By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
Libidinal energy dominates Back to Basics, as Beenie Man delivers incessant sexual braggadocio with varying degrees of vulgarity. Opening with "Dude," his irresistible duet with the teenage Ms. Thing, he guarantees the ladies a "proper fix." He appoints himself "King of the Dancehall" for his bedroom techniques ("Pon bed, pon floor, against wall"), not his mike skills; and exaggerates on "Dr. Know," "Girls walk in the sun to play with my big water gun." Even that sounds like a nursery rhyme compared to the crude boasting on "Doctor Mi Rate Yu" ("Hookers and hos want to give mi blowjobs") and "Pussy Language's" disturbing declaration, "Mi fuck a man's gyal mi nuh have no moral." Only the rousing "If I Neva God" and the dance craze-inspired "Set Away" deliver a respite from Beenie Man's laundry list of exploits.
Dancehall has always featured a "slack" element, with the most sophisticated practitioners cloaking their X-rated verse in metaphors and double-entendre. Beenie Man is only one of a current crop of deejays tastelessly expressing sexual themes, but as a 22-year veteran who has earned major hits by skillfully addressing everything from guns and girls to religion and racial oppression, his ribaldry should be presented with greater finesse.
After two crossover-tailored detours, Beenie Man is again on the right road with Back to Basics. But the clichéd, repetitive, and sometimes offensive lyrical content ultimately prevents him from reaching his ultimate destination: making a truly great dancehall album. -- Patricia Meschino