A common expression is never judge a book by its cover, but that is exactly what you can do with Gyptian’s fourth album Sex, Love & Reggae. It sounds like it looks. Sensual, boastful and frisky.
It debuted at #1 on the Billboard Reggae Album chart and at #24 on the Billboard Heatseekers/Top New Artist Album chart. Not that hard to understand since the album is a logical follow-up to his 2010 album Hold You, a set that featured his monster smash single of the same name, a tune that ruled the Caribbean airwaves in the same year and led to a remix with no other than Nicki Minaj.
Sex, Love & Reggae is a contemporary pop and R&B album with island influences – reggae, dancehall and soca. And it features several guest performences, including appearances by Angela Hunte, Bunji Garlin, Estelle, Melanie Fiona and Kes the Band. Included are also two covers – Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors and Gregory Isaac’s My Number One. Be Alright is not a cover, but it owes more than just a little to Maroon 5’s chart topping single She Will Be Loved.
The album shows a Gyptian that has changed a lot since his breakthrough hit Serious Times. The Rasta influences have given way to bling-bling, sex jams and bass boosted beats signed and sealed by co-producer Jerry “Wonda” Duplessis, known for cranking out hits for superstars such as Mary J. Blige, Lupe Fiasco and the Fugees.
The 17-track set features an eclectic mix of songs – from party starters like Non Stop, Wet Fete and the title track to affectionate bedroom ballads such as Wine Slow and Majestic Love. Gyptian is however at his very best when he showcases his desperate side in the militant I’m So and the haunting Good Girls.
An exciting and diverse set of crossover songs that will probably not go well will reggae purists.
Gyptian has probably scored the biggest reggae crossover tune in recent years. His smash hit Hold You has been on Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Chart as well as topping the Reggae Digital Songs chart for nine consecutive weeks.
His newly gained popularity also got him to join forces with Distant Relatives Nas & Damian Marley on tour this summer.
On top of all of this he drops his third album titled after his hit single.
Hold You – the album – will probably gain him further crossover success. This is basically a pop album with elements of reggae and contemporary R&B and dancehall, mostly electronic.
Gyptian and his producers are big fans of auto-tune, an audio processor whose main use is to correct pitch in vocal and instrumental performances. Here it’s used to distort the voice, which in many cases ruins the singer’s performance.
Gyptian can sing and doesn’t need auto-tune. However, I have a hard time coping with his voice. It’s nasal, hissing and too frail for my taste. Sometimes he sounds off key, when he’s actually not.
In the songs where Gyptian uses his voice from the chest it certainly sounds better, for instance the smooth lovers tune Rendezvous or the up-tempo Leave Us Alone on the Mad Mad rhythm, probably best know for Diseases by Michigan & Smiley.
He has been labeled as the “sexy rasta” and lyrics-wise this is a lovers rock album. In most songs he shows his love of women. But I want my lovers rock a bit more classic than this and instead I’ll listen to Romain Virgo or Sanchez. Those guys know lovers rock.
Gyptian’s chart topper Hold Yuh, with its addictive piano hook, has according to VP Records racked up 10 consecutive weeks at number one on Billboard’s Reggae Digital Songs chart, selling 95.000 downloads.
Such a hit song has of course rendered a lot of versions, ranging from Major Lazer’s electro sounding version through the hip-hop flavoured version with American rapper Nicki Minaj to the soca refix available on the album Soca Gold 2010. And last but not least, the answer tune, Hold Me, by Shani from St. Lucia in the Caribbean.
Now has Swedish singjay Joey Fever recorded a version entitled Sweetness 2010 produced by fellow Swede Partillo. Download Sweetness 2010 for free here.
Joey Fever did the huge Million Stylez combo Young Gunz last year with UK-based producer Curtis Lynch and is about to release his debut album Unleash It later this year. The debut is produced by Mastah L of Jamtech Foundation and you can download the title track here.