Infiltration - 2005

The debut album from Assassin arrives with much hype and fanfare — this young man has made a name for himself on the Jamaican dancehall scene and on the island’s airwaves, and has toured extensively as a protégé of Buju Banton. But if you come to his album expecting any new take on the typical modern dancehall vibe, you’ll be disappointed. On the other hand, if all you’re expecting is a more than usually mature debut from a significant talent, then you’re sure to be pleased by Assassin’s self-assured delivery and witty chatting. The rhythms provided for his use on Infiltration are drawn from the A list of Jamaican production teams, including Clevie & Steelie (whose “As a Man” rhythm is one of the album’s highlights), Renaissance Crew, and Jah Snowcone. There are also combination tracks, two of which are among the program’s strongest cuts: a sweetly romantic number titled “Let Me Know,” which features the golden-voiced Syleena Johnson, and a fine roots-and-culture collaboration with Freddie McGregor called “Youths Well Cold.” “Respect Due” is that rarest of dancehall features, a song on which the singer humbly acknowledges the influence of his musical forebears; “Girls Gone Wild,” unfortunately, is that most common of dancehall features, a trend-hopping shout-out to slutty girls everywhere. Recommended overall.