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FIVE OF MY FAVORITE NIGERIAN BOOKS

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Books. We’ve all read books, some of us still read novels and some of us don’t even remember the last book we read (I am guilty of this). For most of us, reading is an escape from reality’s boring embrace, it is an adventure we take without moving from our chairs or beds. reading feels better when we are getting our time’s worth in the books we read. we are attracted to the subjects and the vast characters in each book. whether we relate to the characters or not we almost certainly get engulfed in their stories and lives.
It’s literature month at LL, and in honor of the theme, I’m going to make a list of my favorite Nigerian novels and my favorite/stand-out character in each book.

Simbi goes to school.
I’ll start with a book we should all be familiar with, You’d laugh, but, If you did your primary education in Nigeria, you would know Simbi’s story had a vital role to play in our development as lovers of the literary culture. This book’s influence was the foundation for most of our interest in reading books.
Simbi is a girl, Simbi did go to school and she always went early. She followed all the rules, never did any wrong. Simbi passed WAEC, JAMB, NECO and every other obstacle that was placed to not make her gain admission into a university, she graduated with a first class in petroleum engineering and is currently working as a receptionist at a law firm.

Simbi

Ali.
Ali is Simbi’s brother, he loved school too, and he was a talented grass cutter. He had the agile wrist of a lawn tennis professional.
Ali

Akata witch by Nnendi Okorafor
Nnendi Okorafor is an amazing writer, and Akata witch is her best work to me so far. It is a magical story of Sunny, A nigerian-albino, who was born in America, but lives in Nigeria. She was never allowed to go outside into the sun and play; which saddened her most of the time, because, she was a very good athlete and loved playing football. She discovered that she was a witch and struggles to cope with that revelation. She eventually joins a band of other witches to battle a magical criminal.
It is a Great book, with a great plot and great characters.
I do recommend.

Sunny


Purple hibiscus by Chimamanda Adichie

I read purple hibiscus when I was arriving at my teenage years and it made me appreciate my parents and how they punished me even more. Adichie has written a series of hits back-to-back and to me this book is her best yet. Purple hibiscus is about Kambili, a fifteen year old girl, who comes from a rich and dysfunctional family. She struggles with school, making friends, religion, and her father, Eugene, most of all. I loved everything about the book, from the character development to it’s style. Chimamanda really did a number here.

Eugene

Eugene is not my favorite character. I just wanted to show you guys, how I imagined his appearance while reading the book.

The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta.
This heartfelt book is about Nnu-ego and her husband Nnaife and Nnu-ego’s plight with child bearing. The novel centers around the necessity for a woman to be fertile, and above all to give birth to sons. The down pouring of neglect that comes with the lack of children and the relief that comes with having children; especially male children.
It was a great book, and even though it was published in 1979, it is still very much relevant today in 2017.

Nnu-ego

The Concubine by Elechi Amadi

I finally got to read this book last year, and I found myself asking why I took so long. This is a tragic tale set in eastern-Nigeria. It is about a beautiful woman, Ihuoma, who only brought death and suffering to every man who became her lover. It is an amazing story, dramatic and tragic. The writing, the plot and the characters make it hard to believe it was a debut novel by Elechi Amadi.

Ihuoma

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War EP – A Review

War Cover Art

We all know Nonso Amadi and Odunsi caused a shockwave when they dropped this surprise bomb on us a while back. I kinda postponed listening to it for a few weeks after it dropped. I had been having a busy time and I wasn’t going to just have this project in my ears while I was doing something else. I knew I needed to have a free day to lie down, put my headphones on and swim in the wonderful sounds I knew the project would provide.

I’m usually careful not to hype things up in my mind. But considering the calibre of these artists, I didn’t let caution stop me. And these dudes did not disappoint.

The project kicks off with Ocean. Those chords immediately prepare you for the R&B vibe that is cemented when the drums jump in. Halfway into the first verse, I had already added the song to my ‘bedroom’ playlist. From the instrumentation to the poetic lyrics and the sweet melodies of both artistes, Ocean is soaked in sensual vibes.

Next up is Don’t which is my personal favourite. I can’t put my finger on why. Everything about this track has me in awe. I have to take my hat off to Nonso for the beat because wow. It is the perfect vessel for the emotion that the song exudes. And when those 808s come in, it’s like when someone shows you something you never knew you needed until they did. The vocal performances almost bring tears to my eyes, especially with the harmonies near the end of the song. To me, this song is practically perfect.

Don’t bleeds seamlessly into Stay which retains the R&B sensibility but has a harder edge with the instrumentality and the delivery of the verses. It’s a relatively short and is almost like a sort of interlude. Just as smoothly as it transitioned in from Don’t, it flows out into War. 

War is so beautiful. So many other words come to mind but ‘beautiful’ sums it up. Heartfelt, honest, smooth, gentle. It’s the kind of sound that Nonso is no stranger to. I absolutely loved hearing Odunsi come into this style and just own it so effortlessly. The switch up near the end (with the percussions) took me absolutely by surprise and just complete the song for me.

The whole project is a testament to my favourite thing about collaborations; two distinct talents merging to produce something that blends their individual strengths into a wholly original and engaging product. I wish the project was longer because I am curious as to what else they could have made together.

Just like Oliver Twist said, please sirs, I want some more.

https://soundcloud.com/warpart1/sets/war-ep-odunsi-the-engine-and-nonso-amadi

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19 & Over: Reviewing The Cruise

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Yinka Bernie recently dropped his much-anticipated EP, 19 & Over. I got the chance to listen to it while cruising along Third Mainland Bridge. With the sun setting over the Lagos Lagoon, the mood couldn’t have been set any better. Upon completion, I realized just how accurate the hashtag #MaximumCruise is.

The project is inundated with laid back vibes. Everything from the instrumentation and production to the baritone delivery.

Yinka’s growth as a musician is evident right from the (not) intro. His sound is clearly identifiable. His production work is top-notch and he rides the beat with honest, relatable lyrics. And I think that honesty is one of the strongest aspects of the project. There is no illusion of grandeur; Yinka seems to be speaking his mind. The project sounds motivated by personal experience and introspective thought.

He does a tremendous job all over the project and could easily have graced the EP by himself. However, collaborations are always beautiful. All the talent drafted in do an amazing job. The mellow voice of Joyce Olong elevates the smooth jazzy vibes of Subconscious Flashes. interlude. Mav and Higo outdo themselves with the production on Don’t Rush. And the star-studded Palmwine Chills sees Musmah, Lady Donli and BrisB in top form.

I think 19 & Over is an exemplary body of work. The sound is top quality; the vibes are consistent; the writing is relatable and thoughtful. Yinka Bernie is one to watch, and definitely one to listen to.

 

Go ahead and enjoy the project for yourself below.

 

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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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