Sign up for our newsletters   

Baltimore City Paper home.

music Home > Record Reviews

On the Download

Rihanna featuring Vybz Kartel

Rihanna: “You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No)”

Label:Def Jam
Genre:R & B

By Jess Harvell | Posted 9/14/2005

Rihanna was created in the secret underground bunker where the record industry cranks out good-looking kids with passable pipes who can’t yet vote. “Pon De Replay” was yet another clapping dancehall beat with a singsong R&B melody for the sorority girls at the put-put golf. After three years, this is proving a pretty lucrative formula. (Though nothing has quite matched Lumidee’s winsome, non-pitch corrected “Never Leave You.”)

Music of the Sun is R&B lite and dance pop with a sprinkle of “island flavor” to keep Rihanna from getting her ass handed to her by Ciara. But in a summer where real dancehall abandoned up-tempo dance music in favor of traditional one-drop reggae beats, her cover of Dawn Penn’s reggae classic feels oddly of the moment. What saves “You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No)” from the pop scrap heap is the elastic voice of Vybz Kartel—currently dancehall’s biggest star—who mumbles, leers, winks, and otherwise plays with words like putty.

The ’90s Steely and Cleevie remake of “You Don’t Love Me” was a brilliant rapprochement between warm ’60s roots reggae (the original is about three times as old as Rihanna) and the hard right angles of digital dancehall. Rihanna’s version finds a different kind of tension, one that exploits the weird sound of modern computer music that has probably come as close as it’s going to in replicating the sound of acoustic instruments. Of course, like the eerie, high-gloss shine of the “guitars” in Jazze Pha productions, kids who’ve never known a world without drum machines don’t hear tension, just pop business as usual.

Comments powered by Disqus
CP on Facebook
CP on Twitter