by Ore Fakorede
Cobhams Emmanuel Asuquo is, in his own words, unsighted. I’ve always known that. Cobhams is a great producer. That’s no news. However, the realization that he is Nigeria’s god of music production hit me sometime after 10:00 p.m. yesterday, January 28, 2011 when the following tweet was posted by the superproducer/singer/songwriter and all-round God’s gift to humanity on his Twitter page.
“HERE IT IS!! DOWNLOAD AND RETWEET TO INFINITY…
Transformation (written and produced by Cobhams).mp3 – 4shared.com – online file sharing and storage – download via TweetDeck”
I downloaded ‘Transformation’ and everything changed.
The man who gave the world Asa is an understated prodigy. Known for writing and producing songs with deep lyrics and awe-inspiring instrumentals, he appears in the simplest and subtlest of ways, and then hits with the force of a cyclone. Cobhams takes production credits for Asa’s globally acclaimed ‘Jailer’, Darey’s hit single, ’Escalade’, Mode Nine’s ‘Cry’ which won three Channel O Music Video Awards in 2006 and Rooftop Mcs’ alternative rock hit, ‘Lagimo’, among other songs and commercials. With a distinctive style that employs intuitive lyrical and instrumental arrangements, his work cannot be mistaken for another‘s. Two weeks ago, Cobhams struck again with ‘If You Ask Me (Na Who I Go Ask)’, the first single off Idols West Africa 2007 runner-up and R&B artiste Omawumi’s upcoming sophomore album. With jazz improvisations and soulful vocals strongly reminiscent of Janelle Monáe’s ‘Tightrope’, Cobhams and Omawumi fashioned a superb hit. Yet, ‘Transformation’ is on a much higher plane of musical existence.
Until last night, I had never heard of Omolara Ayodele. Cobhams had earlier referred to her as his ‘home girl’ somewhere on his Twitter timeline, but that doesn’t mean much. Our formal introduction was one-sided, executed perfectly by her lilting vocals piping Mr. Asuquo’s emotive lyrics into my ears through my trusty Nokia ear buds. ‘Pleased to meet you Omolara, very pleased to meet you!” I said to myself after she had sung the first verse of ‘Transformation‘. Her voice reminds me of Vanessa Williams on ‘Colours Of The Wind’ (from the soundtrack of Disney’s blockbuster, ‘Pocahontas’), and I still have goose bumps every time I hear it.
Deceptively light and quick to invoke an angelic tremolo, Omolara is all sweetness like a Catholic boys’ choir. Grand yet unobtrusive, intricate yet uncomplicated, Cobhams’ arrangement of strings, piano and snares is uplifting. It would be right at home on a collection of Yanni‘s greatest hits. Here, it is so easy to visualize a mini-orchestra playing the backing symphony that is Omolara’s playground- strings in full-swing, woodwinds in melodic harmony, percussions on a roll and a piano to guide them all. Sans Auto-tune, Miss Ayodele’s voice is peerless, projecting in its rawness an unexpected sophistication that only opera queens possess. Her voice, a refreshing contrast to the synth-laden vocals of Nigeria’s pop divas, has a soul.
The message of ‘Transformation’ is undisguised and once again, Cobhams Asuquo excels brilliantly at his lyricism. A true clarion call, the song impinges on the very heart of Nigeria’s need for change by asserting that Nigerians themselves “are the transformation“. It’s amazing how a song that lasts for less than five minutes can succinctly state what policy makers have neglected to say through decades of tumult and backwardness in a once glorious nation. The timing of this song’s release is almost divine, as it comes at a time when Nigerians have an opportunity to change the way they are lead. With more meaning, conscious relevance and lyrical depth than our good old national anthem, ‘Transformation’ could very well be the theme song for the 2011 general elections. God forbid that any candidate bids successfully for the rights to use this precious song in another glib, patronizing campaign commercial. God forbid!
“We have had our share of battles, we have known our days of pain/But through it all we’ve stayed together, in our hearts our hope we made; we believe we can be better, we can reach our destiny/Only when we are transformed can we be our destiny.”
While reaffirming his pole position in music production and song writing, the prodigious Cobhams has, perhaps unwittingly, gifted Nigerian music with a gem in Omolara. This yin-yang relationship will no doubt bear the fruit of a full-length debut album in the near future. We collectively hold our breaths.
Listen, Download, Put On Repeat & Share: Transformation
Follow Omolara On Twitter: @omolaraayodele
Follow Cobhams On Twitter: @cobhamsasuquo