Beenie Man

Youth Quake

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Released in the United States in 2001, this album is actually a collection of mid-'90s Beenie Man tracks recorded before he signed with Virgin and went on to win a Grammy. These tracks were recorded with producer Maurice Johnson (also known as Jack Scorpio) back when Beenie Man was still making his way in the dancehall world, popular but not yet a superstar. Listeners expect then, and they get, a younger, rawer Beenie Man than that of his recent releases, which have erred on the side of playing it safe. Johnson's production is stripped down and sparse, obviously not slicked up for a foreign market. The set kicks off with "Selassie," a call to arms for pan-black solidarity. Most of the material is of a similar strength, solid early-era Beenie Man. The best tracks, however, are the final two, which will give even serious fans pause. Here are two very early, highly rare tunes -- "Mek Use a Life" and "Unu Fi Follow We" -- featuring a teenage Beenie Man who sounds both delighted and desperate. Really interesting stuff. Mega Banton, Admiral Tibbett, and Yellowman all make guest appearances.

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