Saw'd Off

Dancehall's First Lady flaunts both lyrical nuance and a dazzling pum-pum grip

Lady Saw claimed she's "too nice fi inna cock fight" and "too rich to argue with bitch" on 2004's "Man Is the Least," but that was all chat compared to her eighth LP, Walk Out. "Make me introduce you to mi cutlass," she threatens one heffer on "Chat to Mi Back"; on the title track, she tells her man's new so-called friend, "Walk out let me bust up your mouth/When mi done wit you/You'll wish you never knew mi spouse." Meanwhile, she's putting hickies on your boyfriend. If you can't control your man, that's your problem, apparently, and she'll soon have him losing his senses and jumping wire fences for her special, no-wine-necessary pum-pum grip called cock fi numb.

But "Mama Saw," as she's been recently christened in the dancehall world, will still help a sister out: "Low self-esteem?/You don't need that," she explains during a mini-lecture in a song she sings (rather than raps) called "Not World's Prettiest." And on "No Less Than a Woman," which has gotten the biggest buzz, she explains that "not having a child doesn't make me any less of a woman," opening up about her real-life struggles with infertility. (Being a childless woman in the Caribbean has a much bigger stigma than it does in the States.) The wild card here is a country and western torch song, "You Need Me," in which she plays the long-suffering house lily.

Lady Saw
photo: Anders Jones
Lady Saw

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Though a lot of tracks produced in Jamdown lag a few years behind stylistically compared to the U.S., somebody's really gotta cull some better producers for Lady Saw—people who sound like they're actually writing music in this decade. (For now, Saw produced many of Walk Out'stracks herself.) Timbaland would be a dream if he can swing Jamaican riddims—even Stephen Marley or Dave Kelly, who she worked with a bit on her last album. It's a shame that the first dancehall female to win a Grammy—and a writer with such great lyrical talent—has to maneuver through unsophisticated music arrangements that lack the nuances of her words.

 
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