Various Artists

Greensleeves Rhythm Album #34: Masterpiece

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Dancehall producers find inspiration in just about anything. Every kind of gimmicky sound is copped and used to develop a new rhythm for Jamaica's wealth of dancehall singers to cut tracks with. As soon as these tracks are cut, Greensleeves manages to have them collected on one album for mass consumption. Often these collections hit the shelves before the singles even hit heavy rotation. With the Masterpiece riddim the producers seem to be opting for a swing motif. This motif gives the singers endless possibilities for borrowing melodies for their tracks. The most distinct tracks don't shy away from a little borrowing. Beenie Man, Wayne Marshall, and Danny English & Egg Nog all lead off with familiar melodies that fit very well with the sound that the producers are trying to create. Spragga Benz takes the borrowing of melody and lyrics into the realm of comedy when he sings, "What a girl wants." The high-pitched guitar picking makes his track a highlight despite the lyrics. The Masterpiece rhythm's drumbeat is even more house influenced than Diwali, but it is the accompanying percussion that really accents the drums and gives it the swing sound. Without a close listening, the rhythm could be easily brushed off, but after letting a few tracks click off, the strengths of the rhythm are made clear. The driving drumbeat and percussion make the Masterpiece rhythm very successful. It is only the gimmicky nature of the rhythm that takes away from the tracks. Almost all rhythms depend on some kind of gimmick to define their rhythm, but Masterpiece takes it in a direction that doesn't pay off enough. The beat is strong but the overall sound drags the songs toward a genre of novelty tracks.

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