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.
Listen on Soundcloud or download here.
Hip-hop as a music genre started way back in the late 80s with the likes of Slick Rick making it an art worthy of emulation. And commercialization. With the advent of hip-hop as a mainstream genre in the 90s (’95 was a pivotal year for the art), black culture was pushed beyond borders with the likes (and craft) of Pac, Biggie, Dre, Diddy, Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, Rakim, Eazy-E and a host of other talents too numerous to mention. In a sense, hip-hop moved the black culture and its attendant struggles from the inner city streets into the faces of white America with a host of topics ranging from politically charged raps to ghetto living. For this, their stars were revered and received an almost god-like status with their people.
So, what does that mean to someone on the other side of the world being born right about then? Growing up as a “90s baby“, I never really understood what the hip-hop was all about because I had the most protective parents anyone would wish for. There was this perception right around that time about hip-hop being written by and for the uneducated and morally decadent folks in society. A slightly myopic view but hey, it’s not their fault after the well-publicized murders of Biggie and Pac due to a perceived rivalry and the borderline misogynistic and violence filled lyrics of some artistes.
But with the advent of technology (thank God for the Internet and cloud storage), one can transport himself/herself back in time, so to speak, to listen to and understand the music that shaped the ever-changing hip-hop scene we know now back in the day when hip-hop was an aesthetic, every bit as serious and worth cherishing.
Here’s a list of classics from the early 90s to 2000s I listened to that helped shape my understanding and appreciation of hip-hop, not just as a craft but an intricate form of art:
1. A Tribe Called Quest: People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm (1990)
2. A Tribe Called Quest’s ’91 classic The Low End Theory
3. Dr. Dre’s The Chronic released in 1992
4. Wu-Tang Clan’s 1993 benchmark debut Enter The Wu-Tang [36 Chambers]
5. Snoop Doggy Dogg: Doggystyle (1993)
6. 1994’s Illmatic by Nas
7. Resurrection (1994) by Common Sense [now known as Common]
8. The Notorious B.I.G.: Ready To Die (1994)
9. 2Pac: Me Against The World (1995)
10. Fugees: The Score (1996)
11. Jay-Z’s 1996 Reasonable Doubt
12. Liquid Swords by Genius/GZA, released in ’95
13. Nas’s 1996 It Was Written
14. OutKast: ATLiens (1996)
15. Lauryn Hill: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
16. DMX: It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot (1998)
17. 2001, an album by Dr. Dre released in 1999
18. Mos Def: Black On Both Sides (1999)
19. Eminem: The Slim Shady LP (1999)
20. Eminem’s 2000 Marshall Mathers LP
What are your top hip-hop albums of the 90s? Feel free to add yours in the “Comments”.
In our short stay on Earth (which I think should have been aptly named Water), we all go through different phases in our tough existence; phases that can be broadly classified into two: ups and downs. But most times, the low moments are more commonplace and frequent than the highs.
Being sentient beings, consciousness has been man’s plague since time immemorial so it’s perfectly normal to feel sad, down or irritable every now and then. Insane stuff happens that brings you down from your “Unfuckwithable” level to something similar to emotional/mental groveling: people let you down, things go wrong (failing your Finals or flunking the interview to your dream job. Again.), losing those you hold most dear (do I need to vividly describe how horrible death or heartbreak is?) or seeing dreams and plans you huffed and puffed to nurture into maturity just bite the dust. These are but a few instances, we’ve all had similar moments and it’s absolutely normal. At times like this, facing the world each morning can be difficult and simple everyday tasks seem daunting.
We all get down sometimes but fortunately there are a lot of things that can help. Many times in the past year and a few times in past months, I’ve felt like I was at an all-time low (yes, this is a Jon Bellion reference) and music was all I had to beat the stressful and unpredictable rollercoaster ride of depression. Although music can’t cure depression (wouldn’t that be something?), it’s been proven to reduce stress and even depressive symptoms. Hers’a list of songs, a playlist of sorts, to help you turn the light of encouragement and inspiration on and dissolve the monster of depression and its other demons. Enjoy.
Tomorrowland (All Fall Down) by Leon Else
People Like Us by Kelly Clarkson
Collide by Howie Day
Shake It Out by Florence & The Machine
Let It Go by Demi Lovato
Maybe IDK by Jon Bellion
Intentional by Travis Greene
That’s Life by Frank Sinatra
Love Yourz by J. Cole
Fight Song by Rachel Platten
Rise by Katy Perry
Three Little Birds by Bob Marley
I Believe I Can Fly by R. Kelly
Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield
Swim by Jack’s Mannequin
Now Is The Start by A Fine Frenzy
I Choose by India Arie
Make It Happen by Mariah Carey
We All Fall Down by Bon Jovi
Today Is Your Day by Shania Twain
We Are The Champions by Queen
Firework by Katy Perry
Alive by Sia
I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor
What Doesn’t Kill You [Stronger] by Kelly Clarkson
Titanium by David Guetta (featuring Sia)
Masterpiece by Jessie J
I Won’t Back Down by Tom Petty
We Don’t Run by Bon Jovi
Spread Your Wings by Queen
We’re Not Gonna Take It by Twisted Sister
Never Been by Logic
Brymo’s fifth studio album has certainly generated a lot of buzz about it and, of course, the artist involved in its creation. Since his Choc City split, the singer has had free reins to explore a variety of musical blends, transitional genres and vivid emotional imagery which are aptly applied on his works and has produced worthy dividends with every new application.
Before release, the album’s title caused quite a stir on social media. The title is the most “vulgar” and audacious any Nigerian artist has ever been in the conservative Nigerian music industry but then, stoking the fires of controversy is his MO (Who can forget the ever-memorable “Prick No Get Shoulder”). While some of us may vent wildly about his spate of uncouthness, I’m inclined to believe this is simply a formula he came up with to entice the Nigerian (and foreign) audience to listen to his craft, similar to a Venus flytrap showing off dazzling colors to attract the eyes of roving insects.
The album title is a masterful blend symbology and deft marketing psychology. Klitoris is a Greek word (written in Ancient Greek as κλειτορίς) which means “a key, a latch or hook to a door”. How brilliant is that? If he was to name his album “Key”, would you bother to give it a second glance? The title is also symbolic because the clitoris is the most sensitive part of the female genitalia which is the entrance to heightened pleasure so maybe Klitoris promises to be a series of amazing eargasms (I just came up with that!).
While our Twitter feeds and music blogs were having a field day with the title, he smacks us in the face with another controversial issue: the cover art. He released the artwork for his latest LP with social media raving about the “devilish demon worship” art. To me, I believe it was an big plus for the most part. Ancient beliefs held the nude human form as the purest form of divinity. That was why artists such as Michelangelo, Botticelli and da Vinci had their most revered pieces in the nude (Michelangelo’s “David” and da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man”). Anyways, this isn’t art history or a symbology lecture so, moving on….
Amid the fiery controversy started by the album’s title and fueled to new heights by its art, Brymo’s latest body of work has been received with open arms, ears and minds as he reins in his audience with engaging and melodious harmonies interspersed with sultry vocals on the most simplistic of all subjects – love.
The 35-minute LP, in all its majesty, sees the singer lyrically appealing to an alluring woman he desires.
Klitoris kicks off with the sensual Naked which drips with introspection and longing, feelings commonplace as unconscious daily actions. With lyrics like: “And it will be worth it, your love I don’t deserve it, take all I have please, love me leave me naked”, he freely opens up to his lover on his willingness, problems and desires. Over a rhythmic beat laden with bongo drums balanced with strong backup vocals, this is a strong opener to this album. An instantly loveable song.
Dem Dey Go is an allegory themed ode, encouraging unity as a people. He reiterates the struggle of the Nigerian state to stay united albeit echoing the efforts of “silly, sneaky and sleazy” people putting the country in the wrong spotlight. A thought-provoking song in its own right worthy of massive airplay.
Happy Memories tells the story of a lover remembering the nostalgic and joyous moments of the past which presently elude him. With a tuneful melody, few will realize this is a sad song but it’s worthy to also be a love song; the kind you play when you’re alone with your partner during some cuddly moments.
Ko S’aya Mi tries to add depth and meaning to an already soulful LP. Creative in its own right but borders on bland.
Fela’s influence in Brymo’s style of music is vividly apparent on Alajo Somolu. It is centered on the character of Yoruba folklore with amazing street smarts who sold his car for a bicycle. Good musical qualities, powerful accompaniments, quick witty lyrics and its seamless blend of juju and new school makes this one ageless. You can’t help but burst out your best Fela moves on this one.
Something Good Is Happening is that feel-good song one would certainly bump in the morning before slaying the day. Something good about this song is the experimentation on Brymo’s part in trying to fuse rock and juju. A nice upbeat vibe.
Billion Naira Dream is a song that will instantly appeal to everyone striving for success. On this, Brymo preaches hope for lost dreams, aspirations and everything we strive to be good at. An inspirational song at its best. All that’s left are skillful visuals to complement the vibrancy of this track.
On Let’s Make Love, sensuality meets song-writing. Yes, we love that! In one word: ethereal. The ultimate post-coital song.
Brymo adds depth to an already blissful relationship with Mirage. With lyrics like “take a break from reality, take a flight to Mars” and “let us get high and fall from the sky”, he endears to his partner by making promises of emotional bliss. While stroking her hair (This is the product of the overactive imagination of a hopeless romantic ).
The Way The Cookie Crumbles is a perfect experimentation of genre fusion with the singer fusing reggae and electro into one. This gives way to the airless The Girl From New York which serves as the album’s epilogue.
On a whole, this is a great album and performance. The melodies are strong and tuneful and Brymo’s soulful vocals puts real feeling to the lyrics and lets your mind do the rest. The lyrics are meaningful with double entendres and catchy phrases fused in the general theme of the album. Instrumentally, the album has rich and full accompaniments arranged to complement Brymo’s vocals very well. (Thank you Mikkyme Joses). In mainstream music, Brymo has certainly carved a niche for himself. Overall, this album is distinctive for its try at originality and has a strong commercial potential. If Nigerians can look past its “lewd” title.