Ranking Toyan, started off in the mid 70’s DJ-ing for some of the biggest sound systems in Jamaica. He scored a hit in 1978 with the track ‘Disco Pants’
on the Roots Tradition label. In 1981 he released the album ‘How the West Was Won’, generally agreed as Toyan’s masterpiece, an album with staggering credentials: released by Greensleeves, written and produced by Henry ‘Junjo’ Lawes, backed by the Roots Radics, recorded at Channel One, and mixed by Scientist at King Tubby’s studio. In 1982/83 he released several great albums for Jah Thomas, Scientist and Lawes. In 1991 he was murdered by gunmen. The exact details about his murder are still not clear.
Toyan began his career in 1974, deejaying on Kingston’s sound systems, such as Socialist Roots and Romantic HiFi. He recorded his debut single, “Disco Pants” in the late 1970s for producer Don Mais. He went on to work extensively with Joseph Hoo Kim and Jah Thomas, resulting in a string of hits including “Girls Nowadays”, “Kill No Man”, “John Tom”, and “Talk of the Town”, as well as combination hits with The Mighty Diamonds (“Pretty Woman”), Badoo (“Rocking the 5000”), and Freddie McGregor (“Roots Man Skanking”). In 1981 he joined Henry “Junjo” Lawes’ Volcano Sound system, and toured Canada. With Lawes, he recorded the album How the West Was Won, which is regarded as his best work, and went on to produce his own work and that of others such as Billy Boyo and Anthony Johnson. He toured the United Kingdom with the Jah Prophecy band and performed in Jamaica alongside Dennis Brown.
He was murdered in Jamaica in 1991.