Philip Thomas aka “Cutty Ranks” was born on 12 February, 1965 in Clarendon Parish. He began his career as a reggae artist at the age of eleven with local sound systems, going on to work with the Gemini sound system, before moving on to work with Tony Rebel’s Rebel Tone and Papa Roots, and later working with Stereo Mars, Arrows and Metro Media. He joined Killamanjaro where he worked alongside Early B, Super Cat, Puddy Roots, and Little Twitch, and then Sturmars where he worked with Josey Wales, Nicodemus, Super Cat, U Brown and Yami Bolo.
During the eighties, Ranks moved on to the Arrows sound system and his 1986 debut single “Gunman Lyrics” was recorded for Winston Riley’s Techniques label. He also recorded such tracks as “Out of Hand” and “Fishman Lyrics” with Riley and after spending some time in Miami working with Super Cat and Nicodemus, he worked with Patrick Roberts’ Shocking Vibes label, releasing the single “The Bomber”. In 1990, he joined Donovan Germain’s Penthouse label, enjoying a hit with “Pon Mi Nozzle”.
Ranks came to the attention of London-based Fashion Records, and in 1991 he released “The Stopper” and a debut album of the same name for Fashion, following this up with the album Lethal Weapon in the same year for Penthouse, featuring singers such as Marcia Griffiths, Dennis Brown, Wayne Wonder and Beres Hammond. His follow-up albums From Mi Heart and Six Million Ways to Die were released on Priority Records in 1996. Six Million Ways to Die included a hip hop remix of Ranks’ song “A Who Seh Me Dun” which was voiced earlier over the Bam Bam riddim in 1992. In 2000, he released the album Back with a Vengeance produced by King Jammy. This album saw Ranks venture into other musical styles, including hip hop and dancehall.
He now releases music on his own Philip Music label. He has rejected the ‘slackness’ of modern dancehall in favour of more ‘cultural’ concerns. In 2012, he released the album Full Blast, featuring guest appearances from Beres Hammond, Luciano, and Gwen Guthrie. In 2013, he featured on 2 Chainz’s “Slums of the Ghetto” and a remix of T.RONE’s “Hello Love”.
In 2018, his vocals were featured on El Chombo’s reggaeton song “Dame Tu Cosita”, which was originally released in 1997 in short form on the album Cuentos de la Cripta 2, titled “Introducción B (El Cosita Mix)” which features Ranks’ sampled vocals from the track “Kill Them Out”. In 2020, he contributed vocals to the Run the Jewels song “Holy Calamafuck” from their album Run the Jewels 4.