Jamaican superstar guns for international success
The omnipresence of Sean Paul in 2003 and various hip hop producers copping moves from dancehall have, finally, given Jamaica’s irrepressible O’Neil “Elephant Man” Bryan a way into the mainstream. Nevertheless, this gruff, transcendentally crude MC’s major label debut is fairly uncompromising:bobbling ruffneck ragga with a smattering of rap hybrids and pop crossovers. The rawest material is the strongest, especially “Head Gone/Wine Up Uh Self”, which pits the clappas rhythm, tablas and acid squelches up against Elephant Man’s ungainly but effective flow. “Pon De River, Pon De Bank”, the anthem of last year’s Notting Hill Carnival, is the pick of the pop tunes, on which he confirms his clownish reputation as reggae’s Busta Rhymes. But not even the Elephant’s lisping splutter can redeem “Fan Dem Off” (a gruesome version of “Eye Of The Tiger”) and the hokey novelty of “Mexican Girl”.