Anyone in the music industry in Nigeria has long anticipated Osayaba Andrew Ize-Iyamu (known to you as Santi)’s debut album. Ever since his genre defining single Rapid Fire hit airways, it became obvious that the rapper turned singer had divergent ideas on how to market a media plan to his audience. But conversation had also revolved on how all the ideas he teased in his music would manifest when he had to deliver a full body of work to his growing audience.
In early 2019, Santi began to tease that a debut album, Mandy And the Jungle, and though he never explicitly stated, implied the album would be a concept album, with themes explored through the era’s visual imagery. His fwirst music video to announce the era, Freaky was announced with a music video that directly referenced ‘Witches’, an ‘Old Nollywood’ horror film and marketed by taking a leaf from the popular meme curators NollyBabes and accelerating a scene from the scene into virality. There was significant backlash about this, specifically because it felt Ize-Iyamu was aping the aesthetics of the era without truly understanding the limitations that led to Nigerian cinema acquiring the specific visual tone that has now become nostalgic for the current generation of content creators.
Santi followed Freaky with Rapid Fire (which is more in line with Santi’s thrasher meets jamaican dancehall vibe) and Sparky which introduces a motley crew of characters that will feature heavily on his opus Raw Dinner, but more on that later.
Sparky as a single deviated thematically from Freaky. Sure there was death and all-black outfits, but the magical realism and horror themes were largely absent. Then the album itself was released, and while groundbreaking in its own right, didn’t live up to the marketing and messaging that had suggested it would be a concept album. Jonah Bromwich’s pitchfork review panned the album, pointing out that Santi’s omnivorous tastes and influences had left the album without any real bite, citing the largely disjointed songwriting. The album had done a lot of telling, but everyone needed Santi to show us what his vision was.
Raw Dinner, his new long form music video is ambitious by all ramifications. Daberechi Ukoha-Kalu is his muse for the project, which draws from Vodoun (KidaKudz cameos as Papa Legba), The Craft (teenage witches in goth attire), anime, Anne Rice vampire lore (Daberechi’s iconic red ensemble that references Akasha) and classic Nollywood witchcraft tropes, all delivered in soupçons to his captive audience. The story telling suffers a little because Santi experiments with non-linear narratives but, that matters little to the visual delights that Santi, his production team and Daniel Obasi (who styles the project) conjure.
Perhaps people who judged Mandy As The Jungle as stretched too thin across genres should give it parse it as a sonic tableau on which Ize-Iyamu builds his fantastical tales. But more importantly, in a way that completely deviates from offerings by Falz, the other mainstream artis who favours long form videos, Raw Dinner makes a case for the Nigerian visual album as a better way to consume the work of Nigerian experimental artists.
Watch Raw Dinner here.