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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

I Wayne

By Judson Kilpatrick
Published October 28, 2005

Lava Ground
VP VPCD1702

If you were near a radio during the past year, you probably heard “Can’t Satisfy Her” (“She needs more wood for the fire”), I Wayne’s smash single about the dangers of prostitution. The juxtaposition of the chilling lyrics and I Wayne’s melodious alto is irresistible, and the song became one of the biggest crossover hits of the year, one of the only roots-style songs ever played on “urban” stations. Thankfully, this debut lives up to that song’s promise. “Lava Ground” floats battlefield imagery over a light, sweet track. The hit “Living In Love,” which introduced the popular Hard Times rhythm, boasts an innocent title, but is packed with graphic anti-war statements. Meanwhile, the music is full of classic reggae references. “Don’t Worry” borrows its melody from Bob Marley’s “Waiting In Vain,” “Touch Her Softly” adapts the bass line of Dennis Brown’s “Revolution” and “Nah Draw Nil” is built out of pieces of Gregory Isaacs’ “Number One.” With such accessible rhythms and powerful lyrics, I Wayne is the most promising roots-and-culture singer to come along since the late Garnett Silk.