Richie Spice

Spice in Your Life

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The third album from Richie Spice makes a couple of things very clear. First, he's a fine singer and an even better songwriter, capable of dropping completely convincing dancehall, hip hop and roots-and-culture material without seeming to break a sweat. Second, he needs someone to give him some discipline in the studio and steer him clear of such waste-of-time touches as chest-beating intros (and outros) and exploitative recordings of adorable children talking about their career plans and then chanting "We love Richie Spice!." The less time he spends on that stuff and the more he spends on stern anthems of racial consciousness ("Black Like a Tar"), of impending apocalypse ("Earth a Run Red") and of horticultural devotion ("Marijuana"), the better. He's also in fine form when expressing somewhat less lofty sentiments, as on the hip-hop-inflected "Holiday," and when pilfering a theme from the Black Uhuru catalog ("Fake Smile"). You'll want to keep your finger poised near the "track forward" button, but this album is well worth hearing.

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