Tag Archive for: Falz

Album Review: On Falz’s Third LP Album, 27

On October 27, 2017, Falz clocked 27 and he celebrated his new age by dropping an album called 27. Dropping a surprise album will always be cool. It is a pity Beyoncé already immortalised this practice by lending it her name for our times.

At 17 songs (2 bonus tracks included) lasting two minutes shy of an hour, Falz put himself out on his B-Day to borrow from American Rapper Wayne’s rhymes. With Sess the Problem Kid producing 65 percent of the new album and cameo productions credits from Demsa, Studio Magic, Spax, Juls and Malik Berry, the 27 album could have bene numerically apt with 27 songs. Perhaps this will be a stretch on Falz’s concept, but no matter, 17 songs will do.

27 has the self-assuredness of a third album. Beginning with Polished, Falz adds the British accent to his arsenal of humour. His verses are the exact opposite of self-effacing. He brags about his sophistication with a promise. This song is not Kabiyesi, it is only a few paces behind it.

La Fête continues Falz’s linguistic exploitations with his florid attempt at French. At this point, it is clear Falz is having the time of his life on this album but his music isn’t. His music seems to have hit a plateau since Stories That Touch, coasting smoothly at a rather lazy pace.

Perhaps a better analogy will be to say Falz has found the perfect cocktail mix. Add Humour to real life events. Check for political correctness. Code-mix slowly. Switch if necessary. Check Sess. Wham! Music is ready.

There is a niggling itch that this album comes from a place of complacency, not compulsion. There are moments of elegance here, trust me. Every so often, Falz doles some decent couplets that quickly follow a few laugh out loud moments. Songs like Something Light (the amazing rap duet with Ycee), The Lamba Song and Get Me stand out. Surprisingly, disappointing moments are few. What abounds are moments of disapproval.

Burna Boy couldn’t save Alright. Cliché couldn’t save Child of the World. It is nice to see Sir Dauda (remember him from Aramide’s Suitcase?) assisting on two songs Boogie and Confirm but these songs move the zeitgeist sideways, not forward. And, for the umpteenth time, Falz insists on his two-ness: his ability to flow in English and Yoruba like it is some kind of lofty accomplishment.

No, sir. Proficiency in Yoruba and English has been with us since Bishop Ajayi Crowther.

Falz hardly calls himself the Bahd guy anymore but he has neither lost his lens-less eyeglasses or humour. Full marks for timely arrival, 27 is a long time coming since Stories That Touch (released 2015) but STT is a tough act to beat. That album belongs in the realm of classic sophomores. With the daring and dumbfounding energy of a panther, this LP leapt on us and we have memories of songs like Karashika (part 1 and 2), Chardonnay Music and the elegant zeitgeist-defining Soft Work.

Every creative has got a story and Falz can’t deny his middle-class upbringing. There are no struggle stories to embrace. Instead, there are stories about dualities. English and Yoruba. Lawyer and Rapper. Player and Lover. Good Kid and Street Smarts. But three albums later, these stories hardly touch.

Simisola, The Chanteuse from Ondo Town

There is the coming-of-age album and there is the coming-to-stay album. Usually, there is an interregnum between the two, a time of experimentation and quiet transition. For Simisola Ogunleye, the Chanteuse from Ondo Town, this period was more experimental than silent.

Her coming of age album, Ogaju, a 10 track gospel album released in 2006, was produced by Samklef. Those in the know will remember Ara Ile, that delightful Funky Yoruba Gospel Song of divine adulation on heavy rotation on the makeshift campus fellowships. Those who had been converted to the discipline of listening to Nigerian sounds will, at least, remember her sophomore effort, a five track EP album Restless, best described these days as an Alternative Music Mixtape.

Between Restless, in 2012 and now, to state the obvious, five years and Chemistry, a duet album with rapper Falz has passed. Simi has moved from been an indie musician to inking a record label deal. Her silky voice has become an unmistakable household fixture in Nigerian Music.

At that core of her musicianship is a dedication to her sound and craft, to message and meaning. She embodies that Nigerian experience, especially that of the South-Western region in her ability to code-switch and energize her lyrics with Naijaspeak, harmonies and comical asides.

Simisola, her album named for herself, dropped without much warning, out of the proverbial blues, and this did not make it any less anticipated. Before its final arrival, there has been a steady stream of singles that led to its first official single, Joromi.

Joromi sounds familiar ewithout a first listen. Sir Victor Uwaifo had a 70s hits with the same name that will still sway a middle-aged crowd till date, but naming is almost where similarities with Simi’s song ends. There are no fairy tales here, and even if there is, it is a modern one: Girl meets Boy, Joromi, and is attracted. She is giving him her phone digits and instructing him to call. The song is a melodious call and response girded by a strong sense of guitars, a subtle tribute to Uwaifo’s Joromi is craftily hidden. This song updates musical influences from the 70s of Fela through the delightful languid Lagos of Lagbaja to the current contemporary wave of hip-hop fusion.

Simisola has 12 new songs with the usual bonus of previous hits, Love don’t care, Tiff and Jamb Question. It misses E No Go Funny which probably belongs on this LP. Lasting about 53 minutes, this album reflects on familiar experiences and wears Simi’s musical influences rather proudly.

Remind me, the first song, is a reflective song yoked around the Christianly maxim, ‘Love your neigbour as yourself’. Of course, Simi undertakes a loose interpretation of neigbour, subtly offering a didactic proposition to her listeners. She quickly skips to the delightful Joromi and Aimako, a remake of Chief Commander Obey’s evergreen song.

The similarities between Simisola and Adekunle Gold’s self-titled album are unmistakable. They have 15 tracks each. They are both self-titled. Both albums feature one artist, Simi in Adekunle Gold’s case and vice versa. Oscar’s production credit is unmistakable. Ditto for the alchemy of the sound and the entire album’s creative direction. Here is music that is deeply Nigerian from mannerisms to modulations.

This album hardly strays away from love: from forlorn love (Complete me), to titillating forbidden love (One Kain) to the afrobeat-tinged unpretentious and uncompromising love (Original love) to apologetic love (Take Me Back, a duet with Adekunle Gold) to dance-hall raga inflected long-suffered and tired love (Angelina).

Simisola revolves around all the dimensions of love coming full circle and the affection with which she sings theses love scenarios is heart-rending. The music also rises to the occasion, breathing delightful rhythms to the real-life situation lovers undergo.

Whenever the album strays away from love, it embodies Yoruba value and virtues. Aimasiko stands out for its exciting use of the talking drum. This song updates juju music, capitalising on nostalgia and giving it full-bodied rhythm and relevance.

Trust Simi to poke fun at the vivacity of the Yorubas. O wa nbe used to be a more nuanced conversation about waist beads and crisp notes, but these days it only marks party presence. Regardless of Simi’s mockery, the good old Yoruba party will be alright.

The album is not without flaws.  With the mid-tempo heavily percussive HipHop Hurray, the album hits a kind of nadir. It is saved from ending in an anti-climax by bonus tracks.

With Simisola, Simi has come to stay, to state the obvious again. She brings along with her an arsenal of vocal range that can hop from a love ballad to a highlife medley. If there is any vocal powerhouse that Simi can be compared to, it will be the Ego of the Lagbaja fame.

In conclusion, to merge nurture with nature, there must be something in the water at Ondo Town.