Tuesday, July 26, 2011

'Stainless': A Review of "Jamaicanization" by Ce'Cile

When we take in the concept of longevity, in reference to Reggae music and music in general, there are a great deal of lines of thought which can be started at that point. In life, longevity can mean something as 'simple' as . . . Hanging around for ninety years or so, even without really doing too much or leaving anything for anyone to remember you by and in music, in some ways, it can be similar. However, generally speaking, the term has an almost immediate linkage with "great" or some other grand descriptor, because in music, 'sticking around', usually means that you're doing something and something significant at the same time. Still, the piece of the longevity pie that we’re specifically going to deal with today is, at least in my opinion, far more interesting and ripe than staying musically inclined and involved for so many years and definitely much more so than some old ass man sitting on their couch, not doing anything - Durability. What does it mean to be 'musically durable'? And specifically what does it mean in the genre of Reggae music? This word may have immediate ties to others such as 'tough' and other kind of grimy conditions, and that’s also fitting in this case, isn't it? When you think of someone being durable in Reggae and Dancehall music, who're some of the first names that come to mind? For me, again with the connection to "tough" and the likes, I have people like a Jah Mason or a Natural Black, or Ras Shiloh and maybe even Kiprich. These are artists who have spent the vast majorities of their respective careers outside of the greatest light that the genre has to offer someone who makes the type of music that they do, but have surely scored their fair share of hits along the way. Going back a little further, maybe we look at someone like a Tony Rebel or Shaggy as well. Musical durability and STURDINESS, for me, is shown by not only the ability of, but the displaying of an artist that he or she can maintain their place in the music and do so across a substantial period of time, in the face of not only a changing cast of 'characters' on the scene, but in the face of changing vibes as well. Today we look at someone who has, 'quietly' done just that for a career-length's of time and has made it look better (literally), than probably any of their predecessor’s or peers.

"Badgyal" - 2008

Enter Ce'Cile (I’m sure there're a hundred WONDERFUL jokes I could make right here) (. . . and I’m just as sure that they'd all likely get me in trouble) (biggup my Wife). Ce'Cile has always been someone who has definitely had a great deal of talk surrounding her career for various reasons, but when you actually begin to dig into what she's done - It is just that - a matter of what she's done, which is to succeed just about anywhere her musical travels have taken her. From the days working with Iley Dread and company at Kings of Kings, to Scatta and through the time with Danger Zone and up to now, she's kept very fine company has seemingly picked up experience at ever stop. The result of which is someone who, although you’ll rarely hear her discussed in such terms (by anyone but me), is well in the process of establishing quite a legacy for herself as, although perhaps somewhat quietly compared to some of her more 'flashy' peers, more DURABLE and stable than all of them. She hasn't had such an outstanding shift in her career, in terms of sound (if you played me a Ce'Cile tune from today a decade ago, I don't think I'd be SHOCKED, by what I was hearing). She's pretty much been the same in her approve, although substantially improved, the entire time which places her in very . . . Odd company and is, perhaps, just as strangely refreshing as well.

Currently, one could argue that Ce'Cile is not only at the heights of her powers musically, but one could say the same of her popularity, which is also quite remarkable and because of that, her output is going to receive a far-reaching look and listen. Speaking of popularity, one should definitely take in the fact that Ce'Cile's most recent album, "Worth It" (I think that was her last album), was, reportedly, one of the biggest sellers of all time from the digital monster which released it back in 2009, the dominant Zojak Worldwide. So if she were to . . . maybe to release another album - Not only would it be a very welcomed addition to Reggae shelves across the planet, but it'd also be much anticipated by fans of the artist's just as globally spread. Well, that's just what she’s doing with her brand new album, the curious and SLEEK "Jamaicanization". The album comes through German label, Kingstone with Rolf Radny as the executive producer (as well as Zojak Worldwide, again, on the digital side), who also did release a previous album of the Reggae diva's, the semi-eponymous "Badgyal" [pictured] and with whom she has been recording for years (along with producer Benjamin Bazzazian). I don't actually know how many albums she has now, I would guess this release would make approximately six or so, but really, even on paper, what it does is to really capture her, as I said, in the midst of one of the greatest stretches of her entire career. Having begun to voice consistently with super-producer Don Corleon and just really pushing some of her finest work over the past two or three years, Ce'Cile is one of the hottest names (and bodies) (and faces) in Reggae and Dancehall today. And if you haven't noticed, albums from top notch Dancehall acts these days are pretty much dinosaurs (unless I'm forgetting someone, the only such project that 2011 has given us thus far was "Kingston Story" from Vybz Kartel), so any bit of help could not only be of help to a particular artist, but perhaps the entire genre as well, so coming from one of the best with an album that should sell well, who knows what it could do. Of course, all of that is contingent upon the album being good and although it's not revolutionary or 'ground-breaking', "Jamaicanization" is an album which is virtually guaranteed to please longtime fans of Ce'Cile and it also proves to be one of the most entertaining albums of 2011. Let's listen.

'Singing This Song' digital single - In stores now

The album features a blend of older and well known singles and new songs which don’t deviate too much from Ce'Cile's sagaciously proven winning formula (maybe she planned it all???), so, again, older fans are definitely going to enjoy it and her style is one which has always been very accessible and pretty much anything she does won't have a difficult time attracting new listeners if they get a good sampling of it. Surely this album is no exception. Following an intro from Rory of the immortal Stone Love, the first full tune to be heard on Ce'Cile's COOL new album, "Jamaicanization", is also one of its highlights, the silky smooth and romantic 'Where You Want Me'. This one is new to me and I suspect it'll also be new to most who lay ears on it opening this album and 99.9% of them are sure to be impressed by what they hear. On love songs, Ce'Cile has a history of mixing the more 'candid' with the more subtle and this is one of the latter of those two and coming from someone who scored heavily with 'Anything' (a song which probably helped to make a lot of babies), not too long ago - anything on that vibes, she's liable to do extremely well with as Ce'Cile continues to do her part in building the population. She continues the sonic goodness and arguably tops herself, with a similar tune, on the next track in, the well spun and LOYAL 'When You’re Gone', Ce'Cile's stunning cut of the just as gorgeous Cardiac Bass Riddim. Although I haven't spent much time with this song over the year or so from when it was released, it has become one of those songs that you just like SO MUCH when you hear it, probably because you haven't overplayed it. It's easily one of the best tunes on the album and it’s my Wife's favourite tune on the album altogether. Rounding out the opening for "Jamaicanization" is the album's official first single, the KNOCKING 'Singing This Song' [pictured]. Another one! Although not terribly dissimilar from the two tracks which precede it on the album, this one has a bit of a bite to it, as it finds Ce'Cile espousing the virtues of the special man in her life (and that riddim from Bazzazian is evil).

'When You're Gone'

'Woot Woot'

While it's not surprising that none of Ce'Cile's hits with Don Corleon made the album (his songs just don't often appear on albums that other people do) (perhaps he could do his own album for Ce'Cile???), the known material here is still some of her biggest and most popular from over the past couple of years. For example, there's the infectious 'Woot Woot' which was a decent sized point on the big Smokin' Riddim. More infections (you should really get that checked out) on more big riddims - Also on "Jamaicanization" is 'Nah Stress Over Man' on the Street Bullies Riddim from out of Big Yard (you know you have a HUGE riddim when you can have Ce'Cile, Shaggy, Kartel and ALISON HINDS on it and all do very well). Everything on that riddim was gold and Ce'Cile had one of the better tunes, which is definitely saying something big. Good luck getting 'Step Aside' out of your head any time soon after hearing it. The song, with its "beep beep", may just be the most captivating on the entire album (particularly according to my Daughter), and it's also one of the most skillful as Ce'Cile goes almost complete straight deejaying throughout the track. Let me not forget to mention just how versatile she can be, between being a very effective DJ and also having a vocal range which, I don't know if we've STILL ever heard the full strength of. And the final selection on the album which is familiar (at least to me) is the aggressively inspirational 'Gwane Live Life' from last year.

“So live it up
Gwaan live it up
Buss di champagne, if ah dat you waan buss
Love who you waan love
Trust who you waan trust
One live you haffi live -
If you ah sleep, wake up!
And gwaan live it up
Gwaan live it up
Keep your head above water
Stay conscious
Nuh mek people negativity mash you up
Memba put God inna everything you do and bless HIM up!”

“People wi haffi live fi today
Cah none a wi no sure bout tomorrow
Di only ting wi know fi sure ah seh wi deh yah now, no put it pon hold
Di money and di cars and di fame -
No haffi come, none at all, so you shouldn’t -
Ah live yah whole life just ah wait fi yah life fi start nah too smart”

BOOM! It's probably Ce'Cile's best lyrical display on "Jamaicanization" as she gives us all a bit of advice that I'm going to begin to take very shortly - Get off your fat asses and do something! Powerful tune.

'Gwane Live Life'

And then there's the new stuff! Three tracks here, in particular, stand out on paper for me and they'll do the same for everyone else, I'm sure, because they're the three combinations for the album and one of them, to my opinion, is the best moment to be had here. First I'll mention the final of the three, sequentially, on the album, 'Wicked & Wild' which features Ce'Cile alongside European superstar, the wildly talented Million Stylez. I guess we can call this one a somewhat (not fully) Hip-Hoppish track, but that riddim is SO damn obese that I don't even like Hip-Hop and it full caught my attention (another Bazzazian production). That song is a HIT, all it needs is an opportunity and that'll be a LOCK! Stylez has also been flaming as of late and the two produce a damaging tune together. The most expected of the trio is obviously 'Sweetness' which features the also scalding Christopher Martin in a kind of 'neo-duet' of sorts. These two are very good friends, this isn't their first tune together and it probably won’t be their final and with results like this, you can see (hear) why - They have a very strong musical chemistry. Still, with all of that being said, I have to say that THE tune I had my eyes on when I first saw the tracklist for "Jamaicanization" was 'Hey' because it featured Ce'Cile alongside another of my favourites, the always brilliant Agent Sasco, and not only did it not disappoint on any level, it also proved to be my choice as the albums absolute finest moment. Call it infectious, call it romantic, call it whatever it you like - It's HUGE and both are in excellent form on a song which keeps heads swaying throughout its duration.

“Hey, baby girl I wanna hear you say -
My name - When mi hold you I mold you like clay
Mi mek you rail up like a big tune ah play
An like, seh mi deh pon di stage and deejay
Give you love inna professional way
Wi chemistry is like a fireworks display
So when wi link up, it’s like New Year’s Day


Love everything about that song and I'm damn looking forward to the reaction to it on a combination which is really long overdue! BOOM!

The remaining new selections on "Jamaicanization" have their moments as well. 'Up On The Dancefloor' is exactly what you think it is, but it's a good version of that clear for-the-dance track and one which, again, should be pretty hard to pry out of your head. 'OK Without You' (you try going back and forth between those tunes like I just did and notice the HUGE shift in styles between the two) is another very interesting track and one which has grown on me quite a bit from the first time I heard it, HOWEVER, its Reggae-fied RMX is what more caught my attention. It's gorgeous and features Ce'Cile pushing her aforementioned range just a bit (sounding a little Zouk-ish at times actually) (biggup Yann Sélo). On that same note (in its sound) is 'Exclusive' which finds our star ready to settle down and go exclusive with her special man. I love the way she sets the tune up and I fully expect this one to be one of the more overlooked tracks on the album, but it is a song which adds to the full enjoyable experience of it. In terms of its subject matter, 'Cheater' isn't too difficult to figure out, but the sound is a well fascinating one. A bubbly (literally) one-drop backs the tune and it may be one of the best compositions on the whole of the album. Ce'Cile, for her part, also switches up the delivery a bit, going almost melodic Spoken Word on a downright DAZZLING track in so many ways. Speaking of dazzling, check 'Want More', which goes through several different moods between verses and choruses and somewhere in all of the madness is a nice tune! Finally, on a tune marked "iTunes Bonus" (although I have the liner notes and its credits are included there, which means that it may show up on the actual disc) Ce'Cile tells all that, if the situation calls for it - Take matters into your own hands and 'Touch Yourself'. Uhmmm . . . I don't think I need to go into it anymore than that (if you don't hurt anyone, do whatever you like!) - So I'll let Ce'Cile do it for me!

“I get myself so horny -
Doing the naughty
If I was a man, hell yeah -
I woulda want me
Don’t need nobody fi appreciate mi body
Me, myself and I a just a private party
Boyfriend gone -
Mi waiting too long
Now yah ready fi di pleasure, shouldn’t haffi hold on
Control yah weather
Gyal learn how fi fly and start tun it on”


Two things quickly. First of all, this album is immaculate as far as how it is presented. Not only are the liners expressive of the album's title - Complete with full random facts about the country and obviously the great colours - and clearly Kingstone has taken full advantage of who they have. Who do they have? That's point two! Besides being a talented artist (and everything that encompasses), Ce'Cile is EXTREMELY attractive. She's been our choice, twice, as the Sexiest Caribbean Artist and she (always) looks damn good here - She obviously has a mirror in her house and is aware of this fact - and she's never been too shy about showing it off [thankfully]. And also check the kind of commentary Ce'Cile (presumably it’s her) leaves on some of the tunes as well.

Durability isn't the first thing that comes to mind
Well maybe it is . . .
I'll shut up now

Overall, we have a winner. Again, I'm trying to say that this is the greatest album of all time or anything like that, but what you have here is, after years and years of doing it, Ce'Cile is still succeeding by doing what she does best. And it isn't formulaic, mechanical and definitely not stale, but it is what works for her. And because of that, just about anyone who picks up "Jamaicanization" has a very good chance to enjoy it. As a hardcore fan of the music (and a fan of Ce'Cile's as well), the music isn't too far out of the range of its center that it becomes diluted with mixing in other genres, but at the same time it should be pretty damn accessible to fans of quite a few different genres. After alllllll of these years, with all of these artists coming and going and 'reinventing' themselves and doing a variety of different things to stay current - Ce'Cile has not only existed and withstood the 'test of time', but has also thriven by being what she’s always shown herself to be throughout her career: Talented. On an album that’s never been more apparent than on "Jamaicanization" - Probably the best album from one of the Dancehall's sturdiest figures in a very long time. Well done.

Rated: 4.35/5
Kingston Records/Zojak Worldwide
CD + Digital
Ce'Cile @ Myspace
Ce'Cile @ Facebook

Review #328

1 comment:

  1. Its sure is a sexy release. This post really encouraged me to buy the physical CD and not just the download.
    Blessing Achis