Arular M.I.A.'s debut record is both intensely urban and aggressively modern. The group's sole member, Maya Arul, infuses her blend of hip-hop and chunky electro with raw, tribal overtones and a healthy dose of sex appeal. There are elements of world music here, in Arul's multilingual vocal as well as the tonal shifts and instrumentation (like the drone that opens up "Hombre"). Her delivery uses a variety of yelps and tics full of street-wise confidence and bratty energy. But there's also an appealing melodic sense, like early Neneh Cherry or Miss Kitten when she's not in diva mode. M.I.A. doesn't really sound like anybody; the music is just experimental enough to wiggle out of easy comparisons. The IDM-style bleeps and beeps of "Galang," for example, give an already catchy song extra punch. The only problem with the record, a common flaw for debuts, is a sameness from track to track which robs it of the ability to surprise. Still, Arul is hugely talented and her abundant originality packs a wallop. --Matthew Cooke
1-01 - Banana Skit 1-02 - Pull Up the People 1-03 - Bucky Done Gun 1-04 - Fire Fire 1-05 - Freedom Skit 1-06 - Amazon 1-07 - Bingo 1-08 - Hombre 1-09 - One for the Head Skit 1-10 - 10 Dollar 1-11 - Sunshowers 1-12 - Galang
With A Girl Like Me, the Barbadian teen-queen Rihanna is looking to transfer all claims of royalty to the summertime pop charts. If anybody's going to rule them, she pretty much proclaims by way of "SOS," a song no less irresistible, intoxicating, and all-out cool than 2005's "Pon de Replay," off her debut, she's it. That's not to say this new disc is anything like its predecessor overall. Where Music of the Sun was mostly what its title suggests--a romp through an anglo-friendly island with no sunscreen required--A Girl Like Me is more reflective and a little rueful; you get the sense it was crafted in part to show her range, with executive producer Jay-Z guiding her through it gracefully. "Unfaithful" is a noir-ish testing of the R&B waters, and it goes so well that Rihanna wastes no time skinny-dipping her way into the deep end--"Final Goodbye," "P.S. (I'm Still Not Over You)," and "A Million Miles Away" all betray juicy bits of Beyonce. Back in barefoot bikini-girl land, though--a territory that covers roughly half this disc--the party's still going strong. Rihanna gives dancehall legend Sean Paul a run for his money with the bouncing "Break It Off," and "We Ride" makes you want to roll down the windows and stick your head out the passenger side. Crank it up and keep the sunglasses handy. --Tammy La Gorce With A Girl Like Me, the Barbadian teen-queen Rihanna is looking to transfer all claims of royalty to the summertime pop charts. If anybody's going to rule them, she pretty much proclaims by way of "SOS," a song no less irresistible, intoxicating, and all-out cool than 2005's "Pon de Replay," off her debut, she's it. That's not to say this new disc is anything like its predecessor overall. Where Music of the Sun was mostly what its title suggests--a romp through an anglo-friendly island with no sunscreen required--A Girl Like Me is more reflective and a little rueful; you get the sense it was crafted in part to show her range, with executive producer Jay-Z guiding her through it gracefully. "Unfaithful" is a...
Welcome to Jamrock is the smash hit of the summer. Produced by Stephen Marley & Damian Marley, album features cuts with Nas, Black Thought/Roots, Bobby Brown, Bounty Killer & Eek-A-Mouse. Universal. 2005. Grammy winner (for 2001's Halfway Tree) Damian "Junior Gong" Marley, the youngest singing son of the immortal Bob and brother of Ziggy, Julian, Stephen and Ky-mani, has made a major splash in the family business. The confrontational title track of his third album (which entered the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart at Number 7, the biggest opening week ever for a reggae artist), deals with vacationing "haves" partying on the backs of increasingly desperate "have-nots." It has fomented a storm of protest from corporate entities who claim that Marley has presented his homeland (or more accurately, their interests) in a negative light. Another high point is "Pimpa's Paradise," a heartbreaker about drugs leading to prostitution, backed by a vulnerable-sounding acoustic guitar. Produced by Damian and Stephen Marley, it's an eclectic, sophisticated mix, constructed over treacherous rhythmic undercurrents, illuminated by empathy, courage and soul. A shifting kaleidoscope of classic and cutting-edge Jamaican grooves spars with R&B and hip-hop, references to Marcus Garvey, Eek-A-Mouse, and Exodus, plus guest stints from Buju Banton, Bounty Killer, Bobby Brown, Black Thought and Nas. --Christina Roden
Damian 'Jr.. Gong' Marley, the Youngest Son of Reggae Legend Bob Marley, Steps Out in His Own Right with the Release of Album 'Welcome to Jamrock' on 12 September. Damian Robert Nesta Marley Aka 'Junior Gong', Was Born in Kingston, Jamaica on July 21 1978, the Son of Bod Marley 1977 Miss World Cindy Breakspeare. Welcome to Jamrock' Features a Medley of Artists Including Stephen Marley, Bounty Killer, Eek-A-Mouse, Nas, Black T Bobby Brown. With the Release of 'Welcome to Jamrock', And the Forthcoming Hotly Tipped Single of the Same Name Damian Marley Take the Marley Mucical Legacy to the Next Level. UCJ. 2005.
Manufacturer: VP Records / Alantic
Arguably one of the biggest stories in the music industry the year of its release, Sean Paul's Atlantic debut "Dutty Rock" spawned 2 Top 10 hits with "Gimme the Light" (#7) and "Get Busy". He duets with Destiny's Child's Beyonce on her single "Baby Boy". This revised edition of "Dutty Rock" (new selection number)includes the smash hit "Baby Boy" with Beyonce. The addition of this new track and the increased radio, TV and media exposure will no doubt keep him there for a long time to come. The stars could no more be aligned for Sean Paul than they are right now! Now that everybody wears Rastafarian-flavored red, green, and gold wristbands and the Signal De Plane and Pon De River dances have grown to macarena-like proportions, you have Sean Paul (and the guy who actually invented these dances, the "Energy God" Elephant Man) to thank. This re-release intended for international markets trims the fat from the original Dutty Rock by losing the filler skits, songs ("It's On"), and adding the previously unavailable "Baby Boy" single featuring Beyonce's seductive croons. This one's for fans who don't have Beyonce's Dangerously in Love album (the only other place to get this popular reggae-lite single) and those who want to renew their love affair with the Diwali riddim popularized on Paul's "Get Busy"--and subsequently re-sung on chart toppers by Lumidee ("Never Leave You (Uh Oooh, Uh Oooh)") and fellow dancehall vocalist Wayne Wonder ("No Letting Go"). --Dalton Higgins
There's nothing like the warm spirit of the caribbean, to re-energize a dry, stale season of the same old song & dance. Introducing Rihanna, a stunning 17-yr-old from barbados who's poised & positioned to take the music world by storm. Already on teen peoples's hot list, Rihanna's powerful singing voice conjures up feelings & experiences way beyond her years....while still maintaining her youthful spirit. Besides ripping traditional reggae tracks like a seasoned dancehall Queen, she exudes the kind of energy that solidifies her as one of 05's top emerging artists. Her debut album Music Of The Sun, includes the mega summer hit 'Pon De Replay' as well as the sultry ballad 'last time', & the track masters produced 'If It's Lovin That You Want'. Island. 2005.
The highly anticipated debut album Features 'The Traffic Jam and 'Hey Baby'. A member of the celebrated Marley sibling group The Melody Makers since the age of seven, the 5 time Grammy Award winning producer, singer, songwriter, and multi-in strumentalist is stepping center stage for the first time. Mind Control is all Stephen and a cornucopia of the sounds and styles that he loves: a blend of reggae, rock, R&B, nyabinghi rhythms, flamenco and hip-hop. It's an album with the grit and flavor to rock old school Kingston sound systems and slippery, waxed Miami Range Rovers alike. Features cameos from Damian Jr, Gong Marley, Julian Marley, Mos Def, Ben Harper and Mr. Cheeks. It's hard to believe that Stephen Marley is only now making his solo debut. But as the brains (producer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, singer) of the family who has been behind the Grammy-winning careers of the Melody Makers and Damian Marley, as well as young brothers Kymani and Julian, he hasn't been slacking off or lost in a haze of ganja. Perhaps too acutely aware of the magnitude of this record, Marley finished it once, then scrapped several songs and started anew. The results this time reveal an artist who is in complete control of his medium: Some songs have a political edge; some are societal critiques; some are lullabies to his children; some are party anthems. The sound brings in such unlikely but satisfying elements as flamenco guitar and nyabinghi rhythms. Throw in guest spots from Mos Def, Ben Harper, his brothers and others, and Mind Control truly does sound like the work of a master craftsman able to weave all these different ideas into one cohesive whole. â€“-Tad Hendrickson