Book Of Life
I Wayne
VP Records-Groove Attack
November 6, 2007

Track list
  1. Book Of Life
  2. Words Of Liberation
  3. Free The People
  4. Annihilation feat. Icoflamez a.k.a. Kiddy Famous
  5. Smart Attack
  6. Life Is Easy
  7. Need Her In I Arms
  8. No Vanity Love
  9. Jealousy And Abuse feat. Lady G
  10. Good Enough
  11. Politics & Religion
  12. No Unnecessary War
  13. Money Dem A Run Down
  14. Could A Never feat. Iniball
  15. Dart To Them Heart feat. Deva Brat
  16. Natural Ites feat. Iyah V
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Essential -Votes: 35-
Very Good -Votes: 17-
Good -Votes: 13-
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Total votes : 65
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4/5
Roots and culture artists have long been a constant in Jamaica, from the influence of legends like Bob Marley to conscious dancehall singers like Garnet Silk. However, in the summer of 2004 a new and powerfully distinct voice emerged on the reggae music scene. With a fresh timbre, substantive lyrics, and a passionate performance, this singer almost single handedly led a new wave of roots and culture reggae music that swept the island of Jamaica. I Wayne, born Cliffroy Taylor in the working class Kingston suburb of Portmore, Jamaica, officially hit the international scene with his #1 hit "Can't Satisfy Her", the first track by a cultural reggae artist to be added to Hot 97 in New York, a station noted for its hip hop preference. The tune then caught on in several markets and spent over 22 weeks on the Billboard Hip Hop/R&B Hot 100 chart. I Wayne followed up that firey description of a desperate Jamaican reality comprised of prostitution, poverty, and sexually transmitted diseases with "Living in Love" on the Stephen 'Gibbo' Gibbs and Errol Thompson-produced 'Hard Times'-riddim. It may seem as if I Wayne suddenly burst onto the scene, but the 28 year old has been refining his craft since age 7. Coming from a musical family, it's not surprising that I Wayne's first performance venture with local group Vibes Machine took place when he was a student at Greater Portmore High School. The collective of singers and DJs performed at afterwork parties held at popular Kingston clubs like Cactus and Asylum, until one night, when his bandmates were late, and I Wayne was forced to take the stage alone. The response was tremendous, so he perfected his solo act, incorporating his keen appreciation for singers like Sade, Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Marcia Griffiths, Beres Hammond, and Sizzla Kalonji, into his developing style and honing his craft by chanting DJ style with local sound systems like Diamond Cruise and The Legend, as well as performing at Garveymeade, an annual Portmore event held on December 24th for the past 10 years. His distinctively fluid yet controlled vocals won him a record deal with VP Records in 2004, and his debut album, "Lava Ground", hit stores in the summer of 2005. It yielded two hit singles, "Can't Satisfy Her" and "Living in Love", as well as the critically praised title track. Slipping and sliding through the higher notes of the scales with a jazz singer's assurance and a reggae chanter's rough-riding rhythmic sensibilities, I Wayne's meteroic rise and his lyrical gift for piercing the veils that cloak Babylonian hypocrisies sparked a new wave of enthusiasm among the industry for this young generation of roots and culture singers and songwriters and eager anticipation for his second set, "The Book of Life".

This album is aiming, in the words of Neil Edwards, the project's executive producer, "For the past year, a lot of artists have been glorifying death and destruction, so I Wayne flipped that and focused on life." With the beautiful title track (also released as first single of this album) "Book Of Life" opening this album as a personal statement of what this album is all about over a great soulful laid-back one drop riddim produced by Imran 'Fire Peter' Passard & John 'FX' Crawford for their Solar Hit Music, this album kicks off with its best tune. Not that there aren't more gems included, but this is such a fabulous tune ... This is followed by "Words Of Liberation" a little but strong speech, not by I Wayne, but by former NYC DJ/producer and remixer (a.o. for Big Audio Dynamite, Inner City, C&C Music Factory and Janet Jackson) and current Promotions Director of VP Records Rich Lamotte and a great take across the Abyssinians 'Satta'-riddim, produced for the label that 'discovered' and 'nurtured' I Wayne early in his career and on which his first hit "Can't Satisfy Her" appeared, Loyal Soldiers by Patrick Henry, the excellent "Free The People" and the stunning combination with labelmate Icoflamez a.k.a. Kiddie Famous, whose chants blends perfect with I Wayne distinctive voice over this wonderful relick with great Nyahbinghi drums.

Then I Wayne surprises (at least expect so) all listeners with his magnificent "Smart Attack" over Steely & Clevie's (pure dancehall) 'Hill Top'-riddim (a remake of 1998's 'Black Widow'-riddim) before switching back to great roots backing on Main Frame's 'Medaillon'-riddim for the wonderful Richard Mahabeer produced "Life Is Easy", another upful celebration of life. The great and sweet Don Corleon produced lovers tune "Need Her In Arms" (that was also featured on this year's "Reggae Gold" release by VP Records) precedes the wicked Billy Zee production "No Vanity Love" over a magnificent riddim laid by Sly & Robbie and the most unusual combination of this album, resulting in the very strong tune about domestic violence "Jealousy And Abuse" alongside Lady G over a riddim that sounds inspired by Sade's "Sweetest Taboo". Then I Wayne for producer Mighty Mike pays tribute (not lyrically, but musically) to one of reggae's greats, the living legend, maybe not often enough hailed Burning Spear, using his 'Call On You'-riddim for the mighty "Good Enough".

Loyal Soldiers' Patrick Henry hired Sly & Robbie alongside Ansel Collins on keyboards and Mitchum 'Khan' Chin for the powerful live-backing of the magnificent "Politics And Religion", followed by the equally excellent "No Unnecessary War" over Rootical's 'Grass Roots'-riddim and "Money Dem A Run Down" produced by Voice Stream Productions' Dwight Heslop over a revived Gregory Isaacs riddim, probably the least impressive track of the album.

"Could A Never" alongside Iniball is the first fine combination of the three to close this album, with Vybz Kartel protégé Deva Brat next stepping up for the impressive "Dart To Them Heart" over Frenz' 'Dart'-riddim before this extremely impressive sophomore album "Book Of Life" is brought to a close when labelmate Iyah V joins I Wayne for the super "Natural Ites" over Loyal Soldiers 'Disturbance'-riddim. This album might be less accessible than I Wayne's debut album "Lava Ground" because of its deepness, in the end it is at least as strong if not better.