While doing the promotional rounds for her Rebelution album in late 2006, singer Tanya Stephens stressed the importance of dancehall music exploring issues outside the crime and sex which have made it infamous.
"We need to have a more open mind in dancehall. When thereare artistes out there who come with something different, don't kick it, embrace it," she told The Gleaner.
The 'different' topics Stephens tackled on her two landmark albums, Gangsta Bluesand Rebelution, can be heard on Tanya Stephens: A Collection of Hits, a compilation of her biggest songs, released last week by VP Records.
The CD features Stephens' rise from seductress to dancehall poet. It is accompanied by a DVD showcasing some of her music videos but it is the songs, mainly from the aforementioned albums, that get star billing.
The 17-track set does not contain Big Things a Gwaan, the Dave Kelly-produced song which announced the St Mary-born singer in 1994. But, there is room for Yuh Nuh Ready Fi Dis Yet, another Kelly dance anthem from 1997, as well as the explicit Goggle.
Stephens has been a major force in dancehall for almost 20 years. But for an ill-fated stint with a Scandinavian record company that yielded the techno-based Sintoxicated album, she has maintained a chart presence in Jamaica and the United States.
Her career really took off in 2004 with Gangsta Blues, which got strong reviews in the US from publications like the Village Voice and Vibe.
Stephens shed her bawdy image on Gangsta Blues, and wrote issue-oriented songs like It's A Pity, The Other Cheek and Can't Breathe.
That trend continued two years later on Rebelution with the gritty ballad, These Streets, and Spilled Milk, which deals with a failed relationship.
These five songs are also included on A Collection of Hits.
A new album by Stephens is reportedly in the works and is scheduled to be released this year.
Source: The Jamaica Gleaner