FYA (pronounced fire) have burst onto the UK dancehall scene with their fusion of ragga, R&B, hip hop and pop. The three teenagers have a truck-load of attitude with lashes of a much welcomed feminity to the up-until-now male dominated environs.
Jamaican-born Tenza Foster (19), Slough’s Kizzi Bennett (16) and Zimbabwean-born Emma Nhamburo (17) have come far since performing at their local youth centre in Slough, now working with dancehall legends Bounty Killer and Sean Paul. Rising quickly through the ranks since debut single Boops in 2003, the teenagers have developed their own FYA flava that arrives at a party, cranks up the volume and starts shaking some serious booty.
Opening Track Too Hot, their third single, is a sexually precocious party tune with dirty electro bass and an aural assault of rapping, talking and harmonic singing behind a writhing beat. “If you’re gonna come than you better come good” they sing. Sizzling stuff.
The other single on this album, Must Be Love, featuring MC Smujji, stands out immediately. Where other songs are noticeably predictable and thinner in sound, Must Be Love is multi-layered and vibrant with twists and turns, catchy melodies and bolshy rapping.
The radio-friendly vibes continue throughout the rest of the album but here is the sticking point. All the songs are variations of the same. The same dancehall beats, the same formula of singing then ragga rapping. It’s like Sean Paul and Shaggy rucking with Mis-Teeq for 50 minutes.
Fair play to the girls for excluding the barrage of swearing normally prevalent in dancehall, but the lyric “What is going on in the world these days, terrorist wars and girls getting raped” is too grave to sit comfortably within a simple upbeat track. It’s a similar tale with Miss Smith, about drug addiction, with the line: “So where are you going Miss Smith, to go to Mr Brown to get a next hit?” Trying to sound serious behind an upbeat sunny sound doesn’t work for me.
Also, singing lyrics such as “just let me get this straight we’ll meet at half past eight” to the melody of Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 is either toe-curlingly cheap or a hilarious joke. The girls know how to have a laugh though. Girl Talk features the amusing line: “Went shopping today to buy my Louis Vuitton, I look god damn good and I got it going on.”
Tenza, Kizzi and Emma can belt out some kick-ass songs as the two singles on the album show. They have got a great sound, but to hear that same sound in 13 tracks falls a little flat. Saying that, the girls have a six-album deal with Def Jam records, so there is ample time for them to develop and mature their music. I for one shall look forward to when that time comes.