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Album Review: Chike’s Boo of the Booless


Reviewed by Loni Rae


Sunday, April 26, 2020.


At a period ordained by the general public for flattering gifts and overrated emotions but actually set aside for glorified pretence and ironies, Chike, the runner-up of The Voice Nigeria Season 1, fittingly  decided to drop his debut work to an already expectant audience. The title says it all, I guess, if music was meant to keep a man’s company, this one forsakes you at times either in incomplete lyrics or corny melodic tunes. 

The album begins with a mellow tune, Beautiful People, easily the best record on the album. The artist putting the proverbial best foot forward with a clear tune coupled with simple lyrics to unveil a spectrum of various shades of love, a decent way of kicking off on a debut. The second track, Nakupenda, continues in similar fashion, except it reflects South African/East African influences on the hilly intonations and echoing inflections in the song as well as the Swahilian title. From the third track, the general pattern nosedives into overbeaten clichés and near pointless repetition that make unremarkable fixtures out of melodies. Forever would have featured better as a concise solo, a veteran rapper’s subpar verse does justice to no one, neither does it aid posterity in any way. Is he really Number 1 African Rapper? Amen and Roju after that represent to some the zenith of the album, the former being a classy tune catchy enough if you are frequently in the worship mode with your partner and will definitely make the  track list of many weddings across the country, Roju on the other hand is a beautiful appropriation of highlife wrapped up in soothing and entreating Igbo lyrics, easily a favourite however both songs remain shadowy renditions of their true potential. Finder’s keeper is properly positioned, giving the album a lift out of itself, a really danceable track that can make even one-year olds discover the compatibility of musical tunes with their little feet with but not much substance beyond that. The ante is upped in Insecure, but shabby production and boxed in lyrics keeps it cliché.

At Out of Love, the album has overrun its course and it is clear that the usual solemn monotony is not going to deliver climax or save the day, so the album begins to taper out very early even with five songs to go. I regard the last four songs as fillers that should have never made the final cut, Soldier was terribly mediocre to say the least, but the typical Nigerian artiste is only as conscious as the  spare three minutes he/she has to bash the country or try to redeem it. Watching over me is the same song with only  a different title that every of  Chike’s contemporaries has on their albums, praising and crediting an Almighty being that is probably positively indifferent about their art to begin with. 

The shortcomings of this album are reminiscent of a vibrant R n B scene in Nigeria, that remains slow in coming or just stark elusive. The handicaps that keep that particular musical arena scanty in Nigeria  are the same reasons that keep Chike’s debut some distance away from being fantastic ; muddleheaded song writing, lack of production coherence, and shortage of critical substance. Because this is his first work, it is not surprising the range of diverse forays and sub genres he experimented with to forge a singular sound that he will like to be defined by, however Rhythm and Blues stands out as a genre with which he has the most affinity for, and he has his shining moments when he delves into Highlife filtered Afro-pop or as I like to call it, Kom Kom music but he is clearly not an alternative to Flavour and the rest of the gang. I like that unlike most of his contemporaries he is not frolicking with the Afrobeats bandwagon, I mean if there is one thing the Nigerian music industry can take a break from right now, it is young artists masquerading themselves as artistic descendants (either direct or indirect) of Fela.  

Nonetheless, the texture of Chike’s debut can be likened to wool; combining the solemnity of RnB with exuberant fullness of modern Highlife, on some days it would be the right album to listen to, on others you would need to be distracted from it. As long as you remember that days aren’t necessarily good or bad, our ears just need to be cleaned out more often.


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Loni Rae is an artist. He lives in Rome.


Loni Rae Reviews Chike's Debut Album

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