The production on Art’s seventeen tracks is slick and steep allowing funk driven hip-hop grooves and traditional dancehall riddims to power songs such as “Analyze This” and “Trus Me”. This rhythmic propulsion also lays a bed for beautiful harmonies to bloom on “Haters and Fools” but it is the album’s special guests that propels Art and Life to the next level. A pair of new school Divas lend their talents as the kaleidoscopicKelisshowcases on the chorus of “Jamaica Way” while red-hotMyalends her smooth-as-silk grace to “Girls Dem Sugar”. Elsewhere Steve Perry of theCherry Poppin’ Daddiesslides in a taste of ska as Beenie rhymes “Mamacita, Hey mama, mama...we can go and smoke the Ba-hama”. This smoke, in turn, signals a fire as Cuban trumpet legendArturo Sandovalleads a Calypso party line on “Tumble (La Caida)”. Indeed, Art and Life covers a vast array of sounds but when I hear “I’ve Got A Date” mixing in theStaples Singers“I’ll Take You There” bass line, I wonder for a brief moment what else this classic melody could be used to sell...maybe national ads for www.match.com (I want a commission)?
Aside from this wandering thought, Art and Life’s universally empowering message is, at times, surrounded by ultra bright moments of can't-get-it-out-of-your-head pop as the first single “Love Me Now (or hate me more)” and its infectious chorus is featured in two versions, both of which are fueled by a sample ofNaughty By Nature’s“O.P.P.”. The first version, lathered deep in funk, featuresWyclef Jean (Fugees)and rapperRedman. Conversely, the second has more of a propulsive DJ inspired beat and ultimately segues in to theCivil Rights Anthem“We Shall Overcome” which reminds one of the powers of music.
Music may be the world’s greatest medium and a single man named Beenie (which means small in Jamaican pat wah ) finds himself in the rather tall position of becoming a modern day prophet by sharing his art and life. It’s incredibly inspiring to acknowledge that a singular voice can find its way into so many minds and lives. And when art actualizes this power, beauty baths the soul, energizes the mind and enriches one’s life. Zim Zimma...Jah Mon!
Rating 4 out of 5 stars
Track listing:Haters and Fools / Ola (featuring Steve Perry of The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies) / Love Me Now – Rockwilder Remix (featuring Wyclef and Redman) / Girls Dem Sugar (featuring Mya) / Crazy Notion / Original Tune / Jamaica Way (featuring Kelis) / Love Me Now (featuring Wyclef) / Art and Life / Analyze This / Heights of Great Men / 9 to 5 / Trus Me / Tumble – La Caida (featuring Arturo Sandoval) / Some Tonight (featuring Tanto Metro & Devonte / The Best That I Got / I’ve Got A Date
Personnel: Beenie Man / Dave Kelly / Salaam Remi / Pharrell Williams / Chad Hugo / Brian Gold / Mr Easy
Record Label: Virgin Records
Style: Beyond Jazz
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