If there's a pervasive topic in the lyrics of dancehall reggae singer Sean
Paul, it's that the man loves the ladies.
"The girls we be poking have to
[be] smoking," the 32-year-old artist and lover sings in "We Be Burnin',"
his latest hit single. "First-class ticket invitation, girls from New York,
England and Jamaican." But boasts/invitations such as this are always issued
with respect, he maintains.
"There's a lyric in one of my songs that we just did [on the new album
'The Trinity'] called 'All on Me,' featuring Tami Chynn, and I'm saying,
'Every woman [is] mine, so me think from me a tot.' Ladies inspire me not
just to write music, but every day they give me a smile. They make my heart
feel good. I always do tracks dedicated to the ladies about ladies, and at
the same time, I think I'm also trying to give insight as to how I think I
would treat a woman.
"You can say something that's going to make a lady feel empowered instead
of making her feel, 'Yeah, I am a bitch. I am a ho.' That's how women are
led to think sometimes day to day, so instead of picking that up, I'd rather
give them inspiration about themselves. I'm letting ladies know they're hot,
but I'm also saying I respect them.
SEAN PAUL; MS.
7 p.m. Tuesday
House of Blues,
329 N. Dearborn
"Just the other day, I was in Chicago seeing a lady walking to work, and
she had a baby on her arm and work stuff in the other hand. You do not see
many men doing that. So if I tell a woman, 'Shake that thing / I find you
sexy to me,' I hope that's inspiring her to feel, 'Yeah, I work hard all the
time, and I've gotta take care of the kids, but someone sees that I'm hot,'
and that makes her feel good about herself."
A suave one Sean Paul is, and he has been from the start of his career.
He made his first big splash in 1997 with the aptly titled groove "Ladies
At the time of his 2000 debut album, "Stage One," Sean Paul trailed
behind artists such as Beenie Man, Buju Banton, Shaggy and Super Cat, the
most successful proponents of dancehall's mix of traditional reggae and
harder-edged hip-hop. That changed with 2002's 6-million-selling "Dutty
Rock," which won a Grammy for Best Reggae Album, spawned a string of hits
including "Get Busy" and "Gimme the Light," and led to "Baby Boy," his No. 1
hit duet with Beyonce. But it was a difficult act to follow.
The singer started recording with celebrated producers such as the
Neptunes and Scott Storch, "but I felt like I was trying to 'Dutty Rock' all
over again. So last January, we left Miami and said, 'I'm going back home.'
The kids [in Jamaica] are always inspiring me -- the younger talent and the
younger producers and entertainers. They remind me of myself 10 years ago."
"The Trinity" -- which derives its name from its status as his third
album, its origins in the Third World and the fact that it was three years
in the making, in addition to some slightly more spiritual musings --
finally was released in September, and now the artist is in the middle of
his first U.S. tour since 2002.
To be certain, "The Trinity" is a good-time party album. But Sean Paul
believes its celebratory riddims are nonetheless part of the spiritual and
political tradition of old-school reggae.
"Music reflects life, and it is still doing so today in Jamaica," he
said. "There are a lot more conscious songs out than there were, but we
still do party music and happy soul music because people in one respect want
something to release them from the more troubled vibe. Jamaica does not have
Ferris wheels; we do not have zoos where the kids can go; we don't have any
inspirational or educational things for them to do, so music is the most
important thing in most people's lives. They listen to every word the DJ
says, and it reflects their life, so they say, 'I dance like this! I'm
celebrating my life this way, and he's talking about me!' Dancehall is about
celebrating life and bringing people together."
REASONS FOR LIVING
Time once again for an elliptical overview of some recent releases that
definitely are deserving of you attention, but which have otherwise been
With her debut album, "A Change Is Gonna Come" (Warner Bros., below),
Leela James makes a powerful entrance on the neo-soul scene,
distinguishing her brand of sultry R&B with some strong gospel underpinnings
and benefiting from the production help of Kanye West and Wyclef Jean, among
Not all of the best "New Wave of New Wave" music hails from Brooklyn and
imitates Joy Division. On "Witching Hour" (Ryko), Liverpool's Ladytron
adds a powerful and more modern electroclash edge to the Kraftwerk- and Gary
Numan-inspired sounds of its first two discs ...
Chicago's reclusive chamber pop group Pinetop Seven has never
topped the startlingly beautiful sounds of 1998's "Rigging the Toplights,"
but its latest, "The Night's Bloom" (Empyrean), is nonetheless a strong
collection of introspective, lushly orchestrated, indie-rock mood music ...
In a similar vein but much better known thanks to his work with P.J.
Harvey, comes "Once Upon A Little Time," the new disc from John Parish,
his debut on Chicago's Thrill Jockey label. It's his first effort with
vocals in 15 years, but unfortunately, vocals aren't his strength ...
Finally, dark in mood, sound and attire, Velvet Underground-derived neo-psychedelia
just doesn't get any better than L.A.'s Warlocks (sorry, but the
Jesus and Mary Chain is defunct), and the group's third release, "Surgery"
(Mute), is another deliciously devilish set of black, black misery (and I
mean that in a good way).