Tanya Stephens has to be one of my favourite artists of all time and one of the most competent lyricists in the record industry today.
Born Vivienne Stephenson in Kingston, Jamaica 1973, Tanya was one of the most influential reggae artists of the 1990’s in her native lands, but it wasn’t until her 2004 hit ‘It’s A Pity’ that she gained international recognition.
Unlike many of her female peers, Tanya has something to say for herself. Not content with just swinging her pussy at the world and warbling about men, love and self-exhibitionism, her lyrical content is incredibly diverse and no subject is off limits. From religion, politics, racism, alcoholism and gang culture to the state of the record industry, Tanya’s satirical observations show a rare competent eloquence in social commentary. That’s not to say stereotypical female complaints are off limits though, love and relationships also feature throughout her musical catalogue, but with Tanya it’s always peppered with humour, honesty and a no-bullshit attitude that would make pop’s “girl power” crawl back from under the man they crame from and R&B’s money grabbing ho’s hang their heads in shame (and certainly no-one can accuse her of being prudish either).
But lyrics are only half the song, but luckily Stephens is fully aware of this. From club stompers to head nodding chill out Tanya satisfies the most beat hungry ears, dance loving booties and lounge around sound seekers. All 4 of her previous albums are “play through start to finish” and if you love reggae, dancehall, you’d be a fool to Ms Stephens.
Her new album “Infallible” is set for release later this year.
Back catalogue includes:
Gangsta Blues (2004)
Too Hype (1997)
Ruff Rider (1998)
Stand out tracks for me (though this is a very select pick, I actually like 99% of them) are:
Rebelution: Spilt Milk, Cherry Brandy
Gansta Blues: It’s A Pity, Can’t Breathe
Too Hype: Mi and Mi God
Ruff Rider: Part Time Lover
"I'm tired of the hunger I see on people's faces
Tired of the animosity between the races
Tired of corruption in high and low places
And pricks with money but no social graces"
-What A Day, Gansta Blues
"Time passed, and Bubba turned 40 years old,
And all them Jack Daniels started taking a toll,
Seem like Bubba was about to make a final bow,
None of his friends from the clan couldnt help him now.
Family gathered at his bedside, ready to sing the blues,
When the doctor rushed in and said "Ive got some news!!!"
"The good news is, Bubba, I’ve found you a liver, only bad news is, it belongs to a Nigger"
Do you still care, about the texture of his hair or the cocoa brown colour of his skin,
Do you still care, do you still give a damn now you're in the predicament you're in,
- Do You Still Care, Rebelution
Listen below to "Can't Breathe" from Rebelution