SEYCHELLES: Black Queen - Dezil'
Updated: Nov 1, 2021
Party rhythms and good times in store on an album with a much faster tempo than its makers' homeland's giant tortoises
As a big reggae and dancehall fan, it was fair to say that I was a little bit dubious when I received the recommendation from the Seychellois quarter Dezil’ purely because I have heard the perils of artists away from Jamaica trying to leave their mark on the genre and doing so unsuccessfully. Though the album doesn’t pull-up trees with its innovation, that is not necessarily a bad thing. Rather, the album does what a lot of the best reggae/dancehall albums do, containing within it a very entertaining time in store for the listener. What Dezil’ do so brilliantly is stick to the core of making fun music but put their own spin on it, making me very curious to discover more reggae with a similar fast tempo and pop sensibility. What’s more, the very fact that the album was genuinely enjoyable on its own terms wasn’t the only surprise that the album had in store for me.
“Energy is a key word that can be used to describe many of the highpoints in the album...”
Having noticed that one of the songs on the album was seemingly a big hit due to the number of plays it had on Spotify (where I first listened to the album), I was trepidatious that the band would merely be a one-hit wonder who recorded an otherwise average album to profit off the success of their bestselling track. However, the first time I listened to the record it became apparent that this was far from the case. For a start, though Sans Ou (La Riviere) reached #2 in the French charts, rather impressively for a song sung in Seychellois Creole, it was not even my favourite track. For me, the album is full of great nuggets spanning across a different range of styles; from the poppy Nou vin pli, the pure dancehall Reggaetone All Over to the most traditional reggae song Dan mon regar the album has something for everyone.
My pick of the bunch, however, would be Black Queen. In some ways the song is representative of everything that I love about the album, in that the band bring a high energy to most of the album that typically only debutants can muster. Energy is a key word that can be used to describe many of the highpoints in the album, particularly Sandra Esparon’s soulful voice which often cuts through her male counterparts rapping and harmonising; I particularly love it when she avoids singing in English, opting for French and Creole, on two dancehall numbers, the opener Elle s'appelle Sandra and Wine Girl. However, in the case of the group this is not just because they were debutants but rather teenagers who as of today are still only group from the Seychelles to get signed to a major international label.
When they were kids Martin Lebon, Micheal Savy, Juan Romain and the aforementioned Esparon were clearly high achievers, with Lebon a young karate champion and Romain part of the junior national football team. Their talent spanning across many fields, with Romain since fulfilling his dream of being a pilot, speaks to the difficulty in gaining international recognition and pursuing a thriving international music career when from a small nation without a thriving industry. The reality is that whilst the four teenagers had their moment in the sun, there are likely to be many other talented souls from countries like the Seychelles. Yet, the opportunity to break the mould on the global stage is incredibly difficult. The sad part is that their hit Sans Ou was one of the only songs they were allowed to write themselves and instead had to depend on pre-written tunes from Caribbean composers. Fortunately, after a long hiatus the band are now back together and hopefully they can once again re-enter the global public consciousness alongside other talented youngsters from their homeland.