SHANGO DA DON RAGGA
Multi-Talented Recording & Performing Artist
Based in Hawaii, Shango Da Don Ragga never forgets his Southern roots. Born in Florida, but raised in North Carolina, music became a part of his life from as early as he can remember, from being in the church choir, to performing at talent shows throughout his school career, and ultimately being offered a record deal at the tender age of 16 when he and his cousins formed a rap group in the ‘80s dubbed BBC or Bad Boys Connection.
Shango Da Don Ragga, AKA Ronald Betts, began making music with his brother, Vince, during a summer sleepover. Laughing, he recalls that his very first rap song was about a break dancing bear. “Hell, I couldn’t have been no older than 9 or 10, and at that time the only rappers we had as examples were Melle Mel and Curtis Blow!”
Music became serious at the age of 14 when he was involved with a woman nearly twice his age from New York. Captivated and infatuated, Shango hung on her every word, particularly when she mentioned that she knew record producers “up North” who would love to get their hands on his music. Alas, as many first loves go, the woman abruptly left, however, Shango took what he’d learned from her and started booking himself and his cousins for small shows around town, providing entertainment at festivals.
Although Shango was pondering over several university scholarships approaching his high school graduation, he had become a father early, having been known as a “wild child”. “I was catching hell about getting my girl pregnant before graduation from everybody, teachers, the principal, my mom, my sisters, everybody. After awhile I was like, ‘screw this’, and decided to join the Army, so I could get my kid and my girl up outta that little town and provide for them in the way I saw my Daddy provide for us.” With musical aspirations now on the backburner, Shango enlisted with the U.S. Army straight out of high school, heading to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma for his Basic Training.
While in the U.S. Army, music was an after-thought. Married by 19, writing songs to popular beats was merely a momentary escape from the responsibilities of being both soldier and family man. However, whenever the opportunity presented itself, Shango would happily take the stage. While stationed at Ft. Stewart, GA, he met his first partner-in-rhyme, C-Note, and together they made up a duo called Nu Diminshun, performing at various venues across Georgia and Alabama with the help of their unit’s armorer, Jack Jackson, and were offered a tentative recording contract from Slip’n’Slide Records. Unfortunately, C-Note left the Army, and Georgia, leaving Shango suddenly solo.
Years passed, and when stationed in Hawaii, Shango became incarcerated due to an Assault charge. While inside, he wrote hundreds of songs, eager to see what he could do with them upon his release. When he paroled in 2000, he chose to remain in Hawaii, and met and befriended Jason Arnold, AKA, J-Bird, who bankrolled studio sessions with one Greg Primas, who had a home-based studio in Ewa Beach. J-Bird and Shango recorded a few demo-quality tracks with Primas, which went nowhere. It was J-Bird who brought Shango to Terrance Hallums AKA Big Teeze, a recorded artist who was with the HI-Town DJs, an on-air personality at one of the biggest radio stations in Hawaii at the time, and a producer/artist with Tiki Entertainment, a growing independent Hiphop and R’n’B record company. While at Tiki Entertainment, Shango learned the ins and outs of production, recording, and engineering. It was here that the artist Shango became Shango Da Don Ragga, where he worked on several different artists’ projects singing hooks or lending verses to the tracks. During the recording of his solo project, things fizzled, and shortly thereafter Shango, now working with fellow artist Lowie Boy, began performing all over Oahu, an island of Hawaii, building up his performance stock and further broadening his knowledge of the music business and industry.
The rest as they say…is history.
When people hear Shango’s music, they can expect to hear Soul, R’n’B, Hiphop, Blues, and Reggae. While he was signed to Tiki Entertainment, he was told that his solo project would be difficult to push because, as told to him by lead producer Spookahuna, “we don’t know how to market you. You do reggae, you do rap, you do r’n’b, we don’t know what genre to push you in.” Frustrated, but determined, Shango left the label in 2003. On his own, he explored fusing all of the musical nuances that influenced him into one, unique style.
When asked what his influences are, Shango gives a chuckle and says, “Man….EVERYTHING. When I was growing up, there were a lot of different types of people around us all the time, Mexicans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Haitians, Jamaicans, from my Daddy’s business. So I was influenced by all of their music, reggae, dancehall, tejano, merengue, bachata, all of that. I’d hang around the older folks and listen to R’n’B like Teddy Pendergrass, Shalamar, Switch, Marvin Gaye. We only really had one station that would catch so I heard all of the top 40 stuff of the 70’s and 80’s and man, I still like a lot of that. My biggest influence though, as far as HipHop goes has got to be KRS-One. R’n’B? I’d say Marvin Gaye. But then again, Bobby Womack is right up there too. Reggae-wise, as far as how I like to flow with ragga, Cutty Ranks, Louie Rankin, and Wyclef.”
Shango’s first independent release was an album titled “Private Party”. “Yeah, I put that out through TuneCore back in like, 2007. Didn’t do much in the States but overseas paid a brotha WELL ya heard?” Shango’s most recent releases include several mixtapes and his second studio album titled “IAMDONRAGGA”, still available on all major online outlets.
Performing is what Shango loves most about music. “Man, ain’t nothin’ like being onstage, when the crowd is vibin’ with you and, even though they may not know the words to your song, they just in the moment WITH you. My biggest show in Hawaii was probably opening up for Gyptian at the Crown. The Crown’s gone now, but yeah, that was pretty dope. But back in the day, me and Lowie opened for Naughty By Nature, Lil Rob, and Angelique. I’ve also opened for Honey Cocaine, shout out to Trackbaby, Jazi, and VDot, Pato Banton, some big local bands here, so yeah, at one point, I was literally living from one gig to the next.”
“Right now, I’m doing my radio slash livestream podcast thing through my internet radio station, RudeboyRadio808.com. I still make music, but moreso because I just WANT to, and not because I feel like I have to keep up with the Joneses. I think an artist, if you’re really artist, should make music when you got something real to say. That’s why I don’t want to be signed to nobody’s label. I got my own, Rudeboy Riddimz Entertainment.”
Helvetica Light is an easy-to-read font, with tall and narrow letters, that works well on almost every site.