Written By Jen Cheshire
“’Live N Livin’ is one of two albums from the multi-award-winning Jamaican dancehall star, Sean Paul, offering a collaboration over confrontation undertone that showcases unity in Dancehall. The album was inspired by the perception of members of the music industry that dancehall is dead, instead, Sean Paul believes dancehall is alive and well, with a strong pulse. Looking to show the world that dancehall is flourishing and still birthing stars, ‘Live N Livin’ showcase over twenty artists on one body of work.”
“It was important to me to show that in our genre of dancehall, we don’t need to clash in order to attain the spotlight. We don’t need to divide our fans to attain the rotations on the airwaves or streams. Over the years myself, Shaggy, and more recently Koffee, Shensea and others are tapping into the world stage and we are not clashing our co-workers, nor are we dividing our fans. This album ‘Live N Livin’ is an album I hold very dear to my heart because it shows the effort of collaboration over confrontation,” said Sean Paul.
Sean Paul has had many critics over the years amongst the Dancehall artists and fans alike, calling him a “sell-out” for crossing over to a more mainstream sound at times over the years, but Sean has never left his dancehall roots. His latest album “Live N Livin” is an eclectic mix of hardcore Dancehall and conscious Dancehall that guarantees something for all Dancehall fans. Sean collaborates with artists from both sides, illustrating the unity that he was wanting to convey. The album is superbly put together and the following are the tracks that resonated with me.
“Boom” featuring Busy Signal is a hard track to sit still and listen to. This one is guaranteed to be a party and club favorite, with the crowd singing “Boom” along with it.
Initially listening to “The Plug” featuring Chi Ching Ching, I was concentrating on the flow and not paying too much attention to the lyrics. The second time I listened I heard the track as an anthem to the DJ who brings the energy to the club or the radio but then after the third listening I realized there was a sexual undertone to this song. This song highlights the undeniable talent that can incorporate lyrics conveying whatever you want them to mean, without being explicit.
Another stand-out old-school style dancehall song is “Crazy” featuring Buju Banton.”
This is a different sound from how you would normally hear Buju. Working with him is a dream come true for me” -Sean Paul
This is a fun track that I think will be a favorite.
“Schedule” featuring Jr. Gong and Chi Ching Ching is a catchy, tongue-in-cheek song about the sexual superiority of the Jamaican man. “That’s how we do it, we do it every day.” “That’s how we do it the Jamaican way.” This is the “earworm” track on the album. I found myself singing or humming it all day after I heard it.
The first of the conscious tracks on the album is “Protect Me” featuring Serani. This track is tackling this issue of the people in the industry who are jealous of your success and try to bring you down. “I say a prayer for mi betrayer. They can’t put mi under.”
“Lion Heart”, released as a single in December 2020, is the only solo song by Sean Paul on the album. It was a response to the industry people who were criticizing Sean for not taking part in a Verzus style clash like many other dancehall artists. Sean believed that the clash atmosphere was creating division between fans, and not promoting the unity needed to make Dancehall an International genre.
In December 2020, Sean Paul also released “Guns of Navarone” featuring Jesse Royal and Mutabaruka. This song is a remix now also featuring Ghanaian artist Stonebwoy. It highlights the glorification of violence and the casual disregard for life by the acceptance of it. “How can a people be so traumatized that they start to love the traumatic experiences?”
“Danger Zone” featuring Bugle and Sotto Bless is a call to Dancehall artists to think carefully about how their lyrics are influencing the younger generation, especially the lyrics about violence and gun culture. Although artists have different reasons for their lyrics, some for fame, some for girls but some of them “chat” about righteousness but then live by the gun. The song follows up by highlighting some of the more insidious crimes that are affecting society and how we are living in a Danger Zone where only Jah can save us.
Choosing which tracks to highlight on this album was difficult but I had to include the remix of the 2018 single “I’m Sanctify” featuring Mavado and Agent Sasco. Mavado sums up the world we are in at this time with “To be born ‘pon this earth is a risk.” It’s hard to pick a favorite track on this album but for right now this is mine.
Buy the album in its entirety because some tracks that may not hit you initially, can become among your favorites.
Sean Paul said this is an album for all Dancehall fans with something to please everyone. I’m sure the conscious section of this album will surprise many and apparently he has more to say in upcoming releases. I can’t wait.