Sean Paul :: Imperial Blaze :: Atlantic Records
as reviewed by Jesal 'Jay Soul' Padania

Forgive the pun, but Sean Paul seems stuck between Iraq and a hard place – he has built his international reputation on making club and radio anthems, but he wants to make more politically savvy LP's. A few listens to "Imperial Blaze" (an example of false advertising if ever there was one) is all one needs to recognise that here we have a supremely talented artist that wants to do one thing, but is almost certainly being forced to do another. The result is a career-killing album of apoplectic proportions.

The post mortem: where to start? Maybe the mind-numbingly rubbish lyrics... Every single cliché held dear with the English language appears to have been right-click-Synonymed here. Dove, above, love. Baby girl, you are my world. At one point, he calls his love by the affection nickname "Pepperpot" – I'm surprised she didn't try to crack his skull open with the saltshaker. The worryingly bland first main single, "So Fine," is possible his worst radio release yet, with an average melody/beat/verse/chorus/video. It is nowhere near any of his previous releases, the only redeeming quality being the initial drop into dancefloor urgency.

How about the concepts? For an artist that has been complaining for FIVE YEARS now that he wants to make more "serious" and "socially-conscious" records, there is practically nothing on the entire album. Yes, out of SIXTY recordings, of which practically TWENTY make the cut, nothing, nada, niente. And you can include his previous album, "The Trinity," within that as well, which contained one ("Never Gonna Be the Same"). In fact, that album is the best place to start – my initial listens brought disappointment, but at least it contained some huge classic hit singles, so frankly who cared that it was no "Dutty Rock"? But "Imperial Blaze" is a Sean Paul album with practically no big singles – that makes it an inflatable dartboard, one hit and it's gone.

What first aroused suspicion was the lack of notable guest appearances in the build up. That isn't the norm for Sean "da" Paul. Usually everything is quiet, and you're sitting looking at a glass of water when suddenly it ripples for no apparent reason. Within minutes, a slew of radio monsters, inescapable videos and continuous club bangers have you surrounded, so just surrender. That was certainly not the case here. Nothing notable, just a bunch of delays and apparent "first singles" that never materialised ("Watch Dem Roll").

But surely there must be SOME hot riddims, you plead? Here you go: "So Fine" is average; "Evening Ride" is mildly diverting; "Lately" has a fun bounce to it; "Running Out of Time" is EXACTLY the same as his collabo with Eve, "Give It To You." That's all there is to say, as each song sounds minutely different to the previous effort.

In conclusion, "Daddy's Home" is one of the worst songs I have ever heard. Random, I know, but fuck it. Maybe he is trying to shake off the club-banger millstone, so that people can finally appreciate his "social" side. He has done a pretty good job of killing off his career here, and his greatest hits eulogy will contain barely anything from this lacklustre wet blanket. This is a short review, because I can't bring myself to write one thing more about "Imperial Blaze." I am a massive Sean Paul fan, and it's almost like watching a heavyweight champion past his prime being forced to fight, when all he wants to do is quit the game and be a coach.

Music Vibes: 4 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 2 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 3 of 10

Originally posted: August 25, 2009