This album isn’t what many hoped to expect from the Effyzzie Music Group woman-king, but that’s just how Africa will like it.
Album – “Mama Africa”
Artiste – Yemi Alade
Record Label – Effyzzie Music Group (2016)
Duration – 54 minutes
In 2014, ‘Johnny’ put a struggling Yemi Alade in the center of the mainstream big picture, and she took her chance like a woman who came prepared. A swift rebranding, release of more songs, promotion and effective execution gave birth to her debut album “King of Queens.”
In truth, Yemi Alade became king like no other lady can, such was her dominance in the country that once upon a time on the Third mainland bridge of Lagos, and she beamed from above the traffic from two ubiquitous brands billboard. On the continent she began a campaign to penetrate cultures, releasing key singles in French and Swahili, speaking directly to the hearts of listeners in their mother tongue and supplying them with a localized version of her music, the brand, and more of that king spice. It was only a matter of time before the new album was announced.
“Mama Africa,” a name which was chosen because her incessant continental travels, is another statement. While “King of Queens” claimed a position no one knew existed in Nigeria, “Mama Africa” seeks to consolidate on the gains of her current position on the continent. Last year the MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMA) named her the Best Female Act In Africa. Has that changed? No.
Working with Selebobo, DJ Coublon, Masterkraft, GospelondeBeatz, and a number skilled pop music makers, points in the direction the album went.
Over the album’s 15 tracks, Yemi doesn’t coast once nor pander to our calls for ‘conscious African exportable music’ – in fact, a lot of the time she sounds like she just wants to dance and perform these songs on stage. ‘Do as I do’ and ‘Tumbum’ say it with energetic club sounds, while ‘Africa’ is the closest she comes to balladry, singing “This my African hands dem go love you, my African lips them go kiss you” over polished and guitar-blended dancehall. The standout ‘Ferrari’ even features the distinctive Highlife dance infectious guitars of DJ Coublon, backing up her nonchalant materialistic swagger. Flavour also gets in on the Highlife theme, coming through on his best verse, on the flighty ‘Kom kom’ collaboration.
Yemi also throws in some experimentation aided by the trusted musical alchemy of Selebobo. ‘Marry Me’ blends pidgin, Igbo and salsa into one ear candy that sits comfortably as any great Latino-inspired work.
Some tracks can feel overladen with production – take the escalating bleeps that crowd ‘Ego’, on which she grapples with her need for happiness and the good life. And also, ‘Dorcas’ sounds like one female cat fight that she could do without.‘Koffi Annan’ freestyle is a disservice to this LP. Psquare also fail to come alive on the House-influenced ‘Tonight’. Although, with so much verve and oomph on this album, the confident and reassuring ‘Nakupenda’ with its inspired backup vocals and drumbeat suggests that Yemi has this African dance thing under control.
This album shows one truth: Yemi Alade isn’t a far cry from the masterful-eyed woman who made “King of Queens”, but she provokes intriguing music from her influences, upping her game significantly from the last solo album with mundane love expressions and stories seemingly turned up a notch. This album isn’t what many hoped to expect from the Effyzzie Music Group woman-king, but that’s just how Africa will like it.
3-Worth Checking Out