KINGSTON, Jamaica, Mon. Mar. 23, 2009: A popular Jamaican dancehall singer has been slapped with a murder charge.
Police on Saturday charged Ninja Man, born Desmond John Ballentine, with murder, conspiracy to murder and illegal possession of a firearm in last Monday`s killing of a 20-year-old man on Marl Road in Kingston.
Ninja Man, 43 of Annotto Bay, Jamaica, is known for his controversial and pro-gun lyrics and his stuttering and melodramatic style of music. He launched his deejay career with the Black Culture Sound System at age 12 as `Double Ugly.` In 1980, he joined Killamanjaro and there got the chance to learn from established deejays Super Cat and Early B, and released his debut single as `Uglyman.`
Yet another name change made him the now well known Ninjaman. In 1987, Ninjaman recorded – and produced himself – his first hit single `Protection,` a duet with Courtney Melody. The following years brought many prolific collaborations with producers like King Jammy, Witty, Xterminator, Philip `Fatis` Burrell, Redman, Ini Kamoze, Bobby Digital, Augustus `Gussie` Clarke, and Steely & Clevie and Henry `Junjo` Lawes. It has been said that Ninjaman comes up with all of his lyrics on the spot in the recording studio, in a freestyle manner.
His hits over the years 1989-1992, like `Murder Dem,` `Permit to Bury` and `Above the Law` reinforced Ninjaman’s image of a violent rude boy. One of his most infamous rivalries was the one with Shabba Ranks, leading to a number of clashes.
In 1993, criticism of Ninjaman’s violent and pro-gun lyrics arose, leading to a decline in performing gigs and chances to record.
By 1997, Ninjaman had changed his name once again, now performing gospel reggae songs as `Brother Desmond.` He sought help to fight his Crack cocaine addiction in born again Christianity. It was not a complete changeover though, earning him criticism from parts of the Jamaican Christian community.
In the late 1990s, he was accused (but later acquitted) of having raped a woman at knifepoint in his home and having murdered a taxi driver. He was sentenced to one year in jail in late 1999, after being convicted of unlawfully possessing a firearm and ammunition.
Ninja Man is expected in court this week to answer the charges.