Shabba Ranks – Poll Tax Freestyle 14 December 1990

December 1990 saw Reggae superstar Shabba [Rexton Rawlston Fernando Gordon] Ranks pay a visit to London while on promotional duties. One of the duties was an in-store signing session at Tower Records prestigous flagship store in Piccadilly Circus, an area of Central London full of tourists, and minutes away from the germination point of the poll tax riots from earlier that same year. The police may have been on high alert for further disturbances throughout the year, but you can bet no one at police HQ was expecting a riot because of Reggae.

By knocking up an ad for The Evening Standard [arguably the most read newspaper in London then and now], and with unauthorised use of a Tower Records logo, an exec who was attempting to sell ad space inadvertently created what would later be noted as a riot. FYI. It wasnt a riot, it was more of an en masse ‘grab all you can’ type Supermarket Sweep give-away.

Rap radio pioneer Tim Westwood invited Shabba into the studio for his weekly Friday night broadcast, they engaged in a long ass interview, Shabba then proceeded to drop some ‘pure pure lyrics’ on this classic Capital Rap Show freestyle. In this curio of a clip, Mr Ranks shows his support for the ‘poorer class’ of England in reference to the poll tax, suggesting they ‘resist from payin it’, adding how he felt that poor people were just ‘people that cannot really handle their financials’.

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