Dready Metal

Unlike their North American counterparts, Jamaican rappers are incorporating heavy metal into their material, with some amazing results

As with most Jamaican rap, it is nearly impossible to comprehend the lyrics, which are sung in what BET fave Shaggy calls "dog-a-muffin" style. English syntax gives over to something resembling French; objects precede both subjects and verbs, and adjectives follow their nouns. Though the words are in English, they are slung together so wildly and are prefixed or suffixed by "sah" and "yah" so often, they challenge listeners to the point of distraction.

But language has never historically been a problem for English-only audiences here. Stereolab (primarily French), Pizzicato Five (primarily Japanese) and Los Lobos (occasionally Spanish or even Spanglish) have all been received lovingly by radio listeners and trendier-than-thou college heads alike. And who can forget the "Macarena"?

Jamaican rapper Buccaneer: Known for his multifarious styles, including opera  --  and heavy-metal-influenced dancehall.
Jamaican rapper Buccaneer: Known for his multifarious styles, including opera -- and heavy-metal-influenced dancehall.
Buccaneer also appears on the soundtrack to Third World Cop, a remake of the 1972 Jimmy Cliff Jamaican crime film classic.
Buccaneer also appears on the soundtrack to Third World Cop, a remake of the 1972 Jimmy Cliff Jamaican crime film classic.

As with opera, language is a barrier only if the delivery sucks. Buccaneer, with his intensity, transcends obstacles, whether language- or genre-based. If metal samples and sounds work for him and a handful of other rappers in a place like Jamaica, they can also work for artists and audiences here. Anywhere.

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