by Wilfred Okichie
Tosin Ajibade, the artiste better known as Mr Eazi was the toast of the past year. He scored moderately successful singles,- by himself and as a guest artiste,- and appeared on a good number of the big albums released in 2016. Life was so good he even put together a Lagos concert in the thick of the December festivities. Everybody loved Mr Eazi, even the Starboy himself,- Wizkid, not the Canadian impersonator.
Till he tweeted.
Something about most of the Nigerian pop music we hear owing plenty of its influence to neighbouring Ghana. Context is everything and what may have slid by unnoticed coming from another artiste was quickly seized on by the Twitter and Facebook outrage machine.
Mr Eazi may be born Nigerian, but he spent a good number of his music making early years in Ghana while studying for a higher education. He only blew up in Nigeria after making some inroads in Ghana. But do not tell this to Nigerians still holding on to some superiority complex feels that are not necessarily limited to Jollof Rice.
The tweet may have threatened Mr Eazi’s career but it hasn’t derailed it. The release of the Life is Eazi mixtape: Accra to Lagos is proof that Mr Eazi is still swimming along nicely, from coast to coast. He has been a devout student of the Ghanaian underground scene and his sound, refreshing as it is, is merely an update of Ghanaian smooth high life, by way of Burna Boy.
Accra to Lagos plays like it could have been recorded in a Lagos or Ghanaian studio, for a cosmopolitan audience, and the choice of producers certainly point to that. Ditching his day one collaborator, Juls, the record features a who is who of the most contemporary names in the business. From Nigeria’s Masterkraft, Maleek Berry and Del B, to Killbeats from the Gold Coast, the record seems designed for pure hit-making impact.
But Mr Eazi’s idea of a hit is not the regular upbeat, hip thrusting bang that constitute today’s top ten radio. In this regard, Mr Eazi has bent the rules a bit, luring audiences to his cause with his mid-tempo slow burners. They take their time but they crawl under the skin eventually. Life is Eazi is cut from this cloth. It won’t impress instantly with its brazenness but it may well show some staying power, should his audience show interest in sticking around longer. There is nothing to suggest they won’t.
Accra to Lagos opens with the feel good Leg Over, and the lines, My baby dey confuse me with her bum bum. If the lyrics appear familiar, it is because such sentiments were similarly employed on his bouncy 2016 hit Hollup. Mr Eazi’s method is non-hurried, lazy even, as he seduces with his low hum and attempts at hitting higher notes.
He does not always succeed, like the fast paced Feelings, in which Eazi struggles to keep up with YungJon the wicked, but someone please give him credit for effort. The bulk of the songs have to do with male-female relationships; infatuation, seduction, disappointment, betrayal and Eazi just attempts fresher, hip ways to tell the same stories.
His high profile guests are mostly uneven. Blink and be sure to miss DJ Cuppy’s negligible cameo on Fight. Tekno is an epic fail on the improbable Short Skirt, the same song in which Mr Eazi stumbles on the not so bright idea to ask some poor girl to hold me down like a short skirt. Tekno may make you dumber, but to compensate, he almost always guarantees pleasurable hits. This one has no redeeming element. Olamide and Phyno are a tag team on the reductive Life is Eazi and the local rappers obviously inspired the unengaging bonus track, My Baby, an uninspired clone of the Connect-Fada Fada- Abule Sowo corridor.
Business and Tilapia (ft. Medikal) are very much in keeping with the laid back, pleasurable sweetness of Mr Eazi’s earlier work. His is obviously a brand that still needs work; maybe not in style, but especially in substance. The hats, the good looks, the Ghana must go bags inspired costumes may catch the eye but transcending the settling monotone demands hard work.
Not so easy now is it?
Creative mind. Enthusiast. Learner. Multipotentialite. And here, an assistant editor.