Concert Review: Becoming FalzTheBahdGuy was solid but Falz hasn’t quite arrived yet

On the creative level, Falz’s entire career so far has gone through the three major stages; the climb, the peak and the dip. Every creative pretty much follows this trajectory, but the fleeting nature of pop stardom ensures that performers tend to complete this arc sooner rather than later.

For evidence of this, look no further than Falz’s entire solo discography.

His debut album, Wazup Guy, a fat, meandering record offered a peep into what a new generation of music makers could get up to if given a chance. Pointing at a new school of vibe makers, through production from Studio Magic and Kid Connect, Falz – born Folarin Falana – zipped from blistering political analysis and social commentary to the challenges of young love, with a glint in his eye and plenty charm in his rhymes. The record was a muted success but more importantly, it presented Falz with the impetus to double down on his rap career.

While headlining the Trace Live music event put together by Trace TV, Falz spent plenty of time – perhaps too much time – narrating the journey of his rise to prominence. He went down memory lane, recalling the early days prior to the fame, a car accident that threatened to derail his career – he still has the scars – and his chance meeting with the prodigious producer, Sess the Problem Kid, that birthed a fruitful working partnership.

Falz isn’t the likeliest nominee to headline a live music spectacle that places a premium on vocal ability and musical showmanship – Flavour, Omawumi and Adekunle Gold have been previous headliners – but on closer introspection, the choice makes sense, especially taken from a strategic angle.

Falz has been the most talked about rapper of the year, thanks to a string of hit singles plus a viral reimagining of Childish Gambino’s This is America single that had him getting mentions from the likes of American super producer, Diddy. It would be foolish to ignore a red-hot Falz. He has the hits, the crossover appeal and the marquee name.

For Becoming Falz TheBahdGuy, Falz put on a solid, if not-quite-superior performance for the motley crowd of music lovers who braved the rains to gather at the Terra Kulture Arena in Victoria Island on the night of Friday, 13, July.

The start was tentative as Falz went through his less popular songs from the Wazup Guy Album. High Class, Marry Me and Toyin Tomato were received politely by the audience, many of whom joined the Falz train about a year after his debut, with the arrival of the near-excellent Stories that Touch, his second record.

Stories that Touch made Falz a bonafide superstar, housing mega-hits like Soldier (a duet with Simi), Soft Work and Karishika. Falz gave an anecdote about banking his all on the record and urging producer, Sess to give it his best shot. It was either major success or a return to corporate Nigeria to apply his Law degree. Thankfully, Stories that Touch took off, and the rest, as they say is history.

Falz opened this second act with Clap and by this time the crowd was sufficiently warmed up by the familiarity of the material, singing along joyfully to Soldier and rapping along to Soft Work. He was assisted by an untidy mix of dancers plus a stellar live band that strained to overshadow the recorded background music.

Falz engaged with the audience, rapping, dancing and providing guided commentary, especially in relation to his politically conscious side, before launching into a sober rendition of This is Nigeria. The performance, proof that the song does not exactly lend itself to be dispatched live. Falz responded graciously to questions put across to him on Twitter and sparred with selected members of the audience.

He made some announcements as well. The date for the return leg of his runaway concert, The Falz Experience was announced for 30th December and vocalist Sir Dauda was unveiled, complete with a cheesy ‘’chaining’’ ceremony, as the first act to be signed to Falz’s BahdGuy record label. Both acts performed Falz’s newest single, Boogie.

If the Falz creative decline started on his third record, 2017’s 27, a monotonous project where Falz began to show signs of lethargy, it didn’t quite play out like so at Terra Kulture. Falz’s discography isn’t complete without mentioning Chemistry, the duet EP with Simi but that came in between his second and third albums but for Becoming Falz, he chose to leave it out of his set list.

The third and final act of the night was also the liveliest as Falz unlocked new energy levels on his way to rewarding his appreciative audience with sing-along renditions of La Fete, Way and Le Vrai BahdGuy. He made a show of leaving the stage for the last time before returning for a stomp through Bahd Baddo Baddest sans Olamide and Davido.

The loud response to the 27 singles at Becoming Falz TheBahdGuy may have been great feedback for Falz, but it points to a worrying summation. That three albums into his career, Falz is still very much in his early-mid pop star stages, where prolificity is key and one is only as good as their latest material. Becoming FalzTheBahdGuy was solid but Falz hasn’t quite arrived yet.

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