Ting a Ling a Ling a School Pickney Sing Ting

by: Ninjaman

Beyond Ninjaman's incredibly original and distinctive toasting style, sheer excitement in its own right, his splatter-shot thematic approach was just about irresistible -- from single to single, one never knew what topic the DJ would tackle next. The effect on full-length records was nigh on overwhelming. Released in 1992, Ting a Ling a Ling a School Pickney Sing Ting paired the DJ at his breakout heights with the formidable Junior Reid, whose ferocious riddims and incendiary production style sent Ninjaman stuttering to a whole new level. Needless to say, classes with the DJ were far removed from the usual grind, as Ninjaman makes clear on the title track, a biting attack on the Jamaican school system structured around spelling lessons. The course continues on "Education," where spelling is just the start for his kiddie rhyme games. But school isn't merely teaching children the three Rs, and on "Consideration," Ninja provides serious study in proper living, while "Attention" is an eloquent essay on reaching out to those in need around you. "Bring in the Gun" contains lessons as well, across a quite brilliant riddim. Incorporating lyrics from Elvis Presley's "In the Ghetto," Ninja's exposition on "gun is life, gun is death" contrasts people's need to arm themselves for protection with the spiraling rise of gun crime and violence -- a situation that, on "Tings Get Worse," the DJ lays at the door of the ruling People's National Party, whose promises remain unfilled. The number references Prime Minister Michael Manley's illness: the cancer that would force his resignation and soon kill him. From politics to pathos, there's the haunting "Grandparents," and in an even stranger choice of covers, "Mississippi," where listeners find Jamaica's toughest delivering a country love song. Further romantic adventures are found on "Lovers" and "Love Rushing," the latter the more boastful of the two. From the surely exaggerated exploits of "Ninja" to the so-pleased-to-be-back-home "Motorcade," this is one wild ride. Reid's riddims are unimpeachable, and Ninja is in top form -- a lethal dancehall combination. ~ Jo-Ann Greene

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