While Wizkid and Davido are prancing on the world stage, getting their well-deserved few minutes of international recognition, Nigerian indie and alternative artistes are soldiering on, soldering outstanding tunes often cut with sweat and blood.
The Extended Play (EP) album is fiercely independent and, when it packs the right punches, it is as effectual as its longer counterpart. In short, it offers indie artistes the luxury of profound exposure – little wonder they gravitate towards it.
About a week ago, Mojeed released his 19-minute EP album called In Search of Higher Frequencies. This comes three years after he released his debut EP under Aristokrat records label called Westernised West African. Putting out new material now means only one thing: the fount ain’t dry yet!
This EP is a shimmering beauty. Pointed in my direction from faraway America, one of the countries the Yoruba Rapper calls home, ISHF is fluid and sublime in equal parts.
The first song, In Search, feels like an interlude, and is the closest to an eponymous song. The use of the word ‘vibration’ brings to mind reggae tendencies but the influences wane thence. But even if this album is an odyssey, it is a short acoustic one.
Eko Atlantic stands out as a modern paean for Lagos but also offers the possibilities of a double entendre. Those in the know know what Eko Atlantic means: sand-filled ocean doubling as prime real estate. It is daredevilry, if you ask me, and Mojeed references this knowledge when he sings in Yoruba that as long as the water stays behind (i.e. in the background) we will be alright.
Featuring one half of Show Dem Camp, Tec, The Charm, has an easy flow and charm about it. Sampling the Waka Queen Salawu Abeni’s voice from an interview, Mojeed is singing about his home state, as a bonafide Omo Ogun, the same state that has given us legends and dynasties like the Kutis. As usual, Tec drops pristine flows that coincide occasionally with the gan-gan drumming. He also gives props to Mojeed and Poe as the only rappers he listens to.
Koshilo, the album’s front-burner single, has a gorgeous flow about it. Destined to crossover, the song’s hook is carefree while referencing enough drugs to mute a legion.
What stays with a listener after the album’s 19 minutes pass is that joie de vivre, the confluence of different sounds and influences, top-notch rap skill sets and a yearning to best one’s previous effort on the part of the artist.
Mojeed is clearly destined for bigger places. His time has come.
Lulu Fadoju or Lulu Raps, a little known rapper also dropped his EP An Eye for a Naira sometime in July. An underground rapper with a distinctly deep voice, this wordsmith is working his way to the top with his 7 tracker lasting about 21 minutes.
An Eye for a Naira is a hustler’s tract, full of anecdotes, yearnings and ambition. It is dreamy and instructional. In the intro How I see It he drops several couplets of gems, he admonishes, “Have fast cars when you love the chase, eat meals with exotic names”.
No doubt, this cat can rap. He has trained his ears and vocal cords to drop bars that could chill a cipher. And his charge is best stated in Never Walk Alone, “take the struggle we have to make the perfect sound.”
This EP might as well be dedicated to Fela. From the Anikulapo song down to his line, “my birth coincides with his death”. Even Fela’s statement on the hugely popular Music is a Weapon documentary finds its way into the material.
On Davido Money, modern registers and metaphors of the good life are listed in an inventory that revolves around the music industry. This album is big on ambition but lean on hooks. Melodious choruses are time-tested techniques through which rappers will their way into charts and our hearts. But what Lulu’s EP lacks in chorus, it finds in depth and focus.
This project, An Eye for a Naira, deserves its moment in the sun. But like everything indie and alternative, it is in need of a miracle.