Dancehall artiste Sean Paul said his Live N Livin album would challenge the narrative that dancehall music is dead, but the project is more like Sean Paul’s version of dancehall: Jamaican creole paired with multi-genre instrumentals and pop appeal.
The international superstar held a virtual listening party for some of the album’s tracks last evening, and the biggest standout was the tune Schedule, which features Damian Marley and Chi Chi Ching.
Producer News from Money Matters Entertainment is behind the funky fresh rhythm, and Marley sets the tone with a slow, ‘Mr Cool Guy’ rapping style, reminiscent of his suave temperament on his own song Grown & Sexy. As Paul pointed out, it’s a playful side of Gongzilla that is rarely experienced, but it complements Paul’s easy-breezy flow, though Chi Chi Ching’s contribution is forgettable.
“‘Schedule’ is a word weh we use backstage when anytime mi waan my Hennessy,” Paul explained. “Dem seh, ‘Waa gwaan?’. Mi seh, ‘Weh di schedule deh?’. Dem bring di schedule come so is a joke dat me and Jnr Gong and Ching have just as brethren… So when we hear the rhythm now we just out here drinking some Guinness and smoking and just vibing and freestyling on nuff different rhythm and this was one that played that Gong kept asking back fah… You hear people like Jnr Gong on the album (and) you’d a probably seh, ‘Bwoy is a more serious tune we going do together’. I did serious tunes on the album but dah one yah playful and happy.”
The 16-track set is indeed filled with “vibes music”, perfect for a curfew chill, workout, or music to get you pumped as you start your day. Ladies are also a key focus of this project with several tracks dedicated to belles worldwide like Money Bag which features Govana. Teetimus aced the pop production while Govana and Paul seamlessly complement each other’s deejaying styles.
“Me and Govi been a talk bout fi do some work,” said Paul. “First mi just did want him fi come to the studio and chop some rhythm up fi we but this was one a di tune dem weh drop een a little later in the game.”
Everest is another good listen and balances party feels and an overall theme of working hard for your status and accolades. Demarco built the beat and Masicka and Skillibeng are the featured artistes. Paul joked about the song title coinciding with the effort to get all men on the project, with the street (and online) chatter of beef between Demarco and Masicka, and Skillibeng being collaboration-scarce.
“Mi shout Demarco and mi shout Masicka and both a dem was like ‘No man, nothing like dat. That’s a way back thing’ and when mi hang up with each a dem, dem call each other and hadn’t done that for years so that was a great thing. Same thing wid Skillibeng; he wasn’t really doing a whole heap a collabs with nuff people…and him listen it and him blip it up.”
Space Ship (featuring Suku Ward 21) differentiates itself with a sample from Sasha’s Kill the B*tch, and could easily be played in a set with Wiley’s Boasty because of its Afroswing sonic. Paul thanked producer Cleveland ‘Clevie’ Browne for clearing the use of the 1992 song. He also thanked Sasha, who now goes by the name Sista Sasha since baptising several years ago.
“Mi call har too enuh and mi seh, ‘Sasha, mi know yaa Christian but something going on now’ and she was like ‘Hmmm, let me hear it’ and mi send it to her… She was very real with me, she seh, ‘I don’t want to push away any of my past like it never happen, I face up to it, I own up to it but I’m not that anymore’… But she don’t mind it being used.”
His Busy Signal collaboration, Boom, is another world music party joint that will be sure to have the ladies moving their waistlines.
But not all tracks are memorable. Two iconic names on a song don’t guarantee a musical match made in heaven, and Crazy, which features Buju Banton, is a prime example. Real Steel, which features Intence, is another overhyped and forgettable joint.
Fans can cop Live N Livin on March 12 and peep other tracks with artistes including Mavado, Serani, Leftside, Bugle and Jesse Royal.