By Udochukwu Ikwuagwu
Album: Street OT
Label: YBNL Nation
Features: Pasuma, Lil Kesh, Viktoh, Don Jazzy, Chinko Ekun, Phyno, Reminisce, B-Banks, Chuka, Pepenazi
Producers: Pheelz, B-Banks and Young John
Olamide is no doubt one of the hard-working music artistes in Nigeria; for one who has released four solo albums in four years, his work ethics remain unrivaled. On his fourth offering, Street OT, he sticks to his YBNL signees and affiliates- Viktoh, Lil Kesh, Chinko Ekun, B-Banks. Like “Baddest Guy Ever Liveth”, Pheelz produces most of the singles; Reminisce and Phyno, familiar faces, stop by for this ‘roadshow’. Unlike his past albums, this lacks the killer punch, and sees Olamide struggling to keep it from being a tiring adventure. Throwaway beats layer the beat collection- a range of lucklustre to mediocre production present its motif.
Street OT is vapid, uninspiring, bland and monotonous. You get the feeling that diminishing returns have set in for our favorite rapper, as he puffs and huffs with little to show. The cover art tells of the absence of creativity and predicts the art direction of the album itself- the first port of call for any music experience should be the cover art, and sadly, the artistry displayed gives little excitement. For a street-inspired catalogue, one would have expected something different from the stoner/pothead-inspired cover; ‘head in clouds’ imagery that Danny Brown, Wiz Khalifa, Snoop Dogg and Jhené Aiko would be proud of. Although Olamide sticks to themes of hustle (‘bangers’ anthems and yahoo-yahoo homage), hardship and coming of age, wealth (blowing money fast) and street-love (love for hookers and escorts, one-night stands and cannabis), the album stretches an already short creativity line.
The album is littered with used ideas and concepts, thereby becoming uninteresting- a rehash. There are a few bright moments, here and there, but not enough to save the project from sinking in a deep sea of dreariness and tedium. Dearth of innovation in song crafting isn’t the only drag, the poor production, mixing and mastering help to drown interest in an abyss of boredom.
Olamide has been known to flood the musical space with ‘fresh’ songs before his new album moves off the shelf. He premiered ‘Young Erikina’ few months after ‘Rapsodi’; ‘Tonto Dikeh’, ‘Rayban Abacha’, ‘The Game’, etc while fans were still perusing the ‘Yahoo Boy No Laptop’ audio-file; ‘Dansaki’, ‘Our Lord Jesus’, ‘Jogodo’ and ‘Ko Duro Be’ quickly killed the ‘Baddest Guy Ever Liveth’ buzz, this typifies poor A&R’ing. Being ubiquitous works for a while before the musical presence becomes a nuisance. Olamide needs to “make himself scarce”, so fans will appreciate his ‘hustle’ and anticipate his new materials more.
Oga Nla, an epithet of Pasuma, opens the album, and true to his moniker, Pasuma breathes life into this (“Ekabo sile agbara paseko/Won ni mo’leruku, mo ni disciples/Teba rimi eye ma s’ote…Won ni mo carry shoulder soke, mo gan apa/Oga nla, Oga nla (Boss)”); the hook is the only memorable moment. Olamide’s rappity rap saves the reggae-inspired Zero Joy from falling flat. He spews: “Omo ole laso ko tun lakisa bi agba/Oya kalamagbo niyen, je n mu e lo Yaba…Eyan lasan ko ni mi/Eye ma fimi we awon rapper/Oye ki won ma poruko mi b’on ba n pe Sango at’Obatala, b’on ba ti n pe Fela, Femi Kuti, pelu Lucky Dube, Bob Marley, Biggie Smalls, TuPac abi TuFace”. Olamide’s lyrical ability isn’t in question, but when he tries to revisit “Voice of the Street” on Hood Rap, the outcome leaves much to be desired even with his effort. The opera-infusion is played out on Ogan Nla, Prayer for Client, Hustle Loyalty Respect and Eni Suun; these pieces end up predictable and tedious. Polishing of old ideas shows up on The Real MVP, as the melodies ‘bite’ “Position Yourself”. Squeals are also overused on this project (on Up in the Club, Skelemba and Bang) making it mind-numbing. Although on the Viktoh-assisted Up in the Club, Olamide breaks from trite ideas (it could be argued that this is similar to Soulja Boy’s “Crank That”), and renews interest. He tells a humorous story of ‘one of those nights’ at the club, with hookers willing to participate in inebriated sex. Viktoh’s Esan-peppered verse is a delight, though. ‘The Lady of the Night’ gets three nights in a row- Falila Ketan and Story for the Gods. Apart from production being elementary on Street OT, some beats were a rip-off: 100 to Million benefitted from Rick Ross’ “Stay Schemin’” and The Roots’ “Tomorrow”; In My Circle fed off Drake’s “The Motto”. Still, Olamide finds a way to swim in these (production) muddy waters telling personal tales of his dad’s near-death experience on the sombre 1999, and pouring out gin for lost pals on 100 to Million.
Chinko Ekun had the fun of his life, stealing moments on Bang, Usain Bolt P and 100 to Million. On the latter he raps: “Iya jemi, iku ma tu fe bososi/Won ni my life is a mess, oga Chinko so wa busosi?/Tisa kan foju di mi, oni mi ole make e/Oni industry ba ti kebe gan, mi ole shake e/O dunmi, o dunmi wonu egun/But taba wo din dun ifo, a ma rora denu egun/Ha, I dey cry, I dey sad/Se bemi na re?/Mo bo lori track pelu Baddoo/Omode toba mowo we, oma bagba jeun/Eni to mo clipper tunse, dandan a ba barber jeun”.
It has become public knowledge that Alaba marketers made Olamide release this album; but there is a time when supply exceeds demand, resulting in a glut. At that point, Olamide’s relevance and worth will diminish affecting his brand image.
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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