by Wilfred Okiche
…highlife duets with Duncan Mighty and Wizboy really have no business here.
The second half of 9ice’s fourth album, ‘Versus’ can be described as a boxing arena where he books some of the biggest names in the music industry to battle with them. However, he withholds the one battle we would have paid premium price to see. Admit it, a 9ice vs. Ruggedman duel is a tantalizing prospect and would have been worth the price of this album.
If wishes were horses, right? Still the record manages to get by nicely without it.
9ice vs. 2face is the show opener and sets the pace for the rest of the album. A slow, mellow opening that soon gives way to a rousing finish, complete with soaring keyboard strings and beating drums as both men contemplate the irony of beauty. It plays like it was recorded after both singers emerged from a substance-induced haze, the good kind, that is.
The duet with Wizkid has the pop sensation breezing through the track in the same dependable way he always does. Not so for his mentor, Banky W who struggles to adjust to 9ice’s rhythm and somehow the tempo never truly gets off the ground.
9ice vs. Tiwa Savage is the album’s true highlight and has Ms Savage’s brittle vocal gymnastics matching 9ice’s rough ‘sand-paper’ delivery. TY Mix melds both performers into a wholesome meal that goes down easy. Perhaps if he had been allowed more chances like he was in ‘Bashorun Gaa’, the record would have realised it’s full potentials.
Ceepho does the bulk of the work here and while he enjoys great chemistry with 9ice, he does not quite transfer this magic to the guest artistes who form the crux of this record. Thus where there should have been a single surround sound, the album plays like a collection of hit singles cobbled together. Having said this, they manage to find common ground on the 9ice vs. Dagrin and 9ice vs. Seriki singles.
He reunites with former soul mate ,ID Cabasa on 9ice vs. Kwam 1 and the Fuji veteran shows just why he has been around this long.
Alas things begin to turn sour. With seventeen tracks, the album is quite long and some unnecessary cuts like the highlife duets with Duncan Mighty and Wizboy really have no business here. 9ice vs Mode 9 does not make much sense and M.I could have put in more effort on his verses.
‘Versus’ might have been made to appeal to a broader audience but it only proves that true talent demands minimal embellishments, (indeed the best song on the disc is an unlisted solo performance that sounds like it would fit better in ‘Bashorun Gaa’.) The real battle here is between both records and it is ‘Bashorun Gaa’ that emerges victor.