I-Wayne: ‘Life Teachings’
When the religious take to music to preach their beliefs, the resulting product has the potential to be mighty, exquisite and commanding.
But, when religion meets contemporary music, the aftermath is often times so nauseating that the message is completely lost.
Reggae is one of the only exceptions, thanks to artists like I-Wayne.
Some Rastas argue that the Rastafari movement, which heavily influences reggae, is a way of life rather than a religion; regardless, the guiding ideals of the movement receive a religious-like allegiance. Unlike other contemporary music governed by creed, reggae’s rhythm is arresting and therefore able to communicate beliefs without being tuned out immediately. I-Wayne continues capturing audiences with “Life Teachings,” his third album, released on VP Records in October.
Jamaican-born Cliffroy Taylor, known as I-Wayne, first brought attention to his Rastafari convictions with his 2005 debut, “Lava Ground,” and its hit single “Can’t Satisfy Her.” His music, which employs hip-hop and soul qualities, easily found fans within America’s urban culture. “Life Teachings” maintains those same qualities that garnered I Wayne a base in the U.S., while also staying true to his homeland and the way of the Rasta.
Easily roped in by its infectious beats, listeners of “Life Teachings” can learn much about the Rastafari movement without feeling preached to by I-Wayne; in fact, if he didn’t elicit “Rasta” or “Rastafarian,” one might not even recognize a relation to any religion. I-Wayne advocates empowerment, love, positivity and wholeness, principles in which many, even the secular, find value. Such widely accepted concepts allow a majority of people to relate to reggae and I-Wayne.
Some may find I-Wayne’s rejection of materialism, which bred the Rastafari aversion to Western society, harder to accept. In the dub-flavored “Wise and Fearless,” he sings, “Stop killing one another for material, those things are trivial.” “Herb Fi Legalize,” addressing the spiritual use of cannabis by Rastas, may be another topic of discordance.
I-Wayne is much more of a lover than a hater. Many of his “Life Teachings” are of a romantic nature; at least half of the album, heavily infused with R&B, discusses his thoughts on love and women. In “Life Joy,” he is “more than addicted to your love,” and in “Pure as the Nile,” “girl, you and I were meant to be together i-ternally.” While those utterances, out of context, seem extremely cheesy, when they’re silkily sung to backdrop of sensual music, they are soothing and seductive.
With their agreeable harmonies, radiant horn sections and easy-going guitar, the songs of “Life Teachings” are likable; I-Wayne’s smooth voice, which has a tendency to lean toward the higher register, make them even more attractive. Despite the redeeming qualities, some people will immediately abandon “Life Teachings” due to dialectal and cultural barriers. I-Wayne’s strong Jamaican accent and use of phrases, only understood by those familiar with the Rastafari movement, may be a turn-off for even the open-minded.
Reggae fans and Rastas are I-Wayne’s target audience, and he continues to satisfy their music and philosophical cravings with “Life Teachings.” Because of his incorporation of their preferred styles, those who enjoy hip-hop and urban music will likely to stick to I-Wayne, as well. Others, if they choose to familiarize themselves with reggae and the Rastafari movement, could find “Life Teachings” to be a worthwhile lesson.