VP Records/Hardwax

With the worldwide success of Sean Paul’s Dutty Rock (2002) and The Trinity (2005) it only seems appropriate for VP and Hardwax to be re-releasing Stage One, Sean Paul’s much overlooked debut released in 2000.

I’m sure no-one here needs introducing to the likes of Sean Paul’s music, luckily this album is more landmark than introduction. It marks an important time in dancehall, featuring rhythm tracks and production from Tony ‘CD’ Kelly, Lloyd ‘King Jammy’ James, Steely & Clevie, Jeremy Harding, Louis ‘Flabba’ Malcolm, Richard ‘Shams’ Browne, Lloyd ‘John John’ James Jr and Byron Murray, all of which, alongside the ‘deejays’ have become some of the biggest names in modern dancehall. This alliance with the big names and especially Jeremy Harding brings high production quality along for the ride, toppa top business. It’s one of the things I’ve most appreciated with all three albums.

Although Sean’s delivery has never been as hot as his contemporaries he has forged an instantly recognisable style and an uncanny ability to write hooks that are so damn catchy it hurts. When teamed with the likes of Mr Vegas on tunes such as Hot Gal Today (Haffi Get Di Gal) and Tiger Bone you have sure fire dancefloor killers, or fillers as it may be. It’s a well known fact amongst selectors that Sean Paul’s tunes never fail to move a crowd, this album is no exception. It contains so many of the tunes that broke the deejay into the big time – Infiltrate, Deport Them being the first that come to mind.

I think this is a shining example of how a Dancehall album should be when an artist is on form. The tunes are strong, words such as ‘proper bashment business’ come to mind and despite this man’s commercial success there’s not a hint of pandering to the masses to acheive it, no US collaborations in vain attempts to ‘cross over’ here.

I think the only small criticism I have with Stage One is the dubious addition of skits throughout. I find these quite irritating, I mean with titles such as Examples of Things Not To Do In Bed, its pretty easy to exclude what you don’t like. In this day and age who doesn’t delete the tracks they don’t like on an album? It will still leave you with 18 or so wicked cuts.

Stage One is still a great album to pick up if you (like me) missed it first time around – its also the first time it has been released in Australasia proper so its a less likely find inna bargain bin, cop dat!