Artist: Show Dem Camp
Album: Palmwine Music (extended play)
Genre: Hip-hop/New School
Show Dem Camp’s Palmwine Music is a breath of fresh air in a highly overcrowded, suffocating monotonous music scene filled with ‘’pon da thang gyal” crooners and teenage squabbles that make what seems to be a big mess even more unfailingly hilarious. But that’s an argument for another day.
Today’s spotlight is on eccentric Nigerian hip-hop duo, our very own Bad Meets Evil if I may, Show Dem Camp comprising of the unconventional Tec and the lyrically shrewd Denzel-voiced Ghost. The vibrant double act recently blessed our playlists and hearts with some “maglorific’ ear milk rightly titled Palmwine Music. Still growing on the back of the euphoria generated by their debut album, the fact that they are Nigeria’s only recognizable hip-hop duo, the hype surrounding the subsequent Clone Wars Vol. 2 and 3 releases, well-timed single releases (2013’s Feel Alright is probably their most popular song till date) and great collaborations like Karishika Part 2 with Falz and M.I., SDC are more successful in their career now.
The lyrically proficient crew are said to be greatly influenced by Nas and Fela to name a few and these influences play well into their style of music, boundary-pushing musical experimentation, lyrical dexterity and delivery as well as production choices giving a certain type of panache that can be termed holistic, classic even.
The 23-minute, 7-song extended play boasts a host of features with the usual co-conspirators while inducting new ones with a variety of producers from the likes of Sparx and Kid Konnect boasting production credits.
The EP kicks off with Popping Again with BOJ and Odunsi as features. The guitar, keyboard and drum licks blended perfectly well with BOJ’s specialty trippy vocals on the hook. Tec’s delivery on the first verse is done well being basically an ode to the struggles and victories of success. The radio white noise served as a finely timed break introducing Odunsi and his first line rightly suits the use of that noise we all love to hate. That palmwine making monologue works as ear candy leading the listener to explore the EP further in a sort of Hansel and Gretel way. First track and it already feels like finely refined palmwine.
What You Want provides us with a Tomi Thomas feature. I have always admired TT’s style of music and his sappy voice adds a nous of sensuality to anything he delivers. To be candid, seeing him on this SDC track is impressive and his lyrical adaptability has developed. What You Want is a really upbeat listen of which TT is accustomed to and probably a first take for SDC. The feel-good vibe is contagious and will work well on the dance floor. Ghost “ghosts” in with a serenading monologue. Ladies will love this one most especially; seems specifically tailored for Ladies’ Night. The drum and keyboard rhythms give this beat a certain trippy feel reminiscent of the kind of feel au fait with the 80s.
It’s Poe baby (but you knew that). A familiar co-conspirator with SDC opens She Wants More. “Without love is there more to life, if you wanna find out then I’m down”. Poe’s air is remains ever immaculate and his verse adds a mature blend. The interspersed guitar licks feel like something outta the church. Tec comes on next and delivers, nice wordplay but is slightly overshadowed by Ghost (imagine that irony). Ghost comes on and delivers his first full verse on the EP with a laidback A Pimp Called Slickback (Boondocks mention, yes) grown man touch. “Not one for games ‘cos some people can be poor sports”. Ghost’s delivery could probably seduce a nun to leave the convent. Worthy repeat.
Independent is SDC’s ultimate African queen exultation. Ajebutter’s voice never ceases to make a song sound blissful and his use of witty lyrics was definitely and added bonus. Tec delivers and is smooth on this one, better than he had been on the other tracks. Ghost’s lyrics shows he knows how to properly appreciate his women. “I like my brains, booty and beauty, you know triple threat, treating her man like the head ‘cos she knows she’s the neck”. Ghost’s mental imagery and repartee is remarkable and is well manifest in the quoted line because without the neck, there’s no head. This feels like a relaxed Sir Shina Peters vibe but with a heavy new school twinge. Definitely a highlight. Good visuals will be a nice accompaniment.
The Wahala Skit. A somewhat hilarious take at immortalizing the awesomeness (troubles included) of Nigerian women. Obviously a filler on the EP but it works well. The use of Feel Alright gave a nice sense of familiarity.
Compose boasts of another BOJ feature. Following the Wahala Skit, this is an amazing follow-up. BOJ sappy voice on the hook on the Fela-inspired beat is invigorating. Tec and Ghost dropped some good verses (though sparingly) on this one. The beat is my favourite on the EP; it gives a refreshing sense of listening to classic Rex Lawson or even KSA.
Funbi’s voice graces Sparx-produced Up to You. Feel-good music in all its majesty, a house party jam. Tec’s delivery was immaculate on this one, he definitely was on his A-game here. And the ever hyper Ghost delivers some more lines in his verse showing off his versatility. Funbi’s voice on the hook is contagious, you must bop your head. One of the few songs I have heard in a while that was reliant on guitars and drums and still turned out well. And that trumpet infusion at the end: heavenly.
Palmwine Music ranges over a variety of styles, all being laidback tunes, ranging from music with a markedly high-life feel (Independent) to house party vibes (Up to You), Monday Motivation (Popping Again) and club hits (What You Want) all centred around the main theme of promoting special treatment for women, wahala and all. On the whole, there are a lot of pros on this one:
Production quality: check
Release timing: check
Lyrical delivery and prowess: check
Radio friendly: check
Pace setting: double check
However, there is one con: slinging with familiar faces.
Musically, SDC are essentially not seeing further than those with whom they carved a niche with when they came on the scene. The only fresh voices are Odunsi and Tomi Thomas, the rest are basically family. I’m not saying the EP is a miss, far from that, but despite the decadent Nigerian music landscape there are certain artists who could deliver a new feel (and possibly help evolve) their style of music, for example Lindsey Abudei, Waje or even Simi.