When R City broke big this summer with their radio-killing, Top 10-charting Adam Levine collaboration “Locked Away,” it would have been fair to expect a very pop-oriented set from their debut album, What Dreams Are Made Of. The Virgin Islands duo had signed to pop kingpin Dr. Luke’s Kemosabe label, and their previous efforts to release albums in the major-label system had all been shelved, presumably for lack commercial appeal. They could have just beat that “Locked Away“ formula to death, won over some more suburban housewives, and been on their way.
Instead, St. Thomas-raised brothers Timothy and Theron Thomas delivered a hard-hitting hip-hop and dancehall-fueled album full of undiluted Caribbean flavor. (The very first words, from opening track “Like This”: So you think you can diss the international badman dem?/Straight outta Virgin Islands, we don’t play no games with no kinda jokey bwoy) Sure, the writers behind Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” brought their bag of pop hooks, but there’s never a point on the album where their blend of pop, R&B, dancehall and hip-hop feels forced, or inauthentic. These dudes fit comfortably into all four worlds at once, without having to compromise one bit, and that is an impressive feat. It’s hard to think of any other albums, besides for possibly Sean Paul’s Dutty Rock, that have cracked that code successfully. On What Dreams Are Made Of, R City didn’t even really have to try. —Jesse Serwer