When the 16-year-old singer Sean Kingston came on the scene it was with the single "Colors 2007," a nightmare walkin'/psychopath talkin' type track with dramatic bells, hardcore swagger, and a couple shoutouts to his Jamaican homeland and homeboys. Then came "Beautiful Girls," a pop-rap tune that took a bit of Ben E. King's "Stand by Me" and twisted into a pouty "she left me" lament that used the word "suicidal" as if it meant "kinda sad." If you thought "Beautiful Girls" was the greatest sin against urban music since "Fergalicious" then Kingston's self-titled debut is not for you. The album claims "Colors 2007" as a bonus track and then loads up on enough gimmicks, high-profile samples, hooks, and ridiculous lyrics that it's the textbook definition of love it or hate it and shouldn't be approached by anyone who considers themselves "hardcore." Good news is that a slick swagger suits Kingston much better than the hardcore baller stance, and that he's more at ease comes through loud and clear. The unexpected side effect of this move towards pop and polish is that the Jamaican roots pay off splendidly as he takes more of a dancehall attitude towards his vocals, and trades reverent for playful, and serious for exciting. "Me Love" reclaims Led Zeppelin's "D'yer Mak'er" for the island of Jamaica with finger-snaps and glitter. "Got No Shorty" bounces on the "I Ain't Got Nobody" melody and offers "I'm lookin for love/Not askin' for much/Just a fine little shorty/With a big ol butt" without any shame. Paula DeAnda does an excellent Mariah Carey impression on the sunshine-bright "There's Nothin" while "I Can Feel It" McGyvers a great puppy-love song out of everyday lyrics, a Phil Collins sample, and an air horn. Breezy, feel-good guilty pleasures abound on this lightweight pool-party of an album.
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AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
feat: Paula DeAnda