Elephant Man

Monsters of Dancehall: The Energy God

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Given the number of times Elephant Man has stolen the show on dancehall compilations and one-rhythm albums in recent years, you'd expect a 20-track retrospective to be nothing but wall-to-wall excitement. But maybe he needs to be surrounded by lesser talents in order to really shine. There's no questioning the power of the dark and foreboding "Log On," with its slowly loping rhythm against which Elephant Man's deliberate flow moves with sharp authority, or the equally dark and compelling "Replacement Killer," or the brilliant way he rides the fun and complex soca-stutter-step rhythm on "Krazy." And if "Egyptian Dance" is ultimately kind of silly, it's also lots of fun, as is the sharp and spare "Truth Hurts." It's harder to understand the inclusion of such lightweight, throwaway material as "Elephant Message" and "Genie Dance" and the unbelievably annoying "Higher Level," and when he tries to sing (as he does on the excruciating "Bad Man a Bad Man") the results are downright embarrassing. This album is worthwhile, but it's more uneven than it should be given Elephant Man's talent and the depth of his catalog.

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