Published Feb 03, 2015Omar Perry has called his new album Be Cool, but that title feels like a command that he is unwilling to follow. On album track "Love To See You Smile," the reggae vet starts by spitting infantile rhymes about a girl that turns his "grey skies blue" with a smile that drives him "wild" and is really "worthwhile." But before long, that tepid simplicity boils over into ridiculous earnestness when he unabashedly brays: "Yes there's one thing I assure / My love for you, it will always be galore!"
Once he overcomes his hesitation and fully embraces such silliness, Be Cool becomes gleefully entertaining. However, Perry's vocals are anything but "cool." He seems to relegate that duty to Jay "Double Tiger" Spaker, a hip young producer in the ultra chic New York dub-stuy scene, who added his dance flourishes to instrumentals submitted by legendary Jamaican rhythm section Sly and Robbie. Together, they create a sonic intersection between modern dance floors and age-old dance halls. On "My Shining Star," beeps and blips worthy of a futuristic video game console mingle with dreadlock droopy bass lines. This is far more fascinating, and unique, than the restraint Spaker shows on early tracks like "Can't Stop Mi Flow," which is a conventional reggae song, aside from the beat and a warbling synth intro. Be Cool is at its best when everyone involved stops playing it cool and loses their inhibitions. (Tabou)