Beenie Man

Art and Life

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Old-school toaster Beenie Man, a.k.a. Moses Davis, has performed professionally since the age of 5, and at 26 he's long been considered a veteran in reggae terms. But his appeal is not founded as much in his experience as it is in his vocal and musical flexibility and his ability to balance hard-hitting rawness with feel-good commercial sense, which he proved with his '95 Blessed and again in '97 with Many Moods of Moses, yielding hits on both the R&B and country-western charts. His latest finds the Jamaican lyrical wizard working Rasta magic on a humorous pastiche of sexual posturing and socially conscious manifestoes, all nailed down on a canvas of ass-shakin' ragga, hip-hop, reggae, and dancehall jams. Beenie casts a wide net with the Latin dancehall beats of "Tumble," featuring Cuban trumpeter Arturo Sandoval atop Beenie's raps in Spanish and English, and "I've Got a Date," which maintains a laid-back groove throughout by borrowing the bassline from the Staple Singers' "I'll Take You There." He switches gears to team with Wyclef Jean on the dancehall/hip-hop hybrid "Love Me Now," lacing the mellow funk of "Girls Them Sugar" with his trademark catch phrase "sim simma," and dropping slick rhymes against the whispered croonings of ghetto diva Mya. The rest of the album features fun midtempo reggae tracks like "9 to 5," "The Best I Got," and "Analyze This," along with the rap-savvy dissin' of "Haters and Fools" and the title cut's soulful homage to reggae harmony.

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