By Udochukwu Ikwuagwu
Artiste: Yemi Alade
Album: King of Queens
Label: Effyzzie Music Group
Features: Bovi, Mugeez (of R2Bees), Phyno, Chidinma, Dil and Selebobo
Producers: Selebobo, GospelOnDeBeatz, Dil, Young D, OJB Jezreel, Sizzle Pro, Shady Bizniz, Philkeyz, Mr. Chido, Fliptyce, El Emcee and Beat Nation
That Yemi Alade can sing is not in question, and should be a non-issue. Time again, the Peak Talent Show winner has shown her vocal dexterity on not a few records- DJ Klem’s Farabale, Yung 6ix’s Lights, Falz’ Marry Me, Fliptyce’s Gimme Some More, etc. That she can make good music as a solo artiste is one she’s put to rest with singles Ghen Ghen Love and Bamboo receiving critical acclaim. Her pop-culture relevance and popularity have proved she is one to be reckoned with in the Nigerian music industry. Over the past year, her music has penetrated sectors where pop music was previously considered nonsensical, crossing borders to reach fans in Ghana, Kenya, South-Africa, etc with massive fan base building; even the online community has felt her pulse with her ‘Johnny’ video recording over 1 million hits. The question then: Can Yemi Alade make a good album?
The cover art sells a glamorous image akin to a runway model for a fashion début. The elaborate imagery tells of the project itself- showier than its content can back. Her debut album, King of Queens, opens with the chart-topping Johnny whose success is hinged on the catchy hook- “I’m looking for my Johnny/Where is my Johnny? (Johnny Mo!)/Do you know Johnny? (Question)/If I no see my Johnny/Que veu dire fefe geme”. The employed repetitive lyrics over an up-tempo Selebobo-crafted beat, which pays homage to the forgotten Terry G-KSolo years, is the rallying point of the record. The success of the song (the infectious chorus), also, is credited to the hackneyed melodies- melodies popularized by Wizkid’s Caro. This pop pattern is overused on Tangerine– the up-tempo beat laid for sparse, unimaginative lyrics; albeit, likeable. The Selebobo-productions on the album’s official singles were bland and unmemorable.
However, Yemi Alade breaks from this routine on the reggae-inspired Why. “Why don’t you tell me you love me no more?/Baby, I need to know/Why you no dey tell me say you love me, oh boy?/I know you do, but I just can’t know,” she sings smoothly. The English-Pidgin back-and-forth fills the song with needed excitement. She continues this off-pop-routine on the ‘90s-influenced R&B Duro Timi where she pleads with a lover to stay: “Baby, duro timi oh (duro timi)/’Cos I love you (duro timi)”, she continues “Oh, my days ain’t the same/My nights ain’t the same/My life feels so empty since the day that you walked away.” Her powerful rendition is testimony to her vocal prowess, as she makes delivery look so easy.
On the sensual Catch You, she sings in a sultry voice inviting a love-interest to a lust-filled night while she affirms her sexual prowess, although of a slightly-inferior hue to her lover’s. The tune is a torn page off the erotica and should be a new soundtrack for tryst. Her flirtation with different sounds is not all successful as things go awry on the Northern-flavoured I Like and the Electro-Pop & Afro-Pop concoction Money. The experimentation spins half-baked songs founded on poor execution. The need to cater to her Francophone fan base following the success of Johnny (French Version) results in the horrible-sounding Sugar. The Coupé Décalé-inspired song falls flat, failing to impress; her toe-curling lyrics, responsible. It is not all bad dreams, as she rescues the album on the piano-ballad Fall in Love. The Yemi Alade-Dil duet, Temperature, offers the album’s highlight. “When I tell you say na you dey rock my world, I no dey lie (I no dey lie at all)/When I tell you say na you dey rock am, baby, I no dey lie (I no dey lie at all),” she sings sonorously while he responds: “When you tell me say na you dey rock my world, make I no lie/E dey sweet me die/When you tell me say na you dey rock am, baby, make I no lie/E dey sweet me die.” The Igbo/Pidgin English-peppered bridge and hook give color to the already beatific experience.
Yemi Alade’s King of Queens suffers from the problem of too many cooks behind the production board and too many half-executed ideas. The album is scattered with so many experimentation of sounds and flirtation with different genres; in an attempt to appeal to several, the album ends up with dud tracks. The production on this album wasn’t memorable- a range of lacklustre to mediocre beats represented its motif. Occasionally, the beat selection was spot on like the Dil-produced Temperature, Sizzle Pro-produced Duro Timi, and Fliptyce-produced K.I.N.G interlude; but, overall the production and mixing were sub-par. The beat collection from 12 producers (including 9 sound engineers) left much to be desired. The outcome: a cacophony of some sort. The album lacked a theme even though she touched on Love and Lust, Braggadocio and Money, she failed to impress on these subjects. The album was littered with party-starters that eventually served as a drag to the project. At times, songwriting and performance were brilliant and commendable; other times, they were flat. Guest appearances, save for the Dil feature, added little to advance the project. In all, these missteps are pardonable for a debut album. Yemi Alade’s King of Queens still offers a listening pleasure.
Udochukwu writes from Ibadan. You can catch him listening to different genres of music on his iPod or buying CDs at your popular music store when he’s not working.
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