Dancehall is not just a genre of music - it is a colourful culture all on its own, carrying its own tenets, fashion, language and lifestyle. There are many notable musicians within the subculture, many of whom have recognized mainstream success outside of dancehall, but Beenie Man sits somewhere at the top of the list.
At first glance The Greatest Gallis EP seems to be a lot of the same narrative typical to dancehall but expressed with the musician’s innate originality. The compilation is by no means a family album but albums in the dancehall genre rarely are.
His label has already released "I Know" and "Greatest Gallis" as the lead singles. The latter carries a music video that manages to capture the raw and unapologetic sexual energy that is embraced in dancehall culture without the excessiveness that too many other dancehall acts rely on.
At the pinnacle of the album is "Boom Wine", a track that could have only come from Beenie Man. The song has a refreshingly light beat dedicated to the artiste's extensive female following.
As one would expect from the title of the EP, most of the songs are about women and womanizing - another prevalent aspect of dancehall culture. The only song that escapes the main plot is the happy-go-lucky "My Life so Happy". The track features a brief call-to-arms where the artistes invites listeners to join him in singing a sequence of "Yeah ho's", which at first sounds a silly and unnecessary coming from “the girls dem sugar” but captures perfectly the carefree vibe of the song. Beenie Man here underlines the more relaxed and innocent side of dancehall and the fun music video accompanying the song follows suit with comedic relief that wards off any attempt to take the song (and Beenie Man) too seriously.
The flow of the album is steady but never monotonous. The dancehall patriarch manages to toast dancehall culture sans the hyper-violent lyrics and excessive profanity.
The second track, "Truck Load", sounds like a contemporary spin on the musician's '90s hit, "Nuff Gyal". In fact, Beenie Man preserves a lot of old school elements on the album but also manages to incorporate a touch of modern flavour with songs like "Serious (Money Pon You)".
The Greatest Gallis EP is not a crossover album and it's not meant to be. The compilation is meant for the dancehall metropolis and true fans of the genre.
Let's face it, the Grammy award winner is no stranger to the mainstream music landscape, having already released an array of hits including collaborations with artistes across the board from Lady Saw and Third World to the likes of Janet Jackson, Mya, The Neptunes and Wyclef Jean. His new release also features two great vocal collaborations in "Greatest Gallis", which features dancehall's pop icon, Sean Paul and in the final track, "Sneaky". "Sneaky" features Kali - a seemingly obscure, but talented new vocalist - who carries off the tete-a-tete style of the songs chorus.
The Greatest Gallis EP features Beenie Man again at his best and in his element. It may not be his magnum opus but it could spell another notch of success on the dancehall veteran's figurative belt. Whether or not the EP is a prelude to a full studio album to come soon is uncertain but for now the short compilation will have to be enough for eager fans. What is clear is that the king of dancehall has decreed the beginning of a new era in his prolific career.
1. My Life So Happy
2. Truck Load
3. I Know
5. Spend A Money
6. Boom Wine
7. Greatest Gallis feat. Sean Paul