Dancehall artist Sean Paul pretty much came out of nowhere with his startling 2003 debut, Dutty Rock, to dominate the airwaves and MTV. His high-octane blend of dancehall vibes and hip-hop style resonated worldwide and made him into one of the highest-selling reggae artists of all time. Expectations were high for his sophomore effort, and unfortunately Mr. Paul falls well short of the bar he set for himself. The Trinity is a lackluster set of limp dancehall and hip-hop concoctions that fails to generate the heat that made Dutty Rock such a crossover success.
The blame shouldn’t all fall with Sean Paul, though. His flow and lyrical style are as potent as ever. He creates hooks with ease, bouncing around each track in creative and entertaining ways. His voice is distinct and this in itself allows him to rise above the mediocre material. The problem is the production. For a dancehall album, very few of the tracks make me want to dance. Where Dutty Rock was aimed straight at the clubs, The Trinity seems more interested in painting Sean Paul as a ladies’ man. Much of the street elements that made his debut so vibrant are seemingly erased. Obnoxious tracks such as “Head in the Zone” try too hard to create unusual-sounding beats but wind up sounding commercial and overly polished. Even lead single “We Be Burnin’ ” suffers from cheesy production. It only succeeds because of Sean Paul’s cleverly addictive hook.
The majority of The Trinity can be skipped, but there are a few bright spots throughout. The lover-man persona works pretty well in most instances, such as on the panty-wetting “Give It Up to Me,” which rides a fairly simple beat provided by Don Corleon, and on “Connection,” featuring Nina Sky, a sexy track bolstered by the guest’s interpretation of reggae inflections and a pulsing bass line.
Another collaboration, with vocalist Tami Chynn, “All On Me” is one of the best tracks here, with its thumping bass and sensual interplay between Paul and Chynn. Dancehall is best when served with minimal production, because it is centered on a thick bass line and a few looped percussions. “All on Me” works because it provides those elements while still managing to sound like a pop song. Still, The Trinity is fairly disappointing. Less than half of the eighteen tracks are worthwhile additions to Sean Paul’s catalogue.
‘The Trinity’ e-card