Album Review: Etcetera says “Yes I Am”

by Aziza Uko

Yes I Am is Etcetera’s sophomore studio album. In this effort, Etcetera unites with one of Nigeria’s finest music producers and long-time collaborator Wole Oni. The album is recorded live in the studio with an A-list ensemble of musicians including legendary guitarist, Pa Oscar Illimbi.

In a music clime dominated by digitally generated and enhanced music, it is refreshing to hear an entire album made of live music, carefully crafted with a blend of modern world beats with retro-Nigerian styles. Yes I Am is best enjoyed with a tempered volume, a leveled mind, and in its incorrigible intensity it lifts the spirit, stirs the soul and speaks directly to the conscience.

With earnest emotions, Etcetera displays his creative genius as a song writer. He sings of a pleading love, an unyielding love, and a love fulfilled. In Third Eye Blind, the first single off the album, Etcetera proves that love doesn’t always have strong reasons and to those who would wish to intrude in his choice, he boldly asks, “What’s your business?” In 500 Letters, he sings of infidelity and the worst version of a woman’s scorn. “Love me, love me, make me feel like a tourist in heaven; Kiss me right here, make me feel like a tourist in heaven,” he pleads in Tourist in Heaven. Alibi is a delicate pop piece produced by Etcetera and Kraft; featuring fellow X3M (Extreme) Music artiste, OD.

Highly opinionated and unapologetically deep, Etcetera, in Ring the Alarm, cries, “… there’s a thief in the government house. Ring the alarm, before they blame it on Mickey Mouse… Portfolio filled with bills for thugs to kill, in the name of politics.” He holds a mirror up for the society in Ghost Workers, “Benin City is now in Italy. Government is singing, people are dancing. Pick pocket and bankers scrambling for my money. Touts and police officers, we just have to pray. Mr. Megacity, Mrs. Rebranding, what’s the essence of beauty to the man who is dying? Turn off the TV, turn on reality. The good thing about this government, they make us laugh.” Relentless, in Fungus Among Us, in poetry and in prayer for Nigeria, “Citizen of heaven lives in hell. Who killed Abiola? Who killed Saro-wiwa? Who killed Dele Giwa? Fungus among us. O Lord, release the fungicide on fungus among us. Let it rain, let it rain.”

In an era where the standard contribution consists of ill-considered compromises and most seem to have run out of ideas, Etcetera (with Yes I Am) stands out as one who with his craft and authentic social commentary would help shape the collective values of our nation. Etcetera has enormous talent, a genuine vision, an irrepressible message, a fierce ambition, and an unbending toughness. That’s unarguably the cocktail of a true artiste.

Yes I Am joins the rare league of class acts – its entire 63 minutes has no pointless moment, its melody haunting, and its message urgent and poignant. Etcetera succeeds in infusing soft rock into native Nigerian rhythms and creating thereof a sophisticated and respectable art form. Yes I Am helps usher back the golden age of Nigerian music. With Yes I Am, Etcetera has given us what he is – an absolute treasure.

Aziza Uko lives on a peninsula in Lagos State; enjoys Irish Cream and music. She thinks Whitney Houston is the most gifted and Vanity Fair is the best. Aziza is a marketing communications and strategy expert.  She can be reached at [email protected].

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