ninja Man’ Ballentine officially handed over his Sting clash title to KipRich at the Boxing Day concert’s 2012 staging, he retained the belt as the overall champion. His clashes have been well chronicled, but Ninja Man has his own perspective on the deejay wars that went a long way to making him the enduring Don Gorgon of dancehall.

Here we bring to you part 2 of 2, from our talk with Ninja Man about ‘The three greatest clashes of all time’.


Kilamanjaro vs Silverhawk, Skateland, 1988:

The famous clash between Kilamanjaro and Silverhawk at Skateland, Half-Way Tree, in 1988 played a major role in establishing Ninja Man as a man for the clash. As he put it, “You see da clash deh now, da clash deh a de clash now make dem say Ninja Man kill every sound. Anything test dead”.

That had a lot to do with Silverhawk’s fearsome reputation, armed as it was with an arsenal of specials done by top-notch artists. After all, it was run by ace production duo Steelie and Cleevie. Ninja Man said, “Me did a kill off everything on Jaro, but them feel like Silverhawk was untouchable. Because true Silverhawk work wid Papa Jammy, an him play riddim fi all artist, so everybody a seh Silverhawk nah go can dead”.

However, he had a plan inspired by television. “Dat time, there was a cartoon on TV name Silverhawk, wid a bredda name He-Man. An we go do a entry pon a dub whe seh ‘if you are Silverhawk, I am He-Man’. An the whole place mash up. An when di ting start an mi seh ‘eh-eh, nah take no talk from you, yu nuh Silverhawk’,” Ninja Man said.

There was also the small matter of vengeance, dancehall style. Ninja Man spoke about Silverhawk winning a clash with Soul Imperial, which he was deejaying on, in Standpipe, “only because a inna him community”. Then, he said, he was a young artist and, after he had left the dance on his bicycle Steelie followed him and asked where he could be located. Ninja Man gave him the wrong address.

About a year later, Steelie saw him at Jammy’s studio and Ninja Man started doing some recordings there.

Ninja Man carried the grievance for Silverhawk until “mi write dem off a Skateland”, the infamous Bad Word Special delivering the killing blow. That track was first done for a sound system in Cockburn Pen named Angel, in preparation for a clash with Sherriff.

When it was played, Ninja Man said, “di whole dance shoot up. gunshot like rice grain. When mi see whe it duh, mi voice it fi Jaro right away. An when Jaro use it an mash up Silverhawk, dem form line fi it a Jammys … . All now people want it”.

Shabba Ranks

Shabba Ranks

Ninja Man vs Shabba Ranks, 1991

Ninja Man decimated Shabba Ranks, then riding high in the R&B and hip-hop world, but even now he is not happy with it.

“Mi like da clash deh cause a my best friend dat. A boots some man boots up a ting outa proportion because me an Shabba no fi deh pon no stage inna no clashing, cause a me an Shabba a come from thick and thin. A me go hustle money an put out three song (his own Protectionwith Courtney Melody, Shabba’s Holla Fi Buddy and Junior Cat’sAnoreaxal Body) as three likkle yute a walk up an dung, we a eat ackee an dumpling together. Shabba have fi him likkle crew a bawl forward fi him, me have my likkle crew, when we buck a dance wid cut-off-foot pants and Desert Clark’s, a me an Shabba,” Ninja Man said.

Ninja Man said for that clash it was the first time he walked into the National Stadium to do Sting, instead of driving, “de way how me ben. Mi no like it an all now mi no feel like da clash deh shoulda gwaan. Cause me an Shabba a real fren an it no look good fi fren waan tear dung fren”.

However, when the clash was on Ninja went into it full force. “At that point in time me did haffi make a decision, is me or Shabba”.

So, although it is widely touted as a slaughtering of Shabba, Ninja Man still maintains that “none a we no get defeat. Yu no see me artiste go gi me two Grammy”. And, on the night, he said that it was not a real competition, as Shabba is not a clash artist. “Da clash deh come een like a competition jus’ fi odda people make money,” Ninja said.

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