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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Album Review: Wayne&Wax's Boston Jerk

The first thought you may have when you throw on this record is "What is this slightly odd-sounding white-boy from Boston doing making Jamaican music? Is he some sort of cultural fetishist?" Dig a little deeper and you'll see you aren't the only one asking the question.

The whole project is sort of a meditation on this idea, complete with interludes of Wayne interviewing his Jamaican guest MC's. You have got to give him some respect for actually moving to Jamaica for 6 months to make this album. Most other outsiders who dabble with dub/ska/reggae/ragga stylings do it from the comfort of their own homes, their only exposure to the culture they worship being Red Stripe lager, jerk chicken, and piles of dub recordings.

Wayne&Wax, AKA Wayne Marshall is a DJ, Producer and Ethno-Musicologist living in Boston, hence the word play in the title of the album. Some of you in the faithfull PTR reading masses may recognize W&W's name from his blog, which several of us around here read obsessively. Definitely one of the most thoughtful music blogs around.

The album wanders stylistically between found sound, cut 'n' paste, hip hop, ragga and grime. More often than not, it works. Here are a couple standout tracks:
  • Ready for the road: This track is an interesting blend of trip-hop creepiness with ragga energy and cool. I challenge you to not get the western-movie strings and whistling stuck in your head.

  • A It Dat: This is clearly the big dancefloor single of the album. Wayne's rhymes are tight, and his guest MCs bring that ragga vocal stylee that we love so well. The beat really typifies what so great about this new generation of techno/dub/hip-hop stylistic mixings, its has all the smart punchiness of a good hip-hop track with a tight head-bobbin' ragga rhythm. Dear world: more music like this, please. Thanks!

  • Taximan: This is a definite contender to be one of the best "found sound" tracks I've ever heard. At the start you hear Wayne step into a taxi, portable microphone recording as he tells the driver his destination. The you hear beats and melodies built up completely from bits of sound sampled from inside the cab: the squelch of the cabbies CB radio, the sound of horns blaring from cars passing by, random clicks and chunks from the street around them. But the real genius is how Wayne cuts'n'pastes the cab driver talking to his dispatcher over the CB into what amounts to a MC rapping over the beat. Why didn't I think of this?

  • Bigger Than Biggie: This track definitely has his most mainstream hip-hop feel, which makes sense considering the lyrics are all about money, fame and the thug image in hip-hop -- how in order to be accepted in the biz you have to sell the mythic thug image, even if you are selling your thugness in a convenience pack with a bottle of sprite. (Mmm... That's tasty cultural whoring!) Not exactly a totally original rant, but it's done well and has some teeth, especially from a white, Jamaican-influenced underground MC.
You can buy the CD from CD Baby.

Hear Wayne talk about Mashups on NPR.

Hear Wayne talk about Reggaeton on PRI's The World.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jamaica embraces white female reggae Artist from the U.K check it out at Avaleigh.co.uk
And get free music.

4:06 AM  

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