By Aneel Brar
Beenie Man has had a turbulent last year. Not only suffering a series of life threatening injuries in a car accient, but also the violent death of long time road manager and friend, Paul Tyrell. Despite these experiences Beenie Man manages to release Back to Basics, dedicating it to Tyrell’s memory.
One expects an album produced in the midst of such heartache and pain to be somewhat introspective and emotional. But Back to Basics stays true to the reggae dancehall tradition exploring such themes as girls, sex, and more girls. Tracks like “Love All Girls”, “All Girls Party”, and “Pussy Language” may not pay direct homage to Tyrell’s memory, but return back to the “basics” of the genre Beenie Man helped pioneer.
Continuing his formula of combining reggae beats with hip-hop ruggedness, Beenie Man creates sounds fit for anyone to move to. The first two singles from the album, “Dude” and “King of the Dancehall”, are pure Beenie tracks but nowhere near his previous singles such as “Girls Dem Sugar” or “Feel it Boy” that made him such a crossover sucess. The most intriguing track on the album is “Back Against the Wall”, an acoustic, rootsy song featuring surprisingly good vocals and perhaps the only song with any depth of emotion during career.
Back To Basics is good at getting the body moving but generally feels like a sophomore effort rather than a return to greatness. Perhaps with a little more collaborations, something Beenie Man does very well, he could aim for a better album and a better year.