“Ostentatious Praise!” – Album Review: Midnight Crew’s ‘King of Nations’
‘King of nations’ is the group’s 4th album and does not depart much from the tested, albeit winning formula of the last album.
In 2008, a little known quartet named Midnight Crew released their third album, ‘Igwe.’ The album’s lead single (of the same title) quickly generated a force of life of its own and became an unstoppable monster, eventually growing bigger than the band itself. Every church, school or wedding band’s set list was incomplete without that rousing chant, ditto contestants on the myriad talent hunt shows and even (gasp!) club deejays. Oh yes! Everyone wanted (and got) a piece of the song, leading us to wonder aloud how the band kept up with royalty and copyright dues.
One would have thought their follow up album would arrive with a bit more fanfare so we were quite miffed to find we almost missed it. Still, better late than never, right?
Released during the twilight days of 2011, ‘King of nations’ is the group’s 4th album and does not depart much from the tested, albeit winning formula of the last album.
The recipe for the opener, ‘Communicate’ is taken right out of the ‘Igwe’ cook book, with vocal powerhouse, Patricia Uwaje King giving a sterling stomping performance in Pidgin, Yoruba and Igbo languages. With her thick, multi-layered syrupy voice, she is the undisputed vocal identity of the group and her peerless pipes also take charge in songs like ‘Mbene’ and ‘I no too shout’ Her prowess is in full display on ‘Extra praize’, a number that has her on lead while the rest struggle to play catch up.
This is not to suggest that the others are any less talented. Ayo Ojo keeps up with Ms. King at every level and her strong soprano powers the folksy, ‘Mo Dibo’ and the Salsa tinged dance number, ‘Yin Baba’
The men have always had a local thing going for them and the predictable ‘Next Fuji Thing’, a seven minutes tour de force of thumping drums, Fuji gyration and medleys plays maximally to their strength. While enjoyable, it however lacks the punch packed by its predecessor, ‘That Fuji thing’ on the ‘Igwe’ album.
They however, do one better on the playful, ‘E gimme money,’ a wonderful mash up of Kanye West, Whitney, rock, Fuji and everything in between. The obvious template is Igwe’s ‘rap & razz’ but they nail this one to the wall. You know it is ridiculous but you’ll keep singing along helplessly.
There is the compulsory ode to Southern Africa, ’Arise Africa’, and a couple of fillers here and there but by the time Ms King returns for the rousing worship number, ‘So good’, you trust that you have been in in good hands. The whole experience climaxes with a refreshing ballad, ‘Who am I?’
Their lyrical content is still basic praise and worship fare and some of the songs are pretty ordinary, but the sheer energy of the performances and depth of talent raises ‘King of nations’ above other stuff out there.
Such lavish and ostentatious praise is probably not best suited for this sober, reflective period of lent but when the good Lord rises, to deny yourself this sumptuous treat would be abstinence taken to the point of mortification and that would be just too bad.