VP Records-Walboomers Music
April 2, 2004
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4||Backing : 4||Production : 4||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4|
Dancehall chanteuse Tanya Stephens - born Vivienne Stephenson on July 2, 1973 - was one of the most promising female dancehall reggae artists to emerge in the nineties. Her Barry O'Hare produced debut album "Big Things A Gwaan" was released by RUNNetherlands in 1994, but it was in 1996 that Tanya caught her big break, when her ladies anthem, "Yuh Nuh Ready Fi Dis Yet," caused quite a stir. She began working with such acclaimed producers as Bobby "Digital" Dixon, Harvel "Gadaffi" Hart, and Dave and Tony Kelly, which led to the release of well-received singles such as "Draw Fi Mi Finger", "Freaky Type", "Goggle", "Handle The Ride" and "Cry and Bawl," as well as the full-length VP releases "Too Hype" in 1997 and "Ruff Rider" a year later. In recent times Tanya has been enjoying a resurgence in popularity due to having impressed the reggae audience with single releases like e.g. "Itís A Pity" on Germaicanís "Doctor's Darling" riddim, and the acoustic reality chants "What A Day" for Xterminator and the Andrew Henton produced "The Other Cheek". And now there's Tanya's much anticipated new album entitled "Gangsta Blues". The latter is the culmination of two years work and chronicles the travails of a thinking woman in a male dominated culture. The album fully shows that Tanya Stephens is a "lyrical-sharpshooter" and a force to be reckoned with on the dancehall reggae scene. "Gangsta Blues" can be regarded as a concept album on which she addresses the ups and downs of relationships and social concerns from a femaleís perspective. In contrast to the lyrical content of most of the tracks included on her previous albums it's obvious that Tanya has broadened her focus and has covered new ground as she breaks away from the pervasive themes associated with dancehall and reggae music (i.e. anti-gay, dancing, rastafarianism, dictation of sexual behavior, etc.). Although this collection of tunes features some previously released singles the bulk of the material included here are fresh tracks. One of the standout tracks is "Little White Lie", addressing the issue of pregnancy and a phenomenon which, in colloquial terms, is referred to as a "jacket". In other words, a woman becomes pregnant and knowingly names the wrong man as the father because she feels it is in the best interest of the child. Further outstanding efforts are "Itís A Pity", the provocative anthem for a lust driven society, "What's Your Story", the moving "Can't Breathe", and "What A Day", a world-weary lament laced with insightful lyrics over acoustic guitar accompaniment. Furthermore you'll also find such entertaining tracks as "Way Back", the combined effort of Tanya and Wyclef Jean, of Fugees fame, entitled "This Is Love", the duet with Spragga Benz, "Gangsta Gal". and the thoughtful "The Other Cheek".