by Wilfred Okiche
Mr Wellington certainly does not help his case here as he opens ‘R&BW’ with ‘The way’, a pulse pounding anthem taken straight out of the Wizkid playbook.
It can’t be easy being Banky W right now.
Even though he has announced that his star boy, Wizkid is still a card carrying member of the EME family, unfolding events tend to suggest otherwise and every one really wants the lowdown on his latest album, ‘R&BW’, really. Only after inquiring about the Wizkid matter first.
Mr Wellington certainly does not help his case here as he opens ‘R&BW’ with ‘The Way’, a pulse pounding anthem taken straight out of the Wizkid playbook. From the opening salvo, down to the breezy delivery, the track is positively begging for a Weezy assistance but as you may or may not have heard, the kid doesn’t stay in this picture.
He begins to find his rhythm on the second song, the spell-produced ‘Good Good Loving’, strumming through some mid-tempo numbers that include the tingly hit single ‘Yes/No’ before hitting his stride with slow jams like ‘Low Key.’
You’d be totally within your rights to expect Banky to serve it up on the ballads – see they have hitherto been his forte but the slow jams on this disc seem to be the Achilles heel. The adlibs on ‘Say’ with Shaydee, Sammy and Rotimi are divine but the song is overlong and boring. So is the apologist ‘Past My Past’ (also with Shaydee). One could easily segue into the other and you wouldn’t even notice.
R&B may play the lead role but there are strong supporting turns from the rap genre that actually steal the spotlight. Banky himself is surprisingly adept on a couple of verses, outdoing himself by holding his own against some of the continent’s finest rappers (including an inspired Vector and a torrential Sarkodie) on the standout, ‘African & proud’. There is an uncredited dude who lifts some impressive weights and the other guest rappers mostly bring their A-game to the party. On ‘Magic’, Skales is witty and coherent in love; ‘’hypnotized by your wonder, beauty and I’m sprung/ you ain’t supposed to lose me, that’d be magic gone wrong.’’ Even the usually uninteresting Lynxxx elevates his rhymes; ‘’ remember money isn’t everything but your last name can get you anything/…and my sons confirm dem be bad guys /cos back then daddy was a fly guy’’ in the emotional rollercoaster, ‘Letter to my unborn child’
MI must not have gotten the memo as he lets eLDee outrun him on the dull ‘More’ and there are at least two unnecessary cuts (the Niyola assisted highlife sequel to ’Yes/No’ and the hammy 2face ‘Good good loving’ remix). The head bopping cry ‘Mercy’ however wraps things up nicely.
Everyone from Mastercraft to MI, Sarz to Spellz is on production but all they succeed in doing is making a slick album that just manages to get by. There is really not much to be excited about and you would have to be a true Banky W fan to be really impressed by this restrained effort. The disc may even struggle to produce the radio-friendly tunes to follow ‘Yes/No’ and while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, (J’odie’s ‘African woman’) we are not sure this one can fly unaided.
Mr Wellington has consciously or not been placed as the leader of the R&B pack and while he may not have much competition, he is still expected to flip the script with each outing. Stateside, dudes like Miguel and Frank Ocean have shown there are still fresh angles to approach the genre from. ‘R&BW’ follows the same route of his last effort, 2009’s ‘The Banky W Experience’ and does not attempt to surpass it, barely even touches it honestly and that is it’s biggest shortfall, something we are hoping his next effort will correct.
Wilfred Okiche tweets from @drwill20