Sean Paul - Dutty Rock

Over the last decade ragga and dance hall music has had bad press over it's sexist and homophobic lyrics with it culminating in a protest by Gay and Lesbian groups at this years Mobo's over the appearance of Elephant Man - but the reason that the music hasn't crossed over in the mainstream in the same way that hip-hop and R&B has is that in the whole is there simply have been too many ragga artists and not enough ragga tunes. Sean Paul hopefully is the first of a number of artist crossing over into the mainstream and if there was one tune that defined the ragga sound it was Paul's "Gimme The Light" which blew up any rave in any continent the world over.

"Dutty Rock" is an album which not only matches the aforementioned single, but gives hope that Sean Paul could become an international superstar with the statement of intent coming early on with "Reggae Music Deh Ya Fi Stay" on the Sly & Robbie produced "Shout (Street Respect)". If it wasn't for the classic electro mash up on "I Like Glue" it could easily turn into a Weird Al Yankovic parody with bragodious lyrics of "Woody Woody", "Gimme Gimme" before admitting that "And I don't mean to brag. Everyday I gotta shag. Gimme the gal every time". It's not exactly Shakespeare, but it's still lyrical genius compared to the commercial alternatives of Shaggy.

It's not at all surprising that despite the fact their name is emblazoned on the frontcover, the only bad track on "Dutty Rock" is the Neptunes produced "Bubble". It's the sort of lame R&B light tune they write in their lunch break in-between penning hits for Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake and proves that Neptunes are yesterdays producers. When you put it next to the smoking anthem "Ganja Breed" of future smash hits "I'm Still In Love With You" and "International Affair", the latter featuring a sample from "Uptown Top Rankin", it just seems that the Neptunes are stuck in a rut and bringing everyone down with them.

Sean Paul has produced one of the best ragga dance hall albums of recent years and the great thing is this is only the start. Be prepared for 2003 - the year Dance Hall takes over!!!

Alex McCann

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