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Jamaican Singer Shenseea Glides Between Styles on ‘Never Gets Late Here’

Her eclectic second album has Main Girl Pop energy

As early as 2018 Jamaican superstar Shenseea was telling interviewers “By next year I want to be international, and when I say that, I don’t mean just as a dancehall artiste, but an international pop star.” Just last week Shenseea wondered aloud to Spotify if she should start classifying her sound as “dancehall pop” or “reggae pop.” Her second album, Never Gets Late Here, boldly continues on that long road to be the first Jamaican-born Main Pop Girl since Grace Jones and, thankfully, her attempts are mostly seamless. 

On the LP, which is executive produced by London on tha Track, Shenseea glides between genres, equally at home on a futuristic sound-system thumper like “Tap Out” as on the summery bubblegum dancehall of “Neva Neva.” She effortlessly bounds into to the Latin trap of “Red Flag” alongside Anitta and a percolating sample of Australian son revivalists San Lazaro. She gleams on the post-disco dreamer “Flava” alongside Coi Leray. She duets with fellow pop polyglot Wizkid on the steamy “Work Me Out.” The only time Never Gets Late feels like its trying too hard to pull off something is the gloopy power ballad “Stars” where producers Stargate sound like they are attempting to rekindle the fireworks from those Katy Perry and Rihanna smashes they made a decade ago.


Even before Never Gets Late Here, Shenseea had proven herself excellent at vacillating between toasting and singing, her last eight years teeming with dirty dancehall, EDM bangers and the occasional freestyle. But the fact that she can do it all is not what makes her a convincing pop star, its her adherence towards the type of sentiment bound to neither time or place. When she yearns for independence in “Hit & Run,” she recalls everything from Cyndi Lauper to Liz Phair to Doja Cat, sassily saying “A girl like me just want to have fun and more money.” Her “Na na na na” (“NaNa”) is part of a continuum from the girl groups to Gaga to, of course, Steam’s “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye.”

Plus, she can boast with the best of them. Shenseea gives XXX-rated American rappers some competition with instantly memorable assertions like “If you can’t make me come then the sex don’t count”(“Die For You”) and “My AMEX is better than S-E-X” (“Dolla”). Even on her love songs (“Loyalty”), she can’t help but sing her own praises: “Fi me love no disappear when time harder/Only time you see me switch it up a inna genre.”

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