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REVIEW: SAO & THE MUSE II

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Lagos has always been a city filled with an incredible art scene, and in recent years there has been an explosion of events celebrating said creativity. On Friday evening, with its second incarnation, Sao & The Muse set out to do just that. Stocked with work from artists or rather ‘muses – Medina Dugger, Mr. Wentz, John Madu, Rotimi Williams, Niyi Okeowo, Daniel Obasi, Popartii, Ojuolapea, Frederick Archibong – expertly curated by Nicole Asinugo – Sao Café was beautifully transformed into an exhibition hall.

Each artist’s work brought something unique to the exhibition. The installations by Niyi Okeowo (with lighting from 512 Activity) and Painterabe were mightily impressive and had guests flocking to them, camera in hand, with their new Instagram pictures in sight. John Madu’s ‘Adam’s Apple’ offered an interesting interpretation of the story of the Garden of Eden. Medina Dugger’s portrait was stunning and made even more so as they people on hand bringing her piece to life. In love with Medina Dugger’s work, event curator, Nicole Asinugo’s hair style was inspired by it. Ojuolapea photographs beautifully captured Lagos and its inhabitants. There was also a crafts market on hand, stocked with beautiful bags, clothes, and accessories.

Event curator, Nicole Asinugo’s hair style was inspired by her {Medina Dugger} work.

With kegs of palm-wine dropping onto the stage, SDC performance managed to create tipsy atmosphere.

Show Dem Camp was on hand for a performance of songs from their EP – Palmwine Music. Technical difficulties threatened to disrupt their performance, but quick thinking and the support of the audience rendered the threat void. The chilled vibe of Sao & The Muse II offered an ideal backdrop for the ‘palm-wine’ groove of their music. With kegs of palm-wine dropping onto the stage, SDC performance managed to create tipsy atmosphere. Performing Independent Ladies, Tec serenaded a lady in the audience with his lyrics, much to her amusement. Each supporting act added something brilliant to the set – Funbi’s vocals left the girls swooning, Boj’s voice left the audience in a trance, Tomi Thomas’s singing left the audience moving, Poe’s flow upped the intensity, and the fan who knew the whole of Odunsi’s left everyone impressed – all combining to make a wonderful performance. Throwback single Feel Alright was perhaps the pick of the songs performed, as it left the audience hands in the air, fist clenched, slowly moving their waists to the music.

Tec serenaded a lady in the audience with his lyrics, much to her amusement.

Throwback single Feel Alright was perhaps the pick of the songs performed, as it left the audience hands in the air, fist clenched, slowly moving their waists to the music.

 

Sarah Okeke has something special in her hands with Sao Café and the event Sao & The Muse. Sao & The Muse II manages to improve on the mightily impressive first edition, and if I was a betting man, my money will most definitely be on Sao & The Muse III to push the envelope even further.

 

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Butterfly by D-Truce (Feat. 3rty) D-Truce

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After teasing us with a 4-track playlist on his birthday titled “23 To Life” and amazing live performances at all four stops of his “Young Kulture” joint tour, X3M Music act, D-Truce serves us his first official single of the year. The song is titled “Butterfly” and tells the story of a Lagos Playboy turned Side-Piece, who wants no strings attached but still adores his woman.

With production from 3rty (who also features on the track) reminiscent of the beach side palm wine vibes and the right horns and guitars (by David Aloba) to go with it, as well as additional vocals by Adewale Oladimeji and Taiwo “Tyler” Oladimeji, this jam is definitely one to add to your “Chill” playlist. The track was mixed and mastered by Margai.

Enjoy.

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Damilare Sonoiki is breaking grounds.

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Damilare Sonoiki is a 24 year old Nigerian immigrant, from Houston, Texas. He joined the Harvard Lampoon in 2009 and garnered fame from writing for ABC’s hit sitcom Blackish.

Courtesy of damilare sonoiki

After the success of Blackish, Sonoiki has gone a step further and has created his own comedy series “AFRICAN BOOTY SCRATCHER” (originally titled African Time) based on a Nigerian-immigrant family, Tunde, Ann and their struggling son, Ayomide.

The series is perceived to be centered on their struggle to maintain their traditional values and Nigerian identity in the midst of the daunting American culture; it also depicts the universal immigrant problems: getting your traditional names misspelled and brutally mispronounced by friends and teachers, explaining to your classmates why a B+ is an unacceptable result and the awkwardness of your neighbours eating your family’s traditional food and commenting on it.

The series stars internet comedian Dulo Harris, who plays Ayo’s father, Dami Dare who plays Ayomide and his real life mother Niki Guluchi, who also plays his mother in the sitcom.

In it’s first week online, it was viewed more than 3 million times on Facebook and it’s trailer got 300k plays on YouTube. Although, it is currently not being aired on any network as at the time this piece was written, work is being put to make the show a reality. Sonoiki and his team have a Kickstarter to promote it.

AFRICAN BOOTY SCRATCHER is Fresh, Hysterical, Hilarious and gives a fair accurate depiction of the universal immigrant story. I’ll leave you to make up your own words after watching the teaser video Here.

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Adara Review – “One In A Million”

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Unless you live under a rock, there should be no way you haven’t at least heard some mention of Adara by now. And the hype is accurate for all the right reasons.
However, for those who do not know, Adara is a soulful song [produced] by DJ Femo and featuring Afro-Fusion artist, Fasina and producer/artist/engineer extraordinaire GMK (also, a host of backing vocals provided by DJ Yin and saxophone by Saxofix).
DJ Femo is a renowned Nigerian DJ (she’s the former resident DJ at 355 Lounge, VI, and has also played at notable venues around Lagos like 57, Escape, Grill at the Pent and Vapors.)
“Adara” is her first foray into production and at first I didn’t believe it. The beat of the song is so masterfully crafted, so effortlessly soulful, so immaculately vibey. Every element of the beat is expertly curated and arranged to create a chill sonic atmosphere.
And then on top of this amazing beat, each of the artistes adds their own unique flavour to the track. The song kicks off with Fasina’s voice settling right into the instrumentals, smooth as melted butter on bread. The melodies of both his verse and the hook are catchy and simple, inviting you to sing along.
DJ Yin’s vocals sneak up on you in the hook and add this light, airy, almost ethereal element to it. Then GMK the Monster Boy cements his calibre as an artiste with his own smooth verse, flexing his versatility. The song wraps up and fades out with a short but beautiful sax section that makes me want to restart the song and take it in again.
To me, this song is virtually flawless. From the vibes to the musicality, the technical aspect and production values, every facet of the product is on point.
I am so excited to hear what more these artistes have in store for us. Especially looking forward to Femo’s upcoming outings as a producer. What a start!

 

(Bonus: Here’s Fasina with a little live performance of Adara)

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The Only Ones by Lázougi – A Review

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A while back, I gave my opinions on the far out, funkedelic sounds of Lázougi’s single, Funk The Lazer. I feel like the single served as a sort of sneak peek into the vibe that would be present in the full project, titled The Only Ones. And so with my feet up and a glass of wine, I sat back and listened deeply to the project.

 

Overview

I thought a lot of things while listening to The Only Ones. It is chock-full of rich luscious sounds and synths, interesting musicality and ideas, and creative composition and arrangements. Looking at the full scope of the project, the elements that strike me as the strongest are the funk, soul and jazz elements; Lázougi has an evident flair with the keys and drums that shines throughout the project. The psychedelic and laser elements of the project are a mixed bag for me; ranging from effective addition of layers to seemingly clashing with the rest of the instrumentation.

I also feel like the project could benefit from being a few songs shorter as some of the track start to run into each other around the middle. And while some tracks do tend to get a bit repetitive, the 23-track project has enough variation to keep it fresh along the way (and some of the songs are really short too)

Anyway, enough of the overview. How do the individual tracks fare? Seeing as there are so many of them, I won’t speak on them all individually. I will, however, group them according to how I rated them and speak about the tracks that embody the classification.

 

Ratings

  • Firstly, we have the songs I gave a 3/5 on my personal scale; songs I feel had great ideas in them but then they seemed to clash with one another or not flow as well together as I would have hoped. The previously reviewed Funk The Laser, Misunderstood, and Coffee and Cream had me conflicted with sections I really liked leading into sections I felt were a bit muddled and had too much going on. Some chords and sounds didn’t seem to agree with one another in parts. Chris Gangstar, My Lady, Sad Juice and Going South had my interest at first and I was excited to see how they would develop but they didn’t develop much, leaving the same patterns to repeat over and over amidst slight changes.
  • Next, there are the 4/5 songs; the ones I enjoyed but I felt were held back by one or two elements. For A Bad Case of Hiccups, Dramatic Endings, Sussie and Junkyard, I was absolutely transfixed by the jazz and soul lounge atmosphere Lázougi created with his keys and drums. Each song had a catchy bounce. However, each song had one element, either a synths or a section, that drew me out of the reverie. Unhappy Days, Grand Escape, Bass Boss and The Nature’s Call and Alarming High each stood out sonically from many of the other songs. They show a different angle to Lázougi’s approach and switch up the sound in ways I was captivated by.
  • Finally, we get to the 5/5 songs; the ones that had me delightfully engrossed, bobbing my head and hitting replay when they ended. Inn Fire, Blue, Silent Treatment, Moments and Remember are what I think Lázougi sounds like at his best. The keys and drums bring the soul and funk right to the fore, the bass dancing around under the instruments. The synths and lasers creeping into the main melody right when they are needed, adding a whole new dynamic to the sound. Also listen out to the background vocals that certainly add a hint of “trippy” to the songs.

 

Conclusion

All in all, I would say The Only Ones is a very solid first project for a new artiste treading relatively uncharted waters when it comes to genre and style. My favorite track is Inn Fire and I definitely want to hear much more like it. I would also like to see what Lázougi could do if he tried to lean more into the jazz and funk areas of his sound and really pushed them. I know that not many people would be able to find themselves sitting down to listen to the whole thing, but I do recommend giving it a listen. Let it play in the background and listen to the soul in the keys and the bounce of the drums. If anything, I implore you to listen to the tracks in the 5/5 group at the very least.

Well done Lázougi!

 

Go ahead and listen to the project below and let me know how your thoughts, opinions and favourites compare to mine :).

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Funk The Laser – A Review

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Funk The Laser is the 2nd track of The Only Ones project by Lázougi. It is being touted as Funky, Laser Themed, Electronic Dance Music.

I sat down and listened to it on repeat for a while. Being of such a different style and sound, I had to make sure to listen to it with an open mind and objective ears.

After many replays, I hesitate to call it Electronic Dance Music (EDM). I would personally classify it more as Laser-Inspired, Abstract, Psychedelic Electronic Funk.

So how does the song itself sound? Different. Interesting.

The first thing I noticed was the song has no discernible intro. This is not a bad thing, I was just taken aback by how suddenly and brashly the song begins. This gives way to intrigue; there is almost something hypnotic about the hum of a low bass, the jazzy drum patterns, the climbing bass and the laser synth loop.

This 8-bar section alternates with another that I personally don’t like as much. The chords and the bass seem to clash with the lead synths and it takes away from it for me. I would have loved to hear the lead chords on their own for a bit. By this point, I must admit a bit of ear fatigue concerning the synth pattern that loops in the left ear.

And then we get piano chords in the fore and I absolutely love them. There’s something about them that almost gives the section a completely different feel; straddling the line between funky electronic music and electronic sounding funk music. Once again, I would personally have loved to hear those pianos become a focus of the song for a little bit, allowing the song a variation that could have taken it somewhere new before circling back to the lasers.

All in all, it is an interesting song that, I believe, would appeal to niche tastes. Every time it faded to silence (it’s not a very long song), I started it up again. I hear a lot of interesting ideas and while it didn’t always nail it for me, I do want to hear more of Lázougi’s sound.  I am curious to find out what more he has in store and what his style could evolve into.

Go ahead and listen for yourself and let me know what you think below?

Download 

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OmarSurLeSonQuiTue (Vol.1) – A Review

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Volume 1 of #OmarSurLeSonQuiTue (french for ‘Omar on the sound that kills’, if you needed that) is a 6-track instrumental EP by Canada-based Nigerian producer, Omar. I stumbled upon it while scrolling through my Soundcloud and found myself beaming because I love it when producers step up and present their instrumental work as independent art. This has been happening for some time in the more electronic and dance genres but you hardly find such in the Nigerian music scene.

When my smile evened out, I sat down with my headphones and dove in. Here’s what I thought about Omar’s lethal sounds.

  • Lust Or Love kicks the project off with a literal bang. The song is full and sonically rich. The brass, tempo and sultriness of it all speak to the R ‘n’ B nature you would expect from a song with such a title. Yet, it hits hard and has the vocal chops and filtered synths you would find in an electronic trap song. I think the usually disparate genres fuse perfectly to create something that kept my head bobbing from beginning to end.
  • Abstract Trap is up next and is quite aptly named. Crisp snares, rolling hats and punchy 808’s had me hitting a mean nae-nae in my room. I expected a bit more abstraction and variation in the synth patterns as the song progressed but it doesn’t take away from the track in the end. Trap music is characteristically quite simple,  so the instruments do what is required of them.
  • The first thing that hit me about Broken was those chords. Those chords! They had the track dripping with smooth chill vibes. The bass and strings added to that with very beautiful and jazzy flair. It slows down the frantic pace of the earlier songs and asks you to sit back and relax. In fact, at certain less frenetic moments in the song, it sounds like it would be very comfortable in a bedroom playlist (those who know, know).
  • Sound Of Music (16-17) starts with a healthy dose of nostalgia, taking me back to one of my favourite musicals of all time. Then the guitars slide in to let you know you’re in for an interesting take on a classic. The track then assaults you with pounding 808’s as the trap elements of the track come to the fore. This is one I replayed many times. The transitions came a bit abruptly for me but I still love how the song took a complete 180.
  • Polaroid, like Broken, begins with lovely sweeping chords that ask you to chill. It is one of the simpler songs on the project and there is a lot of beauty in its simplicity. My only (admittedly small) gripe with the song comes in the form of a certain hi-hat that I think stands out a bit too much over the rest of the relaxed instrumentation. It doesn’t interfere with the enjoyment much. However, I did feel a little relief when it fades near the end. I only wish the part without it had gone on longer.
  • My goodness. AfroTech! I didn’t want it to stop. The groove is ridiculous. If you’ve seen me listen to music you’ll understand what it means when I say some parts made me scrunch up my face, as if in disgust. Far from disgust though, this track goes so hard. Omar always nails that afrobeat vibe so well and I shoki’d quite a bit. The ‘tech’ comes from the synths and vocoded vocal chops that give the whole thing a second layer of rhythm. And then it gets to that switch up with the brass that takes you by surprise. Definitely my favourite on the tape and what a way to end it.

All in all, I think this is a wonderful instrumental project. It serves up diverse genres and flavours with six songs that stand well on their own. My top three songs are AfroTech, Broken and Lust Or Love.

I look forward to a volume 2 and hearing more work from OmarSurLeSonQuiTue.

Listen to the project below and let me know what you thought of it?

 

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That’s My DJ: DJ Tiz

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The ‘Birth of Tizzy,’ EP was released last year in July. This body of work proved how promising and talented DJ Tiz is. Tiz held his own despite really good features from DJ Oreo, Bluegrass and DJ Shoray. The young DJ proved his versatility- he had a trap mix on ‘Traphives,’ and he gave us dancehall vibes with ‘Life of Pumpum.’ This mix will definitely have you dancing even if you aren’t a religious dancehall or bashment listener. To get in your feelings listen to DJ Tiz’s ‘Love Story,’ mix, which is a really dope compilation of love songs.

‘WhenTheMixHitsYou 2.0,’ featuring DJ Bluegrass is so self-explanatory. DJ Tiz delivered with throw-back Nigerian jams such as Jonzing world by D’prince, Wizkid and Jesse Jagz, Davido’s Carolina, under g by Sauce Kid, Oleku by Ice Price ft Brymo, the list goes on really. It was just hit after throw-back hit and I definitely suggest this mix if you like Nigerian music.

 

The overdose (Young Thug x Future) mix is a really great compilation of Young Thug and Future jams. It has some really dope transitions. For instance, the song change from ‘For my people,’ by Young Thug to ‘March Madness,’ by Future was really smooth. Look out for that and other cool transitions when listening to the mix.

There were some great songs on the ‘illusion,’ mix featuring DJ Shoray. contrary to the other mixes, there was no particular sound on ‘illusion.’ There were smooth vibes like repeté by Black Magic and Like to party by Burna. On the other hand, the mix had livelier records, such as fans mi by Davido and the Shaba remix.

Tiz is dropping a new EP titled ‘APEX.’ He teamed up with new wave artists, such as Odunsi, Famous Bobson, Moyo Fuga, Tay Iwar and Psycho- expect great features from these guys. This EP is all about celebrating and showcasing the unique and authentic sounds of young Nigerian artists. Be sure to expect a wide range of music- everything from trap, hip-hop, Afro-fusion to Nigerian pop music, will be included in the mixes. Make sure you keep an eye out for APEX and support this young Nigerian DJ doing his thing.

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Introducing ‘Nukubi’

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I have always enjoyed finding artistes who stray from the norm and present music in genres that differ from those we have come to expect. Nukubi is one such artiste.

Based in Lagos, he has always been interested in music, and art in general. This interest in diverse arts (film, literature, visual arts, etc.) combines with his life experiences to inspire his work. He says his style is heavily inspired by the New Wave aesthetic but, naturally, Nigerian and African musicality also act as inspiration. And although he has been making music for about 4 years now, he has finally reached a point where he is producing work to be shared. Being a relative newcomer, his first two offerings have definitely caught my attention.

His first track (titled ‘Bronze’) is very reminiscent of that New Wave 80’s Alternative Pop with its hypnotic instrumentation, off-kilter drums and Nukubi’s smooth delivery. Combined with the video (directed by Jimi Agboola), the song comes off as almost eerie as he voices what sounds like some sort of internal conversation.

His most recent track ‘Local Champion’ shows off another side of the New Wave stylings with a slower tempo, minimal instrumentation and simple drums that allow Nukubi’s vocals to take the spotlight. The relaxed, laid back vocals creep around the sonic atmosphere the song seems to bask in.

 

Altogether, Nukubi has become an artiste I am excited to hear more from. His voice perfectly fits his interesting choice of genre and the technical execution of the music is on point.

Here’s hoping there is much more ‘Noirwave’ (as he calls it) music to come from Nukubi in the near future.

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Bands Rock

Well, I met a band. I’m so ducking excited.
Every day I find something more amazing about African “new age” minds doing unorthodox/alternative shit. I found Paradise Motel on twitter via the Native Mag platform and I became an instant fan! I love everything about them. I had to speak to them, I had to find out their voice and that I did.
Read please, enjoy.

AL: Why are you in Spain? What’s the story behind that?
You’re an English-speaking Nigerian in Spain leading a band, what’s the story bro!

Tony: I decided to move to Spain sometime late 2015 after spending about a decade in Dubai, I needed a new experience and a new atmosphere. We formed the group in Bilbao which is in the Basque Country and my being here is even more of a contrast, but I love it

AL: How’s the culture mix giving birth to your own distinct sound? What is your sound?

Tony: I think it has made me think more. Spain is really relaxing, and I’ve had the time and space to soak into myself and find my honesty. I think what you hear is me trying to reach the same level of expression we hear with gospel music which is humans singing to their creator while I speak about My life and my guilt, I want it to be that profound

AL: That’s intense, how did your story with Paradise Motel start, how did they band come together?
Why the name, what’s the visions and how do you mix your Nigerian essence with your band mates being the African in the band?

Tony: So Paradise Motel is an audiovisual band/group. The name came from the oxymoronic lifestyle in Dubai, In the downtown area where the rich/Europeans live, where the world’s tallest building is, world’s biggest mall is, where the best hotels are etc paradise for some people and then you can drive 20minutes uptown to the place where we the lowlifes live and you see It’s grimy its a motel, like prostitutes out on the street at 7 pm motel you know, it’s an oxymoron. I found Ruben (who records all the instrumentals live) through a school friend, he’s the best guy ever and then I found Sendoa through Ruben. and now it’s a team.
The vision is to create a new universe, with music and the videos, create a new alternate reality with characters and stories. Our Ep ‘Egosex’ will be the first dive into the concept.
I think being Nigerian is already a vibe, it’s already an essence, I don’t think about it, It just there blossoming.

AL: How do you feel about the term “new age Africa” which represents a new alternative side to young Africa?

Tony: I don’t know about the ‘new age’ thing, I think Africans have always been cool, even before Americanisation or before afrobeats. Yes there’s mainstream Africa (which takes from us more than its gives to us, and will end up killing us) and there’s a self-conscious, self-aware, Intelligent Africa with a different thought process, An africa driven by creativity and life and not by money – that can really help change how our next generation is going to turn out. but nonetheless we are the same age.

AL: Your music can’t be boxed, it’s a mix of so much already.
Do you think that’s the new dimension of music, a sound that’s global for everyone to sorta relate to?

Tony: That sounds amazing if we can achieve it – but I don’t think my music is for ‘everybody’ and I hate when music is made for everybody. It’s fucking horrible.

AL: What music do you listen to?

Tony: Right now my playlist is all African 60/70’s music
Bonga’s 1972 Angola album is on repeat, Amanaz – Africa album also, Joni Haastrup, Lijadu sisters, Orlando Julius. Top stuff

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