“Keep it real,” is one of the most important commandments of the hip-hop bible. As marketing campaigns have saturated hip-hop, what’s really real has become increasingly confusing, but authenticity is still as crucial as ever. With that in mind let’s be real; before you first saw him did you think Collie Buddz was black? A reggae artist from Bermuda rhyming in a heavily accented flow about smoking up and winding; I wouldn’t have guessed white. This isn’t a thesis paper on race. I’m just pointing out that the legacy of Vanilla Ice has permanently scarred …
DJBooth Album Review
With that in mind let’s be real; before you first saw him did you think Collie Buddz was black? A reggae artist from Bermuda rhyming in a heavily accented flow about smoking up and winding; I wouldn’t have guessed white. This isn’t a thesis paper on race. I’m just pointing out that the legacy of Vanilla Ice has permanently scarred the hip-hop community. Anyone who’s white and practices a black musical form is met with immediate suspicion, and rightfully so. Is Buddz an aspiring model chosen by a record label for his crossover potential or a true lover of reggae music and culture? I’m far from the definitive source on Caribbean music but I can say this; his debut album Collie Buddz won’t make him the next the Bob Marley, but he’s no Vanilla Ice. (Thank god, one was more than enough.)
Buddz’s breakthrough single Come Around is the reason we’re talking about him now. It’s perfectly balanced blend of reggae rythems and hip-hop influenced rhymes has caught the ear of everyone with a pulse, it’s an absolutely monster song. Buddz can hit the thickly stylized flows with a razor blade sharpness while his voice also maintains an underlying smoothness. Think Elephant Man crossed with Justin Timberlake, and yes I am the first person in history to write that sentence. Buddz has talked at length about his classic dancehall and reggae influences and on Collie Buddz it shows. The slowly bouncing track Blind To You has the same tough yet relaxed appeal of Come Around (except he’s addressing haters and not a marijuana shortage) and Tomorrow’s Another Day is a more mellow spiritual track on an inspirational tip. Buddz, who also produced the album, proves he’s a student of music with the talent to match.
Unfortunately I have to believe the marketing department found it’s way into Collie Buddz. The most common way to promote a relatively unknown artist is to attach them to some guest artists; you hook listeners in with a big name and then hope they stay for the solo material. That doesn’t mean a guest verse makes the music any better, something that’s evident on the album. Lonely has the most hip-hop beat on the album and should be destined for club status, but Yung Berg’s formulaic flow brings it down to average status. Defend Your Own is a quickly stuttering beat with a revolutionary bent that features’ Krayzie Bone’s signature flow and What A Feeling’s laid back vibe has the irresistible Paul Wall putting in time, but neither track really works. It’s not that the guest verses are bad, they just don’t fit. Will Ferrell is a genius actor and Scarface is a great movie, but that doesn’t mean Ferrell should play Tony Montana. I would have rather had Buddz bring in some other island voices, only the dancehall artist Roache shows up to sing the hook on Sensimillia. Less would have been more on Collie Buddz, let’s hope there’s some better casting on the next album.
If you want to make it onto U.S. radio you’ve got to have some danceable hits and Buddz has followed the example of Sean Paul and Shaggy nicely. Mamacita has a sweetly clapping track made for dancing at summer parties and Wild Out is a more energetic slapping track made for winding hips and dripping sweat. These cuts are perfect for partying and not much else, but hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. Buddz showcases his versatility by switching musical styles throughout the album, but if he wants some longevity in the game he’d be well advised to focus more on the addictively gritty riddims of Come Around than quickly forgotten club hits. Let’s hope this is the introduction to a longer story for Collie Buddz and not a final chapter. Now if I could only figure out what “pon” means. Anyone?
DJBooth Rating - 3 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 07/9/07
Harper Digital LLC
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"Come Around" (2007)
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