Tanya Stephens

On her latest disc, Gangsta Blues, Tanya Stephens replaces the male-bashing and stereotypically X-rated dancehall persona that characterized her previous albums with skilled storytelling peppered with some raw language. She nimbly details the uncertainty of relationships on the tender "It's a Pity" and the hilarious "Tek Him Back," while her acoustic ballad "What a Day" offers a dream similar to John Lennon's "Imagine": "Oh what a day when men finally live what they teach and love ain't just a concept we preach." But it's her stunning a cappella remake of Helen Reddy's equality anthem "I Am Woman" that inadvertently reveals a truly pathetic truth: If a male artist had made a record this triumphantly courageous, he'd be lauded as reggae's savior, while Stephens is only considered a good "female" artist.

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