Local Wire

Elephant Man

Few reggae albums can muster up strong anticipation from the dancehall and hip-hop communities simultaneously, but Elephant Man's latest release, Let's Get Physical, is just that type of disc. Lots of hype surrounded Ele's jump to Bad Boy Records. Not only was that a bold move for both parties, but his rumored physical confrontation with Diddy after the album was shelved only added drama to a release that once seemed bound for Chinese Democracy status. As for the finished product — surprisingly, the wait is well worth it. Elephant Man is typically six Red Bulls to the wind by the start of the album's first track, "Drop Dead," which easily clocks in at 120 beats or more per minute. "Jump" is the same way — all musical cocaine that's more of a Billy Blanks workout routine than a song. A person could play half the tracks from Let's Get Physical on his MP3 player every morning and lose five pounds a week. Many of the songs here are easy for kids to make up dance routines to as well, which is why Elephant Man was so popular in the first place. Where things get sticky is when Bad Boy takes over. And predictably, the most high-profile collaboration on here sounds the most out of place; Chris Brown jumping on a dancehall riddim seems more exciting than it really is. The same goes for Mario Winans, who sounds like he's simply making a paycheck while struggling through the chorus of "Back That Thing on Me." But when Diddy's id gets out of the way, Elephant Man makes universally sexy music that's perfect for sweaty clubs on hot summer nights. You wouldn't expect anything less from the man they call the energy god, now would you?

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Jonathan Cunningham