Art And Life
Beenie Man
Virgin Records

Track list
  1. Haters And Fools featuring Mr. Easy
  2. Ola featuring Steve Perry of the Cherry Poppin Daddies
  3. Love Me Now (Rockwilder Remix) featuring Wyclef and Redman
  4. Girls Dem Sugar featuring Mya
  5. Original Tune (Remix) featuring Big Red
  6. Jamaica Way featuring Kelis
  7. Love Me Now featuring Wyclef
  8. Art And Life
  9. Analyze This
  10. Heights Of Great Men
  11. 9 To 5
  12. Trus Me
  13. Tumble (La Gaida)featuring Arturo Sandoval
  14. Some Tonight featuring Devonte & Tanto Metro
  15. The Best That I Got
  16. I've Got A Date
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 4 Production : 4 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4
The first lines from "I've Got A Date" probably best express Beenie Man's main intentions regarding the release of "Art And Life", his first album for Virgin Records. "What I'm trying to say... I wanna make the international public understand what I'm trying... trying to get across to the world."
And indeed, regarding the tunes that are gathered on this album, it is obvious that "the Doctor" aims at a far broader audience. Musical styles range from Jamaican Dancehall ("Heights Of Great Men") to Hip-Hop ("Love Me Now") to R&B ("Girls Dem Sugar") to Latin ("Tumble") - and, of course, a fusion of styles is included as well - with Beenie Man seemingly effortless switching between rapping, deejaying, rapping and singing. Guest appearences from artists like Wyclef Jean, Redman, Arturo Sandoval, Mya, Kelis, Steve Perry, Big Red (a French DJ) and Devonte & Tanto Metro underline Beenie Man's move and ambitions. The album opener is the Dave Kelly produced combination song "Haters And Fools", delivered across the "Clone" riddim, the only track on this album to have been released on a single in Jamaica. The same goes for the wicked "Heights Of Great Men", for which Beenie Man utilizes the "Bellyas" riddim to full effect. Other fine hardcore Dancehall/Ragga efforts are the wicked "Analyze This" (produced by Steely & Clevie), "Trus Me" (produced by Tony "CD" Kelly) and "9 To 5" (another Dave Kelly produced tune). The infectious, danceable combination tune "Some Tonight" ia another Dancehall related piece which proves very entertaining. Truly impressive is the nyabinghi inspired title track "Art And Life", reminiscent of the Bobby Digital produced "Kette Drum" from the mid-nineties. Tracks like "Love Me Now" (featuring Wyclef Jean), "Tumble (La Caida)" - featuring the great Latin trumpeter Artoro Sandoval, whose soloing is accompanied by a fast-flowing Beenie Man rap in Spanish - and "I've Got A Date" - incorporating a sample of Alvertis Isbell's soul hit "I'll Take You There" - are entertaining enough to spin them more than once, although they not exactly serve our musical taste. The tracks "Jamaica Way" and "Girls Dem Sugar" can be regarded as remakes of Beenie Man's former smash hits "Who Am I" and "Girls Them Sugar", here delivered over soft hip hop beats.
In the history of Reggae/Dancehall music we have had artists like Richie Stephens, Freddie McGregor, Shabba Ranks and more recently Bounty Killer, all trying to break big on the international "crossover" market. Beenie Man is the latest Jamaican star and will certainly not be the last. Whether he will succeed where others failed, who knows? However, his grassroots fans don't have to be afraid that "The King Of Dancehall" will forget them, as is already expressed through the almost simultaneous JA release of "Trendsetter".