Since Joey Akan left his very controversial position as the head music reviewer at Pulse.NG, everyone’s been speculating where he would pop up next. Using the power and position of Ringer, Pulse’s parent company, and the access that the popular music analysis podcast Loose talk provided, Joey built a network of industry relationships that saw him get first bite at many of the most important albums of the last half decade, especially among the ‘alte’ movement. His departure from Pulse was an event, and
Since then he has started his own podcast, No Ketchup (that has a loyal following but never quite matched the vim of Loosetalk), acquired a number of international by-lines (Dj Booth, Atavist Mag, All Africa) and started a column with hard to pin down news conglomerate Guardian Nigeria. There was of course the stint at Okay Africa and all the rumours that things didn’t exactly end of amicable terms.
But nothing Joey has done since he left Pulse, has quite matched the intensity of his reviews and the fervor they inspired in his audience, Not even the radio show he recently announced in collaboration with Cool FM Nigeria called ‘The Game’ (co-hosted affectionately by Segun Akande), which is built around the idea that Akan’s early involvement with the ‘alte’ music movement has given him particular insights that have become necessary to understanding the progress of the movement as it transitions into the mainstream. The reviews were direct in a way, none of these other opportunities allow and maybe that kind of blunt, unvarnished honesty and started a number of copycat columns.
For my debut on @thefader, I review Burna Boy’s “African Giant” album. I examine his brave decision to crossover with a measure of local ownership and a narrative that isn’t sacrificed or weakened as a prerequisite for global appeal. https://t.co/wydFQLRw87
— Joey St. Louis (@JoeyAkan) July 29, 2019
But now, Joey is making a comeback to reviews, and he is doing it with quite the statement. His new byline is for the Fader magazine (yeah, that one), and his review is on Burna Boy’s seminal album, African Giant. I personally feel the album feels very neutered, but you have to play nice when you’re playing in the big leagues.
It will be interesting to see what this does for the Nigerian music industry; especially now when our music is hot on the globe (thanks Beyoncé) and our audiences are complaining that foreign reviewers lack the context or appreciation for the cultural influences of our music to truly analyse it.
Will this make a dent in how Burna’s album is being received? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Edwin Okolo is an author and journalist who has worked with YNaija, TheNativemag and the Naked Convos.