Checking out a few sites one night, I came across a picture of Heavy D without the glasses looking a bit rough. Now time hasn’t been good to Heavy D at all, can’t remember too many people that even mention his name when it comes to hot old school artists. Fact is besides LL no other MC had a nice long catalog aimed at the fairer sex with success like Heavy D. Between acting, a bit of directing and few joints produced here and there (most notable this decade is “Gun & Roses” by Jay Z), I can’t really recall hearing anything from the overweight lover. To my surprise, Heavy had an all reggae album drop this year.
Heavy D is not new to reggae at all, he’s Jamaican for Gods sake. I remember in 1989 I listened to this station that played Hip Hop hard on the weekends and the song “I’m In The Mood For Love” was always in rotation. At the same time “We Got Our Own Thang” was still holding a bit of heat and the Al B. Sure assisted, watered down “Love Me For Me” was on the come up. Add that to the fact an artist named Shinehead was really picking up steam. So when “I’m In The Mood For Love” was coming on, I just assumed it was Shinehead. Long story short, when I got the Big Tyme album by Heavy D and The Boyz and I was greeted with that reggae gem as well as “Flexin” which I thought he killed btw.
Now it’s 2009, twenty years later not only does Heavy have a reggae album, it’s a good reggae album. I mean REGGAE as in Gregory Isaac, ok I have went too far with that comparison, but it is good. This is not some half-ass attempt like Nore when he tried that whole reggaeton album, or some fake ass dancehall shit like Shaggy pulls out his ass. This is truly good ol’ reggae and I’m still shocked it’s Heavy D singing on this album.
“Long Distance Girlfriend” is the first track and though it’s not the best track or one of the better tracks on the album at all it does set up the vibe nicely. I mean every time I thought he’d spit a few bars I was greeted with more singing. Now “No Matter What” is just sick and really reminds you of some late 70’s, early 80’s joint that would have the Brit stations buzzing and us here in the states would be trying to catch up. “My Love Is All I Have” makes you think Wyclef all day, trust me I’m not complaining at all about that. By this time if you’ve never heard of Heavy D and went to check his past work you’d be totally shocked. I mean I wonder how ill he would have been if he chose to do this genre of music in his career path.
One of the highlights or fuck it, the best song on Vibes has to be “Delilah”. The song is about a teenage girl with a baby who is down on her luck. This too reminds of Clef when he’s in his full on “Marley Zone.” What I find ill is that Heavy produced most of this himself. Not like he wasn’t nice with beats and shit but I came away impressed he did his thing on both ends. “Sincere” is a great way to end a ten track outing that never seemed to be too short or too long. No interludes or flashy music industry tricks that end up having a song feel out of place against the over all feel of the album. Now the Barrington Levy assisted “Love Me Like This” is just down-right not good, not bad but just not good. Since it’s Levy it still fits but it doesn’t make it good just understandable.
It’s rare that MCs venture out of their comfort zone and succeed at that venture. This doesn’t count acting at all, but Heavy was on Broadway at one point too. For an artist to switch genre and do it with such ease shows a love and respect for the music they choose to dive into. Again he could have went and really played himself and tried to connect with Reggae’s top earners and eat off that, but he didn’t. That is what makes this a pretty solid album.
This is a really good album and if you’re into reggae or Heavy D or just want a change of pace rock this joint.