Beenie Man

Dis Unu Fi Hear

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Although merely 22 years old when this album was released in 1994, Beenie Man had already been a recording artist for 14 years and was one of the artists who had shaped the sound of dancehall reggae from its earliest days. The middle period of his career is notable mainly for his work with the Shocking Vibes Crew and such other eminent producers as Bobby Digital and King Jammy, but this very fine set (released in the U.S. on the normally roots rock-oriented Hightone label) finds him collaborating very fruitfully with his hometown friends the Firehouse Crew. The combination of the Firehouse Crew's massive rhythms and Beenie Man's lilting, inventive delivery makes for a truly exciting album, one that is marred occasionally by tonal mismatches between the chatter and the rhythm (a perennial problem in dancehall reggae) but more than redeemed by several moments of sheer brilliance. Highlights include the old-school-meets-new-school fusion of "Show Fi Flop," the soca-flavored "Big Man," and the hard-edged "Nuff Things Fi Done" (which is also featured in an even harder-edged hip-hop mix), while "Seven Spanish Angels" features some of the strangest lyrics ever heard on a reggae album -- something about an "altar on the ground" and the "valley of the found" and some other psychedelic weirdness. Great song, though. And a great album overall.

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