Gappy Ranks


official album art from Thanks and Praise by Gappy Ranks

Recalling Jamaican life in a London setting might at first seem a paradoxical task, but Gappy Ranks’ withstands the test of geography and time in his music, handling both the past and the present in a pretty and rhythmically hard-hitting way.

The man has been getting amazing press lately, and for good reason. His tunes are heartfelt and personal in a way that rises above a lot of the less musical, more club-friendly dancehall reggae that has been making a comeback in the UK over the last few years.

Gappy Ranks (aka Jacob Lee Williams), grew up in Harlesden, London and was raised by a Jamaican father and Dominican mother, who instilled a solid work ethic in their son that shows in Ranks’ prolific offerings today. In an interview with United Reggae in June, Ranks says that he voices around 1,500 rhythms per year while releasing only 60. In August, 2010 he released his first album Put The Stereo On, which shared with the world some experiences of growing up in Harlesden and in the heart of the UK reggae world. His workingman’s values as a musician shine through in his latest release, Thanks and Praise, which fully cements Gappy Ranks as a burgeoning force in the UK Reggae scene.

In the track “Heaven in Her Eyes” off Put the Stereo On, Ranks fuses traditional roots reggae with dancehall – as is his sound – but the chorus is like a gospel choir. The track’s theme of gratefulness, as his latest album Thanks and Praise suggests, informs Gappy Ranks’ style of both harkening back to his ancestors, parents, and the musicians who provided him with the reggae foundation, and moving forward with the stories he wants to tell in a revivalist manner.

His retro stylings have accompanied a wave of reinvigoration in the reggae and dancehall community in the UK, moving listeners back to Maxi Priest, Top Cat, and other artists from the 80s and 90s English reggae scene.

Thanks and Praise is a more dancehall-oriented issue from Gappy Ranks, but the quality is just as good as his initial offering. More in tune with the Internet age, sampling-from-everywhere style, Thanks and Praise feels more contemporary but no less respectful of the originators of reggae and roots music.

Keep listening to BreakThru Radio for the latest music from Gappy Ranks. We’ll keep you updated on all the latest happenings.

Written by: Jakob Schnaidt