A few things must be present in your sonic concoction when looking for the perfect melodic soup that makes an excellent dancehall album. Lyrics aren’t the most crucial ingredient. I mean, we are here to dance. But adrenaline-fueled beats with soul-piercing drumlines, skittering percussion, and punching bass to make you hit the Go-Go wine one time make for a good party. Hailing from Montego Bay, Jamaica, dancehall maven Teejay gets the ingredients for the recipe for his album I Am Chippy but somehow forgot the seasonings. But, the commercially polished effort succeeds in getting your body moving.
This isn’t the old-school stuff that you might hear at Stone Love Headquarters in Kingston. I Am Chippy, co-executive-produced by pop-Reggae artist Shaggy, is a 9-track album soaked in auto-tune melodies that are so commercially polished it lacks character.
I Am Chippy kicks off with the lead single “Drift,” which has already got hit by the viral TikTok bug with a dance that even I can do with my aching millennial knees. The chilling beat has a grim vibe, which is the theme of the first two tracks on I Am Chippy. “Fully Auto” features the gruff vocals of Bayka that slide over haunting piano chords.
Next, we leave the gritty sounds of the first two songs and hit the club with “Twerk It”. The track sounds like it samples the Santana classic “Maria, Maria” and has a Latin-inspired sound that brings some originality to the album. The remix to the lead single, “Drift,” gets help from Afrobeats titan Davido, making an impressive fusion of the two regional genres.
Teejay took a break from the club hits with the second to last track. “Star,” featuring Jaydon and Quan, hits you in the feels with inspirational lyrics echoing vocals and encouraging clapping at the song’s end that could make anyone want to go out there and follow their dreams. I found myself singing the hook to myself over and over after listening.
I Am Chippy closes out with “Never,” which is probably the least memorable of the nine—featuring a simple, lackluster beat scant of a lot of bass and energy. The project is catchy but void of the bombastic culture that makes dancehall timeless as a genre.
Cover photo by Jimmy Fontaine, bottom image by Hakeem West.