GONGO ASO – 9ICE
We were getting used to seeing him as the bonafide hooks man – the kinda singer whose cameo appearance on a song automatically catapults it into ‘hit-dom’. And many were scared on his behalf: will he end up like Pasto Goody Goody (who comes correct, featuring on other artistes’ songs, but never pulls it off with his own solo projects)? Or will he become like Akon (who comes correct all times – either on his own offering, or on others’)?
Now, with his second solo album, 9ice has put all worries to rest. Not only does he come absolutely correct on ‘gongo aso’, the bestselling album that has thrown him into international consciousness; he has even established his feet more firmly than all the acts he has featured for.
His first album ‘Certificate’ had a couple of bangers (like pass me the ganja and little money) and many fillers. But on Gongo Aso, 9ice had no room for fillers. From street credibility to photocopy, pamurogo and gongo aso, to ade ori, party rider, Kasa final and wedding day, 9ice and his producer ID Cabasa leave no stones unturned in letting us know they mean business.
If you thought traditional music was dying, long overwhelmed by urbane music, Gongo Aso is the album that’ll make you remove your jacket, do three summersaults in the air, as you rejoice and merry. 9ice finds a brilliant way to fuse elements of juju, Fuji into his otherwise urbane sound. And he packs so much proverbs, philosophy and lore into every verse he’ll make even some professors of Yoruba pause the CD and ask: ‘what was that he just said?’
VERDICT: A sure contender for album of the year!
U KNOW MY P – NAETO C
It is unfortunate that Obi Asika is closing down Storm Record at a time when Naeto C is dropping his debut album. Because, really, this appears to be one of the few Storm album that might guarantee return on investment.
‘U know my P’ has been long in coming, but the wait has been worth it.
Forget the fact that the rapper and his crew successfully used new media (facebook, myspace and blogs) to generate a pre-launch hype like never before; forget the fact his official album launch was described by many as ‘off the hook’.
Let’s face the music: the 16 track LP Naeto C has been cooking for years. The Abuja-based rapper does not pretend to be a thug, he doesn’t pretend like he’s got some indecipherable poetry under his belt; and he definitely does not attempt to incorporate all those ‘naija elements’ in order to appeal to the ghettoes. Naeto tells us he is his own man on U know my P, dropping his lines with precision, flowing smoothly like Jay Z and portraying the lifestyle of the urbane Nigerian kid.
Of course he’s got a lot of help from Wande Coal, Ikechukwu, Don Jazzy and TY Mix – folks who understand the mind-set of today’s music buyer. But all through the album, Naeto retains his persona, stamping his signature all over.
U know my p is not the kind of album tat blow the roof and send the entire nation into a frenzy, but lovers of real hip hop will embrace this one with open arms. Already, the first singles U know my P and kini big deal are catching on – if you like these two, you’ll like the remainder of the album; especially Ashewo, One for me ( both ft. Wande Coal) and Superman
Unfortunately, the album could have done without the experiment with Saro Wiwa on E mara mma… great concept for a highlife-hip hop mesh, but something about it just didn’t work out!
VERDICT: Great production, great delivery. Great debut!
AFRICAN GIRL – NAYO
First time you hear her sing, you think you’ve heard her before. Nayo has this exotic, familiar sound that gets you nodding and humming, thinking you’re singing along to her soft, calming lyrics, even though you may never have heard her song before.
That feeling is unmistaken on her debut Album African girl. The UK-based singer sings from the depth of her soul. And in an era where almost all the ladies are taking their clothes off, tempting us to feast on flesh, rather than notes, Nayo, just like Asa and TY Bello, is a refreshing act to look out for.
From ‘desert storm’ to ‘African girl’, and other cuts off her debut, Nayo reminds you of what a singer should be; while the music dares you put take your finger close to the stop button.
VERDICT : Brilliant; if you like Asa, and Sade and Dido – you’ll like this one!
ETCETERA – ETCETERA
Is it possible for one man to have it all? Well, if you’ve met etcetera, it’s likely you’ll scream yes…!
The debutante sings effortlessly, he strums like a wizard, croons like a veteran and performs like the gods of music have consumed his soul.
And guess what? What comes out of his debut CD is the kind of music many have sworn will never thrive in Nigeria. Etcetera is 15-tracked collection of soft rock, deep blues that at times wanders into reggae territories, and even a bit of calypso! Etcetera’s sound may make you think of Aerosmiths this minute, Jim reeves the next, and even Robin Thicke (or Bryan Adams!) a while later, but the singer retains a style uniquely his – a guitar-driven sound, mostly solo vocals, and a fusion of African elements alien to his contemporaries world over.
2ND TURNING BY THE RIGHT- LORD OF AJASA
Lord of Ajasa is one of Nigeria’s most gifted lyricists. And it’s surprising that it’s taking him so long to attract mainstream acceptance. One of the first rappers to construct verses in a local language, Ajasa has won fans from Lagos to Los Angeles while rapping in his native Yoruba.
And now, he’s back with another body of work. The queerly titled album is Ajasa as well all know him, except that he soaks his lyrics in more humour, more metaphors, and – obviously to spread his fan base- he goes multi-lingual on this one…
With support from 9ice, Jahbless, Konga, Tinny and 2Phat, Ajasa tries to make us nod our heads on ‘See Drama’, ‘Ara Awe’ and ‘Otimba’; he gets us thinking on ‘New era’ and ‘kekere’ and on ‘e sa lo bade’, you’ll know all he expects us to do is dump our sits and head for the dance floor.
Sadly, like the characteristic Ajasa album, the lyrics are impressive, the rapper true to himself, and his wit in no doubt; but there are not enough cuts to ensure the album leaps off the shelves. But if you do buy the album, be sure that you’ll enjoy ‘esa lo bade’, ara awe, ‘oti ya’ and ‘wetin’.
ENTER THE PLACE – 2FACE
Yes, 2face is out with a new EP, in preparation for his third solo LP.
And, truth be told, the first set of songs on ‘Enter The Place’ fall short of expectations
Don’t fret. 2face still has a way with his lyrics. He still has that eclectic style, and he delivers a song like he was born to do so (well, wasn’t he?). But, if you’ve heard the singer on Plantashun Boiz’ debut ‘Body & Soul; if you’ve heard him on ‘Face to Face’ and ‘Grass to Grace’, then you’ll be forgiven for expecting too much from the pop star’s third solo effort.
Funky Noise and Pako are below average cuts that could easily have been performed by 2face protégées Da Natives, Black Tribe or W4. And ‘anything’, although a notch better that the latter, follows the same pattern (not unsurprisingly, the song has a couple of 2face followers on it).
It is the title track ‘enter the place’ that saves this collection. Sound Sultan joins 2face to kill it on the song, providing another radio-club banger that fans will come to love in the coming weeks.
In case you’re wondering what the song is about, you can have this for a try: ‘…enter the place/ you don’t know what you might find…/ enter the place hook up with the girl with the biggest behind…/ when you see me, you think you know me, but you don’t know half of my story…/you enter the place with me/ na there you go start to give God the glory/… then we’ll see if your frown will turn to smile…/ I see you , I gbadun you/ girl I want make you let me/ enter the place, make we see whether you no go carry belle comot…’
It is uncertain if ladies will find that funny, or whether his ‘If you want to chuck/make you use condom submission (on pako) will not be deemed an affront (2face has four kids from two different women, and is believed not to favour condoms); but it is guaranteed that many will love the melody, humour and groove on ‘enter the place’. What more? This is just a tip off the iceberg: the singer has collabos with R.kelly, Sway, Beenie Man coming on the full album. Let’s believe Mr Idibia is saving the best for last. For, if the rest of the songs on the album are like what this EP presents, I’m afraid, trouble may be on the way…
ACROSS THE BRIDGE – MR KOOL
Producers OJB, ID Cabasa, Rymzo, SoSo and Albert Kalu join Mr Kool to cook soothing R&B cuts on this well-put-together 12-tracker.
Mr Kool has been around longer than anyone can imagine, he’s been consistent, yet he’s yet to hit it big. His last album ‘Still Kool’ earned critical acclaim, but failed to move impressive units. Now, Kool is back with another collection of songs he hopes will make fans across the world notice him.
And he doesn’t just prove his songwriting and singing prowess on ‘Across the bridge’; he tells us he’s matured over the years, and he finds a way separate romance from love, and love from sex.
Unfortunately, the appearance of Daddy Showkey (on Boogie woogie fever) did little to elevate the song; while Albert Kalu (on Ku Yak mi) simply dragged an otherwise cool cut back to the 80s… in fact, except for the Ruggedman collabo, the weakest tracks on the album is where there are guest appearances
ME, MUSIQ N I – BLACKFACE
Blackface’s talent is never in doubt. But how come the ex-Plantashun Boy is yet
to find a formula that’ll work in favour of his career?
The singer-rapper’s new work dangles between dancehall, pop/R&B, reggae and afrobeat – a sure sign that he is yet to find his comfort zone, still experimenting after over a decade in the game.( former colleagues 2face and Faze have since settled for reggae-pop)
But while he may not have found his feet musically, Black packs so much message, activism and consciousness into his verses. So ignore the fact that he could go off-key from time to time, he may fall flat delivering his lines, and the beat may be annoyingly monotonous. Just listen to the lyrics, ignore the melody and the instrumental – that’s the only way you’ll enjoy ‘Me Musiq N I’.
If you’re looking for a few outstanding tracks, check out: ghetto girls, erema
MR CAPABLE – BANKY W
Since he returned home last year, he’s been touted by pundits as the ‘next big thing’. Now, it’s time to know whether Banky Wellington has got substance, or he’s just all about hype.
Mr Capable solves the puzzle. The singer’s debut leaves no one on doubt that he can sing. Banky imports his calm, rich-kid demeanour into his music, delivering slow tempo ballads, occasionally upbeat Rhythm and blues, and a lot of melody.
With near-excellent songwriting, brilliant production and sequencing, Mr Capable will soft you up, lure you to cuddle up in bed as you fantasize about a romance that never-will-be – well, until your mood is interrupted by the weak collabo with fuji star Adewale Ayuba.
Ayuba tries but fails to repeat the Jazzman Olofin magic on Mr Capable, dragging the album’s performance to an abysmal low…
That aside, everyone that has a heart to love; everyone that likes a good song will like most of the cuts on Mr Capable…
VERDICT: Good Start!
MAKING HITZ – KAHA
For a while now, we’ve been looking for someone to follow in 2face’s footsteps. We almost thought no one was up to the task until Kaha dropped ‘Heart robber’ and we realised we may have been looking in the wrong direction.
The single, which-aptly- features 2face, is one of the best cuts to hit radio this year, and if you can’t stop falling in love with the melody, you may need to listen to Kaha’s full album.
Underground for so many years, the cat has spent so much time honing his skills, working on his craft that right now, it’s so certain he’s ready to glide straight into mainstream acceptance.
Pick the excellent Igbo intro ballad (chukwu), the pseudo reggae ‘Heart robber’ (Ft 2face Idibia) or Ghetto, and Kaha’s talent will jump at you; making you ask the question we’ve all been asking; where has he been all this while!
Truth be told, ‘Making Hitz’ is one of the finest debuts this year. But coming from an act that’s been around for close to a decade; is anyone surprised? Of course no!
VERDICT: GREAT DEBUT
MUSIC BUSINESS – 2SHOTZ
Rapper 2shotz has worked for all he’s earned in the industry. But he hasn’t yet got all he’s worked for. As one-half of Foremen ( a nineties rap due made up of himself and 2ply), 2shotz was already making hits and winning laurels while most rappers today were still unsure whether to plunge into the rap game or not.
And when he took the solo route, he became one of the few rappers to make rapping in vernacular fashionable. 2shotz either likes to keep it real, or he knows no other way to ply his trade.
Two failed albums (‘pirated copy’ and ‘original copy’), a failed deal with Storm records, and inevitable career low saw the rapper take the exit doors –with a promise to be back.
Now, 2shotz is back- armed with the album that’ll determine the present and the future of his career. He retains the characteristic ‘Umunamu’ formula on ‘Music Business’, gets vocal and production help from Timaya, Terry G, 9ice and Big Lo; and succeeds in delivering an album that should make up for lost time.
VERDICT: ABOVE AVERAGE
JIGGA’S WORLD – OJB
OJB Jezreel has built a thriving career for himself as Nigeria’s most-respected producer. But has his singing career earned him as much acclaim? Nah!
The 41 year old singer-producer is still battling to win fans over, despite having previously dropped two brilliant R&B albums.
It appears there’s something about OJB’s singing that fans have yet to come to terms with. Perhaps we’re all just used to having him behind the consoles, rather than on stage.
But he’s convinced that he’s on the right path. And now, he’s polished his art finer, spent more time in the studios lacing beats and dropping vocals, putting together materials that’ll reveal the new colour of his sound.
The result is a new set of songs he titles ‘Jigga’s World’.
For the most part of the album, Jigga comes correct, singing his heart out on cuts that swing between R&B, dancehall and pop. But the overall production quality falls short of a man that has helped hundreds of acts (including 2face and Ruggedman) make hits…
VERDICT: Above Average
RETURN OF THE KING – EEDRIS ABDULKAREEM
His last album ‘Mr president’ was an absolute failure. Four years after hi December 4, 2008 airport altercation with the G-Unit crew, Eedris is still paying the price of his mis-deed. Now, he’s back with another album where, like he has become known for, he says one thing this minute, and contradicts it the next.
Okay, so the music is not fantastic, the message blurry, and the lyrics pathetic. But, didn’t we all agree to ‘forgive him for past sins’, pretend like nothing ever happened, and buy his album like it was the best thing since Thriller?
So, forget the rating; forget the reviews, forget what the next man next to you thinks. Just buy a copy. (Don’t worry, you don’t have to play it; and if you do, you may consider reducing the volume so neighbours don’t sue you for noise pollution)
VERDICT: JUST BUY!
BACK AND BETTER – STYL PLUS
Yes, STYL Plus is back. But, unlike the title suggests, not any better than their first and second albums.
The once-upon-a-time R&B saviours are stuck in the middle of their career, and the new body of work makes it look like they haven’t found the way up on the map.
A very touching tale, a conscious attempt to capture a wider fan base, a few good-could-have-been-better cuts, and the all-familiar trio harmony; yet the album itself tells you it lacks the infectious melody of Olufunmi, runaway, or Imagine That –all cuts that established the group as a trio to die for.
This album may be getting scathing reviews, the boys getting unanimous bashing for failing to promote the ‘Expressions’ album, and for following it up with a less-excellent album, but if you listen to track one on ‘Back&Better’, you’ll realise that, whatever happens STYL Plus has one thing going for her: isn’t she the only group whose members have not fallen apart?
EVERYTHING REMAINS RAW – DAT NIGGA RAW
Since he stepped into the Nigerian music scene, there has been no looking back for the energetic indigene of Abia state. When his hit single ‘Obodo’ which featured comedian, klint da drunk debuted, it was as if that was the best he could offer, but Nigga raw proved all speculations wrong.
And now, with his sophomore album, ‘Everything Remains Raw’, Dat Nigga Raw has proved sceptics wrong again. From ‘My Name’ to ‘Ko Gbadun’ to ‘Ara ga agba ndi ara’ to ‘strong and mighty’ all the way to run things, the 12-track album leaves you nodding your head and slamming your feet even when you do not understand the languge.
After listening to this album, you would agree that he is to the Igbos what Lord of Ajasa is to the Yorubas.