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Shenseea - Alpha Music Album Reviews

Shenseea - Alpha Music Album Reviews
Blending dancehall with pop-rap, 1980s soul, and 2000s R&B, the Jamaican singer’s full-length debut makes a flashy play for the mainstream.

After six years of releasing singles, Shenseea’s full-length debut is here, and lo and behold, it’s a real singles album. The Jamaican singer (born Chinsea Lee) delivers 14 fully formed songs with polished production values, sticky hooks, and a few gimmicks. Not every song on Alpha will crack the Hot 100, but it’s easy to imagine that was Shenseea’s ambition each time she stepped into the booth.

Shenseea’s early music had a certain edge to it: Take 2016’s “Jiggle Jiggle,” where rasping synths, hard-edged drum machines, and Shenseea’s raps in Jamaican patois fused into a sweltering dancehall jam. Since then, her unusual journey to pop stardom has routed her through collaborations with artists as far apart as Vybz Kartel and Christina Aguilera, and she received a visibility bump with two guest appearances on Kanye West’s Donda. Alpha blends dancehall with pop-rap, 1980s soul, and 2000s R&B to form a commercially palatable (in the U.S. and Europe) form of Caribbean music. Rihanna is Shenseea’s most obvious analog, but you might also detect the chart-conquering reggae of Chaka Demus & Pliers and Shaggy. Halfway through the album, we get back-to-back tracks featuring Beenie Man and Sean Paul, two of dancehall’s biggest crossover stars. You can imagine the pair arriving at the studio with a specific remit: to guide Shenseea into the mainstream.

Of course, the quickest possible route is to simply jump on a fashionable sound. Shenseea recruits Megan Thee Stallion to make the very Megan Thee Stallion-like single “Lick.” Thankfully, it’s very good: With sparse electronic elements and extremely explicit lyrics, “Lick” is an obvious sister of “WAP.” Less impressive is “R U That,” where 21 Savage’s haunted-ship-through-the-fog vocals make an odd choice for the role of Shenseea’s would-be romantic beau. And the album is inexplicably bookended by unimpressive guest spots from Tyga. Closer “Blessed” was first released in 2019, but if Shenseea wanted to include tracks from her vast archives, she certainly had more exciting options.

Then there’s “Hangover,” which compares a doomed relationship to the knowledge that a night of drinking is going to leave you with a sore head. This concept, as well as the chipped acoustic guitar chords that don’t really go anywhere, might have been better left unheard. Most experiments do succeed, though, like the trippy ratchet-pop of “Bouncy,” featuring Offset. “Body Count,” produced by Scott Storch and Illa, features moody, ’80s-style synths that draw out Shenseea’s smokiest performance. And she’s an effective vocalist, switching from rapping to singing—or finding a pocket somewhere between the two—with confidence and control. Over the rocksteady-style guitar of “Lying If I Call It Love,” Shenseea summarizes an ongoing fling with enjoyable brevity: “Him fuck me confident/But I’m proceeding with caution.” Her vocal assuredness allows her to carry a risqué bar like “My pum-pum the tightest/My pum-pum-boom-boom-boom” without flinching.

A high point comes on “Deserve It,” a svelte love song that works off a plucked string loop that recalls ’00s UK garage and a syrupy vocal reminiscent of Christina Milian or Mýa. “You make me feel so welcome/And you so damn handsome,” Shenseea sings softly in a more region-neutral style. It’s far removed from Shenseea, the blistering dancehall phenom—but Shenseea, the rising pop star, made the commercially minded album she needed. Once its cycle is complete, more interesting terrain may lie further from the demands of the industry.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Shenseea - Alpha Music Album Reviews Shenseea - Alpha Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Monday, March 28, 2022 Rating: 5

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