A 1-Listen Review of Masterkraft’s latest EP ‘Masta Groove’
A succinct collection of Jazz-infused Amapiano tracks
A succinct collection of Jazz-infused Amapiano tracks
In the past few years, we have seen a global shift in the music industry. Producers are now stepping out from behind the boards and becoming artists in their own rights–reclaiming a long-held opinion that producers are really the ones responsible for the bulk of different music genres that exist today. Here in Nigeria, this shift has been welcomed by producers in these parts who are eager to give fans their solo offerings. Many of the most notable beatsmiths today including Rexxie, KDDO, Yinoluu, and more, have created their own solo projects, stepping out of the shadows of their contributions for other artists and fashioning their own compelling bodies of work.
Masterkraft is the latest producer to join these ranks with the release of his sophomore project ‘Masta Groove’, a 7-track compilation of jazz-infused Amapiano cuts that make a case for his growing dexterity. The project features a host of West African collaborators from Diamond Platnumz, to Flavour, Sarkodie, Vector, Seun Kuti and more, perfectly indicative of what’s inside. Over the past year, the talented beatsmith has lent his fire production to numbers such as “Hallelu” featuring Bella Shmurda and Zlatan, “Are You Sure?” featuring Zlatan and CDQ and more recently, the “Peaches (Masterkraft Remix)” featuring Omah Lay, Alpha P, and Justin Bieber. It’s clear that improving his skills is a source of pride and Masterkraft makes sure that’s he’s constantly leaving you in awe of his last effort, no matter the genre or the calibre of an artist on wax.
In usual 1-listen review fashion, all reactions are in real-time while the music plays. No pauses, rewinds, fast-forwards or skips.
I’m really loving the strings on this intro. It’s so well-plucked and beautifully strung together with Amapiano elements that it’ll have you nodding your head within moments. Masterkraft is doing something that I don’t think I’ve necessarily heard before from a producer–he’s delivering a spoken-word monologue on the beauty of Black women from their brown skin to their full lips. This is a really beautiful introduction (save for some cringey lines) that’s made more beautiful by the willingness to mesh different genres into the song’s short run-time.
This begins with a really infectious beat that will definitely have people going crazy on the dancefloor. However, it seems to be a bit of a slow burn and it’s taking a minute for the lyrics to seep into the song even though I’m already one minute into the number. Okay, I think I have to admit that no lyrics will be coming out of this number not even from Selebobo. Nice beat but not enough to get me to relisten.
Earlier this week, in a heated newsroom discussion, the team were mulling over the argument that Nigerian producers and artists were trying to own Amapiano to the detriment of South African artists who were really the genre’s pioneers. This number reminds me of that conversation, in the way that it seamlessly infuses Afropop sensibilities with distinct Amapiano elements. It’s not so much that Nigerian artists or producers are trying to own the genre and more so that any genre that makes its way around the world is sure to rub and pick up elements of the culture in the places it has come to settle. Tanzanian singer, Diamond Platnumz and Flavour certainly make this an affair by adding their own distinct flair to their verses.
I don’t know many things more memorable things than Larry Gaaga beginning a song with the lyrics, “Call me Odogwu/I no dey do ojoro/This life na YOLO”. The beat for this song is really fire and it gets better as the song builds. These drums are chef’s kiss. This is a really good song, Masterkraft came with the heat on this.
Masterkraft is really in his Amapiano bag but the project is not moving along as swiftly as I would like. There seems to be a lag by the time I’ve reached this number and dare I say, I’m already feeling all Amapiano-ed out at this point. Very nice beat though, but again with sparse lyrics that keep the attention and focus on the drubbing beat.
This is already a hilarious title so I’m sure it’ll be a memorable listen. Okay, few seconds in and we’re already receiving adlibs from none other than Wizkid. It’s provocative as they say these days. Okay, we’ve also got some horns and percussion in here from the legendary Seun Kuti, it keeps getting better with each passing moment. Lyrics such as, “Your head is not correct/Shabadushkabar”, almost sounds like a chant. This is definitely one number I’ll be revisiting.
Much as the title describes, this is a feel-good number to end the project. Here, Masterkraft and Mr Talkbox make a case for enjoying their lives without the watchful eyes of society and detractors. The lyrics are really good and relatable and the production suitable to the song’s upbeat message.
As much as the music we hear today is attributed to the hard work of artists and their collaborators, a good number of the work is done by producers and sound engineers who steer the sound and production in different dimensions. While many producers around the world are fighting for their recognition and coming out from behind the boards, now is a good time as ever for beatsmiths around the globe to crystallise their sounds through a solid body of work that gives a clear view into their genre-mashing world.
In recent years, we’ve seen many producers take the reins on their sounds and show their masterful grasp of a range of genres. On ‘Masta Groove’, producer Masterkraft isn’t here to make any bold proclamations of his musical abilities–the work already speaks for itself. With a long list of foundational hits from Wizkid’s “No Lele” to Phyno and Olamide’s “Fada Fada” to Tekno’s “Yawa” and many more, Masterkraft has proven over decades that his talent is worth its salt. It’s the security from these earlier hits that carries him through to his sophomore project ‘Masta Groove’ where he simply tries his hand at one of the hottest genres coming out of Africa at the moment. This is a new chapter in Afropop history.
Stream ‘Masta Groove’ below.
Featured image credits/Masterkraft