Lava Ground
I Wayne
VP Records
October 12, 2005

Track list
  1. Life Seeds
  2. Lava Ground
  3. Rastafari Liveth
  4. More Life
  5. Bleacher
  6. Don't Worry
  7. Mama And Papa feat. Fire Chess
  8. Nah Draw Nil
  9. Touch Her Softly
  10. Ready Fi Live Up
  11. Kid Artist
  12. Living In Love
  13. Conquer feat. Fire Star
  14. Can't Satisfy Her - Prelude
  15. Can't Satisfy Her
  16. Grow Proper
  17. Cool As The Breeze
  18. Keep Burning Rome feat. Harmony
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4 Backing : 5 Production : 4 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4
"Lava Ground" is the debut set from Rastafarian singer I Wayne, from Portmore Jamaica, a young artist who has scored hits with singles such as the title track "Lava Ground" as well as "Living In Love" and "Can't Satisfy Her". The unique sound of I Wayne's reedy vocals belie the strong messages and social consciousness of his lyrics. He is not afraid to express his views and many of the tracks are based around themes such as prostitution, abortion and even skin-bleaching. Commendably, and perhaps a little surprisingly for an artist of whom big things are predicted, there is no attempt to get a host of collaborations with established reggae names and only three tracks feature guest vocals. However vast experience is provided to the backing from the likes of Mikey Chung on guitar, Dean Fraser on saxophone and Robbie Shakespeare on bass and the quality one would hope for from such names is apparent throughout.

Unfortunately the album gets off to a sluggish start. "Life Seeds" is too relaxed a track to kick things off with any authority, nor is it a worthy indication of what's to follow. "Rastafari Liveth", despite the wailing rock guitars, is bland and the track which follows, "More Life," is too light a riddim on which I Wayne's delicate voice makes little impression. Luckily sandwiched in between these weaker tracks is the hit tune and title track "Lava Ground" which achieves the right balance between the backing and I Wayne's vocals to create one of the strongest and most enjoyable cuts on the album.

The album then picks up considerably with the more classic-reggae oriented style of "Don't Worry", "Mama and Papa" (ft. Fire Chess) and "Nah Draw Nil" all well suited to I Wayne's voice. Of these three "Mama And Papa" is one of my favourite tracks from the album: a catchy chorus, outstanding backing vocals and the extra dimension added by Fire Chess's chatting make a stand-out track. The singles "Living In Love" on the Hard-Times Riddim and "Can't Satisfy Her," despite having been around for a while, still sound as fantastic as ever and are shining examples of the quality I Wayne is capable of producing.

Although I Wayne's high-pitched style can become a little tiresome toward the end the album stops before this becomes a real issue and what we are left with is a strong collection of conscious reggae tunes. I Wayne has an appealing distinctive sound and this debut demonstrates the kind of quality roots music we can expect from this hotly tipped artist for many years to come. Overall this is a very welcome and refreshing roots album.