There’s much to like here, and with at least two hit singles on Sean Kingston,...
Angus Taylor 2007
Remember Eamon? The angry high pitched one-hit-wonder from Staten Island who married hip hop and doo wop for 2004 number one sentimental swear-fest "F**K It (I Don’t Want You Back)"? Well now Sean Kingston has taken the same ‘doo-hop’ template, added some reggae vibes, chucked out the cursing (he refuses to swear on principle) and stormed to the top of the singles chart too.
Ok, that’s lazy and unfair – Sean has way more going on than Eamon; his family has a strong reggae pedigree (his grandfather is Burning Spear producer, Jack Ruby) and on his eponymous debut he turns his hand to a bewildering mix of musical styles. Trouble is - that may be his downfall.
Anyone into Jamaican music will be familiar with the concept of laying new vocals over well-known instrumental tracks (or ‘rhythms’) and creating a completely different tune. Now via the ‘mashup’ culture this form has entered the mainstream and roughly a third of the album covers this territory.
And had he stuck to the ‘do-overs’ Sean Kingston could have been the ideal album to play at Christmas. The mixture of old classics, catchy hooks and no bad language would have the whole family nodding along between plays of Music To Watch Girls By. Gran will love the Ben E King bass-line on big hit “Beautiful Girls”, Dad’ll get down to the Phil Collins sampling “I Can Feel It”, and you can all laugh at your teenage brother’s exasperation at what Sean’s done to Led Zeppelin’s “D’Yer Maker” on second single “Me Love”.
Sadly, however, the desire to hit as many markets as possible means much of the remainder finds Sean as Fisher Price gangster on tracks like “Kingston”, “Take You There” and “Drummer Boy”. JR Rotem’s production is clean and shiny, while Sean’s voice sounds a bit like Collie Buddz - although that may be because they’ve both been processed into oblivion.
There’s much to like here, and with at least two hit singles on Sean Kingston, he’s no one-hit-wonder. But on the strength of this disunited debut, the future remains unclear.