Sean Paul – Tomahawk Technique | Album Review

Sean Paul, as we all know, is one of dancehall’s most successful exports ever. Multi-platinum selling albums, chart-topping singles as detailed in our exclusive interview last year. However, as you may have worked out by the singles (especially second single “She Doesn’t Mind”) or numerous cuts leaked prior to the albums release, hairstyle isn’t the only thing Mr. “Dutty Rock” is experimenting with.

Production credits on fourth album Tomahawk Technique read pretty much like an elite artists pop album (Benny Blanco, Stargate, DJ Ammo etc.). Sonically, Tomahawk Technique’s concept is pop producers making dancehall from their perspective. Interesting huh?

Album opens with both singles in the order they were released; 1. “Got 2 Luv U”, 2. “She Doesn’t Mind”. “Got 2 Luv U” has never quite sat well with me, if I’m honest. To use a Jamaican term, I’d call that tune there “early warmers,” because it’s a pre-hype sing along while you get your drinks in, eat some food and find a nice spot to stand.

“She Doesn’t Mind”, however, is a peak of the pop segment type song on a stadium vibe – big chorus, pulsating drums, layered with synths. I can close my eyes and imagine it at approximately 12:04am at a New Year’s party before Major Lazer’s “Pon Di Floor.” Ironically, it is more likely to offend ears of original Sean Paul fans due it’s allegiance to the euro-pop sound, albeit with a dancehall spin. Sort of song I’ll sing along to on the radio whilst ensuring the windows are sealed.

There are a few filler tracks like “Won’t Stop (Turn Me Out),” “Dream Girl” and “Put It On You,” in my opinion. Apart from that, it’s a cool album, even if a tad guilty pleasure at times. “Hold On” is the only track which sees the Jamaican stray from a song seducing ladies in favour of inspirational anthem.

Standout tracks for me are “She Doesn’t Mind,” “Touch The Sky,” “Body,” “What I Want,” “Roll Wid Di Don” and “Wedding Crashers.” You can definitely catch me practicing my dances for the night to any of those.

Must admit I find Stargate’s contribution quite underwhelming. I was excited at the prospect of a dancehall artist finally getting to do their riddims justice – well, legally this time (see: Vybz Kartel ft. Spice Ramping Shop”. Please be advised that the song contains explicit material unsuitable for anyone under the age of about 23).

There definitely isn’t anything to rival their numerous dancehall/pop efforts like Rihanna’s “What’s My Name” and “Rudeboy,” Ne-Yo‘s “Miss Independent” or even Jennifer Lopez “I’m Into You.” Or even Sean Kingston ft. Nicki Minaj “Dutty Love” (so what if I turn it down on public transport to avoid possible earphone leakage). Maybe I shouldn’t compare, alas I did, alas I am not that impressed.

Admittedly, “How Deep Is Your Love?” produced by the Norwegian duo is a cool vibe, but I’m sure we all expect more than a “cool vibe”, especially when I believe they’re taking up space a Jamaican dancehall producer could have filled. Which leads me nicely on to my next point; of the twelve tracks, two are genuine, authentic dancehall.

Placing my A&R snap back slightly tilted on my dome, I would have rounded it at least five. Really would have liked an inclusion of “Turn Me On” which featured on 2010’s Smokin’ riddim. Self-produced “Roll Di Don” from Material Riddim is an excellent example of electro-dancehall meeting on the dancehall side of the fence.

“Wedding Crashers” is easily the most popular song he’s had in Jamaican dancehall in the past year. “Standing There” (plus re-record the chick’s vocals) on the extremely popular Overproof riddim would have been nice, but I think it was recorded after finalisation of the album. One on Lost Angel riddim or a song for the ganja smokers on Snap Back riddim, plus a few more and everyone’s happy.

“Touch The Sky” and “What I Want” are easily the best examples of the euro-pop x dancehall meeting in a sweet harmony. Both songs have me screaming “WHERE’S THE SMOKE MACHINE AND MY GLOW STICKS? WAIT, DO I NEED GLOW STICKS IN 2012?” Dancehall provide the best drum’n’bass combination you’ll find in music and house have those futuristic synths on ball-and-chain.

In conclusion, if you enter this album with knowledge of the pop production, it is ok. If you’re hoping for a reflection of what’s going on in the dancehall world prepare for disappointment. I was intrigued by the production concept and I still find it interesting.

These producers implement reggae and dancehall influences when they create songs for non-Jamaicans/reggae artists anyway, plus we know the current climate in the pop world is house-centric, as opposed to Hip Hop/R&B when Sean burst on to the scene 10 years ago. I understand it’s better he compromise and remain relevant than be hard-headed and irrelevant (when you’re a pop star). If you don’t like his new stuff, you can buy his old album or buy the other songs then create your own playlist! Ratings to Sean for pushing the boundary. We do sometimes stick dancehall in one place. He challenges our perceptions of what dancehall is. I would have loved, and feel we deserved more dancehall though. It’s what we know him for.

Sean Paul – Tomahawk Technique
Released: February 21
Label: Warner
Buy: iTunes UK / Amazon US / Amazon UK

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