Cham

Ghetto Story

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AllMusic Review by

He used to be known as Baby Cham, but there's no way anyone who recorded such a heart-wrenching -- and yet incredibly infectious -- tale of a poverty-stricken childhood as "Ghetto Story" could be called "Baby." The title track of Cham's ("just Cham") debut is such a convincing combination of rage and regret that an Internet rumor claiming the Jamaican government had banned the track was picked up as fact by plenty of journalists, and while it proved untrue, it certainly didn't seem impossible. The Ghetto Story album presents the revolutionary track -- which is the worthy dancehall successor to Damien Marley's "Welcome to Jamrock" -- in its original mix and two remixes: a decent one with Alicia Keys and an even better one with the perfectly chosen Akon. "Rude Boy Pledge" and a few other moments sprinkled about the album echo the seriousness of the title cut, but most of the tracks favor the swaggering and slick side of the man, a side that gets the party started with hook after hook locking onto rock-solid riddims. The sexy "Vitamin S" utilizes the same "Fiesta" riddim as Beenie Man's great "Dude" and comes within inches of topping it. His anthem "Cham" is ace, "Bring It On" is as convincingly cool as anything by T.O.K., and there are no sleazy efforts or filler to water down Cham's aggressive dancehall stance for non-Jamaican ears. Ambitious, exciting, well built, and -- for anyone who cares about dancehall -- unmissable.

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