Sean Paul - Imperial Blaze

Posted August 17, 2009
Tags: Sean Paul,

First, a little Music Trivia: After Bob Marley, who’s the highest selling Jamaican artist of...

Imperial Blaze Album Review

First, a little Music Trivia: After Bob Marley, who’s the highest selling Jamaican artist of all time? Go ahead. Think it over. I’ll give you a sec. If you guessed Collie Buddz, you’re unbelievably, stupendously wrong. But if you guessed Sean Paul, congratulations, you’re right; though I wouldn’t get too excited (this is a Sean Paul review after all). The point is, although his name never comes up in conversations about this generation’s most influential artists, Mr. Paul has done more to bridge the gap between American and Jamaican musical culture than anyone in modern music. Paul’s lack of respect is likely because his music has always inspired more dry humping than political activism, but make no mistake, the man has made an enormous impact.

To call Sean Paul’s new album Imperial Blaze delayed would be to radically expand the definition of the word “delayed”. Originally set for a summer…of 2007 release, the island-fueled burner Imperial Blaze is his first album in almost four years. Sean-a Paul-a, as he apparently likes to call himself, said the “delay” was due in part to his desire to make more socially conscious music. Well, on that criteria alone Imperial Blaze is a massive failure, unless there’s something about the genocide in Sudan I’m missing in I Know You Like It. But in the ways by which we’ve always measured Paul, by the way his music seems to hypnotically make girl’s hips move, by how many parties he’s kick started, Imperial Blaze is welcome relief from a dutty rock drought that lasted far too long.

You know what Sean Paul does better than anyone else? He does So Fine better than anyone else. So Fine has the same bouncing percussive foundation he rode to fame, expertly overlaid with his trademark melodic flow. Personally, I can barely understand half of what he’s saying, for all I know he’s rhyming about tax returns, but he sounds so damn good the lyrics hardly matter. Similarly guaranteed to pack dance floors is the more slowly winding Press It Up. While Paul is no stranger to getting a little dirty, he never gets nasty, always keeping his lyrics flirty and fun. “I can’t wait to caress it” is about as x-rated as we get, a line so tame Pitbull would be embarrassed to even think it, which is exactly the point. Sean Paul makes fun music. It’s not complicated, it’s not erotic, it’s fun, and Imperial Blaze is a sure fire promise to spark a party.

Despite Paul’s previous promise of increased social relevance, there’s nothing even remotely approaching politics on Imperial Blaze, although he does switch up his style a couple times on the album, almost always for the worse. Hold My Hand is Paul’s attempt to embrace his reggae roots, a smoothly guitar driven cut that has Paul slowly singing, which wouldn’t be a problem, if he could sing. There might be some teenage girls out there who shed a tear at Hold My Hand, but those girls also probably own the High School Musical soundtrack. Pepperpot is a similar, but even worse, acoustically oriented track, and while it may be a compliment in Jamaica, calling a girl “my pepperpot” might get you slapped in America.

Luckily, Sean Paul’s wannabe-Wyclef moments are few and far between on Imperial Blaze. Instead he wisely spends the vast majority of the album concentrated on what he does best, make booties clap. Speaking of which, Wine Baby Wine might be my favorite track on the album. I can’t even imagine how crazy things get when the booming Wine Baby Wine comes on (note to self: book vacation to Jamaica). Wine Baby might be the best of the bunch, but Imperial Blaze houses no shortage of booty-friendly joints, from the slinky Evening Ride to the synth-heavy She Wanna Be Down. If anything Imperial Blaze could have been about five songs shorter (he reportedly recorded more than 60 tracks for the album), but ultimately it’s just too much of a good thing. Sean Paul won’t make you think. He won’t make you cry, or lust, or dream, but he will move a party, and that’s no small thing. So appreciate Sean Paul while he’s here. You never know, he might just disappear for four years.

DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins

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Posted August 17, 2009
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