“Authentic” presents a dancing threat, one that even a casual listen reveals screaming dance tunes brought in from various corners of the continent.
Album – “Authentic” (The African Edition)
Artiste – J. Martins
Producers – J Martins
Record Label – Don Family Music Group (2016)
Duration – 59 minutes
J. Martins is what you call an OG. A singer and producer, the man from Ohafia, Abia state has traversed the country making music from every corner, thrilling every audience and producing for some of the greatest acts to come out of the continent.
These days, that corner has been stretched, with the singer technically abandoning Nigeria, to make his travels and efforts more Pan-African. J Martins within the last two years has featured more acts outside the shores of Nigeria than any other local act. Prior to the arrival of “Authentic”, he had three albums in his corner. And on the fourth one, he presents his current state of mind and creative influences.
“Authentic” is classified as ‘The African Edition’ because it belongs to the continent. This isn’t difficult to decipher once you look at the collaborators. There’s DJ Arafat from Côte d’Ivoire who makes music of the Coupé-Décalé genre. Ferre Gola who is a Congolese Rumba, Soukous, and Ndombolo performer. There’s also the big name Koffi Olomide, and Uganda’s Jose Chameleon.
“Authentic” presents a dancing threat, one that even a casual listen reveals screaming dance tunes brought in from various corners of the continent. Opener ‘Touch and follow’ begins as a wave of instrumentation and gong and mutates into a mash of keyboard and popping guitar, Francophone Soukous lurks in the punchy ‘Ekelebe’ and there’s an engaging synth triggered throughout the thirsty Koffi Olomide-backed ‘Dance 4 me’.
Highlife is another interesting feature of the LP, as the singer becomes one with Igbo Highlife champion Bright Chimezie in ‘Alabeke’. You could hear the laughter from local parties and celebrations as this plays over you. It is also strong in rattling ‘Obiona’. The saxophone gets unleashed as the guitars, drums and rattles become one.
Digging deeper reveals J Martins’ two key tools. Firstly, a simplicity of lyrics: His love for the most basic of words and lyrical content is almost art in itself. Even ‘Touchin body’, the most recognisably Martins song here, features features nothing more than the primary forms pidgin English and Igbo – for ‘Faro Faro’ – it is positively engaging. The reflective wisdom of ‘Ikwusigo’ and the thumping pleas of ‘Sarafina is positively dirty. His second agent of change is DJ Arafat, likely because the duo work so well on ‘Touching body’, ‘Sarafina’ and ‘Faro faro’.
Things do get a little rushed, and repetitive on this album, but we have break points at the Trap ‘Stupid’ featuring Zoro and Vector. Also, the Spanish guitars are soothing on ‘Celebrate Africa’, a song whose instrumentals was sampled from Duncan Mighty’s classic ‘Scatter my dada’ off his 2008 album “Koliwater”.
J Martins have never laid claims to being the best of the lot, with his production skill far outweighing the vocal part. But he locks on to a mission, plans the steps, and gets work done. Pan-Africanism is present bread and butter, and he tackles it with vigor and panache.
3-Worth Checking Out