Beenie Man - Undisputed
Alex Worsnip 07/09/2006
Sometimes the personal values of a musicians leaves the listener in a real moral quandary. Does listening to someone with despicable views legitimise them, and as such should we boycott their music? David Bowie's alleged fascist leanings and his most productive and creatively exciting period co-incided, probably not by chance as both are well documented as being the result of his drug use - should we reject both as a result? Should Michael Jackson's rather perverse world-view (to put it most generously) stop us from dancing to 'Billie Jean' after one too many in a dodgy club on a Friday night?
These are serious questions, and they can be reflected on elsewhere, because fortunately no such dilemma arises with Beenie Man: not only is he a repugnant homophobic bigot; his music is utter gash. Exuding the kind of presumptuous, self-righteous arrogance that makes David Icke look like modesty incarnate, he is unappealing by any set of reasonable criteria. Still, clearly Virgin Records are no longer rocking the “kill batty boys” vibe, and so here Beenie Man turns to more important subjects, like girls (“Girls”), Jamaica (“Jamaican Ting”) and, er, Beenie Man (yes, you guessed it, the imaginatively titled “Beenie Man”).
In fact, save the lack of overt homophobia, this is pretty much exactly what you would expect from a Beenie Man record: quick-fire, stilted beats, buzzing synths and dancehall flavours, topped off by really tired 'chats' that sound like a pastiche of the genre. After 13 tracks of this, we are 'treated' to the only serious change of sound, the unbelievably horrible 'My Woman', which is an awful sacrilege of the whole concept of balladry, with Beenie Man bellowing “woman I love you, yah yah yah” with all the sensitivity of a brick, a 'magical' sparkling sound that could drive small children to jump off buildings, and some rent-a-soulful-voice female backing vocals.
The mainstream breakthrough of someone like Sean Paul, with better hooks and more club pulling power, renders this kind of thing increasingly pointless. No doubt it'll sell a few copies and earn him another spot on Jools Holland and collaborations with American artists who really should know better, all in the name of cultural diversity. Its title actually encapsulates it perfectly, albeit probably not in the way he intended - all big claims, but no specifics: undisputed as what? It's pretty clear in this particular listener's mind.