Rewind & CD Review
Title: “Book of Life
Label: VP Records
Producer: Shanti Fuller
Despite life’s trials the blessings nature has bestowed on us makes life a precious gift we should give thanks for. This is the message throughout roots and culture singer I-Wayne on “Book of Life” his sophomore effort released Nov.6 in NYC on VP Records. Unlike his 2005 debut CD “Lave Ground” w/the monster urban/hip-hop radio hit ‘One Man Can’t satisfy her”, Book of Life” is not as hot as Lava. However, on Life Wayne cast himself as the ‘fire warrior’ against injustice. It is chock full of danceable and some familiar rhythms like ‘Free the People (Sattamasagana riddim) and Good Enough (Burning Spear’s ‘Call on you’.) The album maintains Lava militancy; it is just more reflective. Lyrically over the sixteen tracks on Book of Life I-Wayne covers thematically politics, love and black identity. Vocally with his melodic voice chants I Wayne shows the wealth of his depth as an artist as who is evolving and maturing as a singer.
I-Wayne opens the album with title track The Book of Life, a soothing message on a hypnotic beat as I Wayne wails “what you say or do should be true/ scorn a wicked look at life.” The free-flowing acoustic guitar, well timed chimes and chorus harmonies give the song the feel of a prayer chant as he sings “To life give praises, for these infinite stages.”
Never far from the militant Rasta-preacher he is, on ‘Free the People’ I-Wayne chants Africa and its people rebirth while decrying Dutty Babylon’ telling them to ‘ free the people/ Life worth more than money, house and vehicle/ Inna deathtrap yu lead the people/ Yuh neglect, and starve and say you feed the people.”
The militancy continues as he takes Babylon to task on up-tempo tracks ‘Annihilation, featuring Icoflamez, and, ‘Smart Attack, a word play on Heart Attack Wayne chastises as he rhymes “parents hear it and get heart attack/ den sey how de warriors mek smart attack/…isat mabrak. ‘On Life Is Easy, he castigates ungrateful people who ‘ sey life is ‘ard’ because ‘Life Is Easy, then he extols virtues of morally upright life as he implores his listeners not to fall prey to Babylon’s immorality.
On the next three tracks Wayne gives a thematic tribute to the feminine gender. On ‘Need Her in I Arms, an intoxicating melodic true love song on which Wayne gets (afro) mantic embracing male and female intimacy and sexuality, the wonderfulness of a man experience in a woman’s gasp. “Searching, to find love/hurting she need I love/ certainly ready anytime, for divine love/“I need in her in I arms to charm and keep I warm/ I’ve been floating on and on from dusk till dawn.” Vocally he employs an R&B melody to get his point across.
Next he continues his affection for the black woman on ‘No Vanity Love’ extolling them to eschew material love and remain virtuous. ‘Nuh stoop fi postion/recognition. Nuh end good relationship fin uh Christmas list’ All this is done over a sublime yet simple melody.
Jealousy and Abuse (w/ Lady G), tackles domestic violence confronting physical abuse and its effects on women. Condemning abusers (Joker Junior) who violate women Lady G’s sing jay melody compliments Wayne’s melodious vocals. As serious as the lyrics are meant be, a more energetic rhythm could have sharpened its delivery, then again, the message is delivered on smooth velvet beat rather than a rough shot rthymn allowing the listener to appreciate its seriousness. Good Enough, a rock steady swing one-drop rhythm w/ shades of Burning Spear’s “Call on you” is nice little ditty.
The next track Politics and Religion are familiar Rasta refrains. I-Wayne decries the divisiveness caused by both politics and religion. This track comes alive with a live performance vibe and given his passion and energy the message is convincing. The next track No Unnecessary War self-styled ‘binghi warrior chanter ‘ continues the thematic message of decrying system’s fascination the gun, violence and religious division. He sings all dem self dem a fite/ de bloody shitstem ain’t working/ jus have to be strong/ the little children dey are urting’ in convincing style.
The final three tracks Coulda Never, Dart to them Heart (Deva Brat tone serves as interruption to Wayne’s refine vocals) and Natural Ites is too much of the same-overkill and preachy. Done on really rthymically pleasing sophisticated beats, Wayne’s over kill is his earlier made his familiar criticisms of vanity, materialism and religion.
I-Wayne, tendency towards being too preachy may be attribute to his youthful urgency and inexperience, hopefully as he matures as an artist his music vision becomes less preachy and more though provocating. A more experienced executive producer would have found tracks with different themes. The Book of Life is definitely a must for roots and culture fans and should garner new ones. Life is the singer’s best and most enjoyable work to-date. Now if we could just find a hit single on life.