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Rookie’s ‘BLUE’

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Twenty-one and heartily paving a way for his special sound in a society where Afro-Pop and the likes are all that are accepted, final year English major student of Babcock University, Rookie (short for Oghenerukewve Agofure) is determined to diversify the Nigerian music industry by introducing us to his unique blend of music. With Singles like ‘Crazy’, ‘Forever’ and ‘Way you Dance’, Rookie has proved that he is not here to play as his love for music is not all fun & games. He portrayed this in his upcoming E.P, which he has been working on for a while now. His voice and lyrics are worthwhile features of his music and every song on his E.P is an unforgettable journey.

The euphonic nature of his sound promised a destination, his lyrics projected a fettle, his melody indicated a journey’s end. The journey is his mellifluous sound. The journey is ‘Blue’, an extraterrestrial trip to the Moon, a place of no return and a journey’s end with an assurance of euphoria.

His break out E.P, Rookie’s Blue has been titled a host of names but none were as elucidating as Blue. A vibrant colour that when light hits, breaks into diverse colours ensuring it leaves an impact on everyone it hits, this is exactly what this body of art does by being effervescent and relatable. I wondered if his indecision was due to his inability to encapsulate his sound but after listening to it, I realize he had to capture everyone in this project. This was coupled with his goal of making music for ‘Constipated Whales’- a synonym, I assume, for the Flower Child. Blue definitely is a more encompassing name.

Blue explores a variety of life situations and captures every frame of mind. On its own, it is a genre of music that is swavey in nature. New Jazz, New Age, Soul, Blues, Reggae, a bit of Pause & Pace Rap, this body of art is a combination of mind-blowing, thought-provoking and life-affirming lyrics caressed by an infusion of dulcet, bassy, savvy beats. Rookie’s voice sounds like tenor punctuated with hints of baritone; lithe, smooth and mesmeric. All these blend into a certain sound that puts you in a state of mind, like you are trapped in a cocoon, rolling around in a body of water calmly rushing over rocks. That is the journey.

Every song, from ‘legacy’ down to the last credit feature, is an ode to his come up; a signature of Rookie’s special blend of music. The E.P deftly explores the life of one who is wanderlust. It exhibits Rookie’s amazing ability to captivate his listeners with lyrics that are totally relatable and a tone-timbre voice serenading the listener, provoking emotions and actions.

Songs like ‘Forever’, ‘Komilla/Sonia’s Idyll’, ‘Melancholy Ville’, take you on a plane journey with his lithy serenading voice. While ‘Way you Dance’ and ‘All you Got’ have been infused with popping dance-hall, dub-step, body-controlling beats projecting your mind to a trippy state that makes you want to dance to the rhythm and align your body with its wavelengths. ‘Memory Lane’ and ‘Better Days’ recall your deepest, darkest thoughts and even inspire you. There is a song for everyone.

As far as comparisons go, if Tory Lanez, Olly Alexander, Elijah Blake and Drake had a child, it would be Rookie, but it goes without saying he’s one of a kind. In fact, he is the only one of his kind.

Rookie’s ‘Blue’ is an assurance of a diverse world of music for the African Flower Child in every one of us. An aesthetic beauty, Blue is that journey you take but never return from because you get lost, not to lose yourself, but to find yourself. I recommend that you cop it when it is released this December, and I promise you would not be disappointed.

Here’s ‘Way you dance’, a single off the upcoming project.

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How Chance the Rapper changed my life

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Three and half years ago, I vividly remember inspecting the contents of what would become one of my go-to underground and mainstream online music publications, scouring page after page looking for songs that stimulated the musicophile within me.

It must have been the soulful entrance or the quirky peculiarity of the energy that exonerated from one of the twenty or so tabs open on my laptop that day that had me frantically searching for the source. Chancellor Bennet a.k.a Chance the Rapper, the 23-year-old Chicago native snatched whatever emotion I was feeling leading up to 0:00 of ‘Good Ass Intro’ and replaced it with the feeling of being unshackled from the dominating presence of King Louie, Chief Keef, and the Drill scene. It was refreshing, to say the least.

The soulfulness of ‘Good Ass Intro’ off my favourite Chance mixtape ‘Acid Rap‘, reminded me of long trips in the car watching my Dad flip through a mountain of CDs transcribed with a tracklist handwritten in the same black ink, consisting of music from the likes of Kool & the Gang, Earth, Wind & Fire and Funkadelic, he would eventually pick one titled ‘Old School Funk Mix XI’. So it came as no surprise to me when I read an interview with Chance in which he says to be heavily influenced by Acid Jazz, a genre that combines soul, jazz, funk and disco.

My excitement peaked, I fell in love with his unforced natural sound and charismatic energy, I had not quite heard a delivery so unique in a while. Easily I can make a comparison between my favourite Eminem tape, ‘The Marshall Mather LP’ in terms of how unique both artists are in their delivery. Just like Em, Chance has an air of spontaneity about him, his music felt foreign and so dramatic it directly influenced my emotions every time I listened to him. His open-hearted wordplay and narrative style, similar to that of Kanye’s, is influenced by what Complex Magazine called ‘growing intellectual restlessness’.

Having been brought up by parents that worked in the government and interning with several political campaigns, ‘activist’ is another label placed over the rapper’s head. From anti-violence campaigns to ‘Open Mike’ festivals for young Chicagoans, Chance has no problem talking about the problems he sees in his hometown. On “Paranoia” he addresses the murder rate in Chicago, calling for peace and compassion: We know you’re scared/ You should ask us if we’re scared too.

It has been three weeks since the release of his latest mixtape ‘Colouring Book’ exclusively on Apple Music until last week. Now, even without an Apple Music subscription you have no reason whatsoever not to have your own copy downloaded on one, if not all, your electronic devices.

I was stunned, to say the least. This tape has no boundaries! Chance the Rapper successfully blew my mind by challenging the contemporary hip-hop culture which sometimes makes a mockery of faith, embraces violence and can be absolutely misogynistic. Like many, I find myself wrestling with understanding God and my personal faith, I have heard Christians raise the topic of whether or not it is okay to listen to mainstream rap or hip-hop because of the vulgarity and honestly I may not be the best person to answer that question. However, what I do know is that we can learn a lot about how a rapper views the power of faith in his/her religion and what challenges they face from their lyrics. In the song ‘Jesus Walks’ off the album ‘The College Dropout’, Kanye West says,

“They say you can rap about anything except for Jesus
That means guns, sex, lies, videotape
But if I talk about God my record won’t get played, huh?
Well if this take away from my spins
Which’ll probably take away from my ends
Then I hope this take away from my sins”

He talks about how by mentioning Jesus, his song may not be played on radios but how this will somehow right some of the wrongs he has done. ‘Jesus Walks’ went on to have widespread commercial recognition, which earned Kanye an award for the Best Rap Song at the 47th Grammy Awards.

So, when I listened to Colouring Book, an entire mixtape that embraces faith and challenges the fleeting nature of praising God in mainstream hip-hop, I was astonished. I label Colouring Book as a hip-hop gospel tape that expresses the challenges of faith in many people today; the good that we do, the sins we commit and all our imperfections, knowledge of all of these things are required to better oneself, isn’t  that the reason we seek to have faith? Does your favourite rapper have Kirk Franklin, Lil Wayne, a children’s choir, T-Pain and Lil Yatchy on the same mixtape?

How exactly did Chance the Rapper change my life? From 10 days to Acid Rap and now Colouring Book, his work is a testament to his journey from getting suspending in high school, his wake-up call after the death of a close friend, becoming independent professionally and mindful, and recognising his values. I have had my wake-up call and all I strive to achieve is expressed by Chance the Rapper through his music. Chance the Rapper has asserted his presence and has positioned himself as a rapper to be reckoned with, so if you have not checked out Colouring Book, I am imploring you to do so right now.

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