Caribbean music styles have received much fanfare on mainstream radio of late, and female artists are once again getting the attention they deserve. Back in the '90s, singer/DJs like Tonya Stephens, Sasha, Miss Thing, and Lady Saw frequently played supporting roles for Elephant Man, Sean Paul, Beenie Man, and the like. Now that Def Jam's hot, young, island item Rihanna is upping the ladies' profile, other island divas who are mixing it up pop-R&B-dancehall style are ready to bounce back. Miramar High School graduate and South Florida-based singer/DJ Maxine Reyes is poised to make the leap.
Lukewarm ballads aside, her debut LP Life... Celebrate to the Max excites with bump-and-grind slow jams like "Slowrider," where she flips a double-time dancehall bridge, and the midtempo "Wickedest Man," a one-drop reggae tune getting airplay on Jamaica's Irie FM and Broward's Vibes 101.9-FM. Her flirty, girlish voice has a simple J.C. Lodge quality in the teasing "Cool Me Down." From time to time, her DJ skills outshine her singing (which occasionally lacks body and pitch, as in the Spanish/English reggaeton romp "Feel the Beat"). For those looking to dance the wind, "If You Want Me" will supply your need. The Arabian acoustic guitars harken Panjabi MC's "Beware the Boys," just the thing over a sweet, bare-bones beat. But who needs Panjabi when you've got "hot girl" Maxine riding the riddim like a champion, chatting, "Not like me ask you fe put on a ring/Straight-up fun is all I'm asking/Come on and put it on me hardcore/Boy when you try me, you'll come back for more." And she's right -- Maxine's lust for Life is worth a second look.
Maxine sings the national anthem to open the Florida Marlins game against the L.A. Dodgers at 7 p.m. Friday, August 19, at Dolphins Stadium, 2269 NW 199th St., Miami. Tickets cost $8 to $195. Visit www.ticketmaster.com.
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