Shenseea: Alpha review – thundering energy, staggering profanity | Pop and rock

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Few people can keep up with US rap phenomenon Megan Thee Stallion, let alone upstage her. But Lick – her recent collaboration with Jamaican dancehall artist Shenseea – proves it is at least possible. That’s partly thanks to the latter’s imperious, hypnotically rhythmic flow, but also because of the things she says. Lick is an ode to receiving oral sex, and Shenseea pays tribute in eye-wateringly blunt style (sample lyric: “Me want me pum-pum sucked, sucked, sucked”).

It’s a theme that continues throughout the 25-year-old’s debut album: even taking into account dancehall’s sexually explicit lyrical tradition, Shenseea is staggeringly profane. Sometimes this is pushed to the point of unintentional comedy (the sweetly romantic slow jam Deserve It somehow manages to find room for the line “put that pussy in a hearse every time”) but usually it feels like a suitable accompaniment to the uninhibited, thundering energy of her music.

Shenseea also knows how to entertain a guest, pairing a raft of stars with dancehall tunes subtly altered in their favour. Beenie Man shines on Henkel Glue, a blistering, old-school take on the genre; 21 Savage’s tightly controlled mumblings slot nicely into the serpentine R&B-fusion of R U That; Offset appears on the trap-adjacent Bouncy.

In fact, the musician works so well with others that the final stretch of solo numbers drags slightly in comparison. Yet by the album’s conclusion, you can’t help but feel you’re in the presence of Jamaican dancehall’s next big crossover star: a woman with the ability to cover all bases without ever watering down her distinctive – and unabashedly risque – presence.



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