Album review: Baddest guy ever liveth? Not quite

by Wilfred Okiche

Olamide Adedeji, heir to the throne of indigenous rap and most visible act to fulfill the aborted promise of Dagrin who was cut short in his prime arrives with his third album exactly a year after his sophomore release ‘YBNL’.
‘YBNL’ housed some of the biggest hits of Olamide’s career (First of all, Stupid love) but suffered from a verbosity explained by his youth and independence. It was his first effort since parting ways with his former label and managent and the young man was aggressive, throwing all his punches wildly, hitting the target at times and missing more than a few.

It was an approach that was relevant and reflective of that period of his career but one year later and the young man has become one of the biggest acts on the scene. A star shinning bright and hitting highs. ‘Baddest guy ever liveth’ should have been a marked improvement- in style, sound and approach to material- on ‘YBNL’. It is not, rather it plays like a interesting B-side project from an artiste currently navigating his prime years.

Olamide’s prolific streak has not left him and ‘BGEL’ is overly lengthy, clocking in at 21 tracks. The themes of the songs run the gamut from the chest-thumping to the sober reflective narratives. Opener ‘Esu pofo’ sports a sweetened modern traditional beat that blends in with his catchy sing along hook and covert bragging. He admits his lack of singing prowess but carries on bravely and his charm makes this one of the album’s highlights.

His friends from the hood Pheelz and Buckwyla join him on the wannabe street anthem ‘Rep adugbo’ and the singing again makes for a generous portion of the song’s charm as they page homage to the hood that schooled them. A pleasant surprise lurks on ‘Anifowose’ an instant standout that samples a brilliant chorus from K1 D Ultimate. The finishing is near perfect and it demands constant replays. His wordplay comes in torrents here and he drops the mischevious lines, Versace Versace you’re rocking Versace /your mummy is hungry Oloshi.

He samples Grammy winning folk group Mumford and Sons on ‘Motivation’ but the early promise is squandered by his rusty word play and an Ice Prince verse that is as cheesy as one would expect from M.I’s guy.

While the energy on the Pheelz-produced ‘Skamma’ carries the song past the avoidable rote routine, duds like ‘Baddo love’, ‘Position yourself’ and ‘Mu emu’ cannot are only present to increase the disc’s running time uneccesarily.

The rapper in him finds expression in songs like King shii where he rides a foreboding beat a la ‘Voice of the streets’, ‘Sitting on the throne’ where he establishes his superiority without actually insulting any of his peers or elders. On ‘Dope money’ he reunites with his soulmate Phyno and the sizzling chemistry evident on ‘Ghost mode’ is no fluke. Phyno tends to come out tops in these pairings but Olamide never allows him an easy ride to it. Stuff of great collaborations.

He sings admirably on the mega hit ‘Eleda mi’ and brightens the chorus on ‘Yemi my lover’ and ‘Turn up’; all radio friendly earworms and Bez turns in a serviceable chorus verging on boring on ‘Higher.’

Olamide is still aggressive with loads and loads of energy to burn but he appears spent in between the genuine bursts of lyrical dexterity. ‘BGEL’ is good when it’s good but stinks when it isn’t and its excess could easily have been bypassed. Rough around the edges and untamed, it does not suggest the artistic growth that Olamide really is going through. Like Ali in his prime, Olamide’s ‘BGEL’ floats like a butterfly alright but finds trouble stinging with the rhyme.
The writer tweets from @drwill20

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