Alpha by Shenseea
11 Mar 2022
Earlier in the year we were wowed by Cordae presenting a sophomore album with A list features like Stevie Wonder and Eminem. Well now we have Shenseea releasing a debut with support from international superstars such as Sean Paul and Megan Thee Stallion. Everyone from Kanye West to Christina Aguilera wanted to get involved with Shenseea even before she released her first full length record which is quite an achievement. So does Alpha live up to the hype?
I went in to the first listen of this record fully expecting 40 minutes of mostly anthemic dancehall with subtle pop hints to give it that mainstream chart appeal. Surprisingly, however, that is not what Alpha offers. Shenseea, although primarily recognised as a dancehall singer, has put together a remarkably cohesive album of hip hop, pop and R&B. This isn't a confused young artist trying to find her sound though. Instead it comes across as a confident display of her stylistic versatility that somehow still manages to keep the flavour of her roots throughout.
The production on Alpha is consistent in its ability to get the listener moving. The rhythms are infectious at any tempo from the slow, hazy, reggae of Lying If I Call It Love with Sean Paul to the minimalist trap beat on Bouncy featuring Offset. The heartwarming dialogue at the end of Sun Comes Up is the perfect amount to give us a bit more personality to Shenseea without stealing us away from the music for too long.
Now there is an elephant in this room that we will not be able to avoid discussing and that is Shenseeas lyrical content. The men might find it sexy, the women might find it empowering but no doubt some are going to find it a little too blue for their ears and unfortunately there aren't many tracks that are going to gel with this group. The vulgarity is strong with this record but Shenseea has a powerful energy that is never going to be comfortable whispering from the back row. It is, however, easier for even the most bashful of listeners to be drawn in by the way the profanity is either beautifully sung or delivered in a bouncy, playful way that avoids any cheapness.
Overall, I have very little to criticize about this album. I think Shenseea is still growing and could become the new standard bearer of injecting a subtle dancehall flavour in to the charts. I think pop and hip hop fans alike are going to discover new avenues of Jamaican music through this star and that is a result of her branching out not despite it. The production is great, the features are sensible and the performance from Shenseea is jaw dropping in more ways than one. Possibly the best record of the year so far. Take a listen and let me know what you think.