When 26-year-old Jamaican singjay I-Wayne emerged in the reggae world two years ago, it was for his highly regarded Lava Ground debut, which somehow instantly gave him next-to-blow-up status among reggae artists. After a solid year of radio spins and moderate touring, the prediction by most music critics that I-Wayne would proverbially blow the fuck up has mostly fallen well short of initial expectations. The talented alto singer has an easily recognizable voice and crafts one-drop reggae tunes on par with Jah Cure, but fame has continued to elude him.
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That should change this week with the release of his follow-up album, Book of Life, as his long-awaited takeover of reggae finally has some new music to keep those dreams alive. With a knack for crafting surefire nyabinghi anthems more suitable for countrymen in the hills than hard-core dancehall fans, I-Wayne brings his songwriting A game with Book of Life. His high-pitched, sexier-than-thou voice also sounds more confident and ripe on this second effort as he tackles social issues on tracks like "Politics and Religion" and "No Unnecessary War." Sometimes the production seems lazy and oversimplified, yet it's during these times when I-Wayne's vocal style stands out most. Call it a blessing and a curse, but Book of Life, even with its shortcomings, casts I-Wayne in the best light he has seen thus far.