Beenie Man

Cool Cool Rider

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Beenie Man pays homage to Bob Marley within this album, but that was unlikely to impress older roots fans who merely shook their heads with despair at another slack raggamuffin riding "unlistenable" rhythms to fame. The DJ had much to prove here; not only was Cool Cool Rider his first adult album (his previous set was 1983's The Ten Year Old DJ Wonder), but Beenie desperately needed to put the controversy surrounding his appearance at the 1991 Nelson Mandela concert behind him. With Patrick "Shocking Vibes" Roberts and Tony Kelly overseeing, Beenie entered the studio and unleashed "Which One," which immediately hit big with the dancehalls, prompting Roberts to fork out for an album. The cheeky "Cu-Cum Looks," versioning Madonna's "Material Girl," also hit big. But international fans beware: Although Beenie was quickly reestablishing himself in Jamaica, he was still a few years away from the cultural DJ who broke into the international market with Blessed. But there's no denying Beenie's enthusiasm here, especially on the opening track, "Hey," an exuberant celebration of a good-looking woman. "Yu Body Good" makes the same point, as does "Tell Me Now," but all these beauties parading about has made Beenie's "body nervous and mind jittery." No wonder, as the current generation of women are not the prim and proper ladies of the roots age; they're "Full a Glamity," and no man can tell them what to do. Although the DJ does offer some advice, counseling one to "Tek Him Money" and get rid of him, undoubtedly they were already doing just that. However, being the "Cool Cool Rider," Beenie has no fears for himself, the closest the DJ gets to playing the loverman, at least back then. Even as that number leans toward slackness, "Mi Arrow" tumbles over, so slack it sags. But even so, Beenie "A Nuh Strength" (in this case "nuh" means know, not "no"), and the DJ knows how to drive girls to ecstasy. As high as his star was rising at home, thankfully his profile was still fairly low abroad, which explains how the homophobic "Shot Em Up" escaped the kind of international condemnation that briefly brought down Buju Banton. Only "Ghetto Youths" suggests Beenie is capable of more than boasting, sex play, and violent imagery, a strong portent of what was to come. With the Firehouse Crew, Steely & Clevie, Danny Browne, and both Tony and Dave Kelly laying down the rhythms, the backings are fiery and fiercely militaristic, but still sport plenty of splashy keyboard riffs to create suitable atmospheres that range from moody roots to cheerier auras. With compilations of Beenie's early hits now beginning to proliferate, this album becomes less crucial, but for fans it will still be a thrill to revisit his early work.

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