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SEAN PAUL — DUTTY ROCK - WARNER BROS/TIPS
Record Rating: ****

Sean Paul - Dutty Rock A renowned athlete with an amazing track record in his native Jamaica, Sean Paul chose instead to pursue his love of music in the dancehalls, where he also proved himself a masterful DJ. His major breakthrough came with the dancehall hit Infiltrate, which competed with Beenie Man's international smash hit Who Am I, and was based on the same rhythm.

And after a string of successful singles in Jamaica, Europe and big appearances in the US, he’s finally found his way to shores here – trying to hook the listener in. And he succeeds – but only up to a point. Dutty Rock is his latest offering - full of variations on traditional reggae music. The rap and modern influences makes them hard not to listen to, even if you don't know what he's saying right off the bat. The first single Gimme The Light is a catchy, overplayed song that has an irresistible hook – and it was a surprise hit mid 2003 - but it sounded exactly like a Shaggy song. The thing that makes you take notice of Dutty Rock – are the guest appearances on the album by hip-hop and R&B’s brightest names- Debbie Nova, Busta Rhymes and Rahzel are among the track listing, not to mention a smattering of hip-hop’s biggest superstar producers - the Neptunes as well. A musical drone here, a tinge of Indian music there, layer some hip-hop and dancehall rhythms over the top and you get something as positively infectious as his second single Get Busy was - filled with attitudes and a hypnotic funked-out beat. The fourteen plus tracks are reggae meeting hip-hop and R&B in the dancehall, not the other way around, and Sean Paul certainly seems to be developing the ear for mixing the styles together.

Being touted a more authentic alternative to Shaggy; Sean Paul isn't aiming to score points for innovation, simply wants to get the party started. Dutty Rock is aimed squarely for the teen pop market – and this one's for the fans who already have Beyonce’s Dangerously in Love and Shaggy’s last album. Bob Marley fans stay away.

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