A 1-Listen Review Of Vector’s New Album ‘Teslim’
at 16 tracks, it is a pleasant trip
at 16 tracks, it is a pleasant trip
Much like Dr. Dre’s ‘Detox,’ Vector has teased this album, generating hype for it while sating appetites with his 2016 album ‘Lafíaji,’ the 2019 EP ‘VIBES BEFORE TESLIM: The Journey To Self Discovery’ and 2020’s ‘The African Mind’ and ‘Crossroads,’ the collaborative project with Masterkraft. Unlike Dr. Dre, though, Vector has finally unlocked the album titled ‘Teslim (The Energy Still Lives in Me).’
“I thought I had an idea of what my album was going to be, then suddenly your dad passes on and you then start to understand that life is vain, you start to reevaluate the meaning of things you do,” Vector told Apple Music. “I started to reevaluate what I wanted my music to be like, what I wanted the message to carry, and how I wanted my music [to be]. I was also considering things–if life is a fleeting thing that we all can’t hold on to, how then is it easy for us to be distracted by things that we really don’t care about?”
From the 2Baba-featuring “Get Down,” “Popular,” “Follow Me Dey Go,” “King Kong” (and its remix) to the GoodGirl LA-assisted “Early Momo,” Vector has proven himself a competent rapper and artist. His punchline style has undergone refinement while still making space for occasional spats with fellow rappers, most notably M.I Abaga. ‘Teslim’ is the product of years of work, with production assistance from Major Bangz, Mr Kleb, The Beatsmith, Cracker Mallo, Egar Boi and Kel-P, among others. Let’s get into it.
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A radio presenter named BB Ray introduces us to Vector. “So Vector, with all the trials and the glows, what have you realised so far?” she asks. Vector begins to rap – about baby mama drama and haters. Love the beat, especially the cooing voice loop (is that a sample?). BB Ray comes on again, this time asking Vector to elaborate on a point. She serves glue on this track. There’s a verve in Vector’s delivery that makes this tune brilliant.
What grabs my attention immediately is Major Bangz’s hard-hitting production; it evokes celebration. This track is a letter from Vector to his daughter. “Look your grandpa left but he’s a part of me/Which is a part of you, which is part of everything you do,” he raps. A great track.
We are in Afrobeats territory. Vector is firing off warnings at his detractors, reminding them that he is inevitable. “Enemies dey tell me dem be nightmares/I just laugh/I don’t sleep that much,” he raps.
I’m getting smooth vibes as this begins. It’s a punchline fest on Vector’s verse. “When God bless you e go simple like ABC/You buy things, leave change/Dis no be APC,” he raps. The chorus of “You don’t know/You don’t know” recalls the comedic brilliance of Ghanaian taxi driver-turned-social-media-sensation Patrick Mensah. Warri disciple Erigga is his usual motivational self, choosing to inspire listeners with his success and urging them to chase their dreams.
One of the previously released tracks on the album. Nigerian music producer lays his vocals on this one, while also producing. Vector addresses dark themes like the building collapses and #EndSARS killings. Cracker Mallo’s hook drives the point of the song home with its melancholic tone.
Vector decides to handle the hook on this one. He prays to the Almighty for protection and guidance. Seyi Vibez joins in the prayer-filled session.
This one has a nice bounce to it, with the guitar chords anchoring it. Like in “Mercy,” Vector is in prayer mode while also expressing gratitude for the ease in his life. “See my old mens tryna Nipsey me/But I ain’t feel blue about this, know what I mean?/Nipsey in the sky, he never falling again,” he raps. The vocals of children enter the fray, singing the chorus alongside Vector, as the track reaches the end.
Vector records a call with Jayson Graham (I imagine) who speaks about fear and how it limits the largeness of the heart of a person.
GMK’s beat is a winner on this Rap tune. The bass is heavy, and the kicks and snares are the right sonic environment for Vector and LADIPOE both make observations about the world. From the crumbling economy to the rush for wealth, they assert that in the end, we are clowns, fooling ourselves. “Being content versus pitching your tent with the greedy/It’s all the genes,” Vector raps. LADIPOE also shows out with his punchlines: “No mentors, many many millionaires/They can’t show us the design because behind every fortune, there’s usually a crime.”
This is my first time hearing AO – MACHINE on any song. His baritone gives heft to the way he calls names of people who are big flexas. This track is just simply braggadocios raps from Vector and AO – MACHINE.
Six years ago, Vector’s “What’s That” featured on ‘Lafíaji.’ He returns with a follow-up track featuring South African rapper Nasty C. The song deviates from the upbeat tempo of the prequel (settling for a mid-tempo rhythm) but it follows the same thematic path of playfully making observations about life and women. Vector and Nasty C show great chemistry on the track, feeding off each other’s energy.
Trap vibes. Vector doesn’t waste time in stating his disinterest in longtime commitment. “You wey dey think say I’m good for your daughter, shior, me wey no good for myself,” he raps. Wande Coal buys into his message, singing, “Don’t even talk to me, I’m not the one you need/This your daughter, keep your daughter.”
On this mid-tempo love track, Vector and Afrobeat disciple Seun Kuti barely praise the women in their lives. “Somebody pray for me/she got ahold of me/Somebody daughter/Mami wota eh,” Seun Kuti sings on the chorus. Mr Kleb’s production benefits from sprinkles of Kuti’s saxophone playing.
A certified jam. Still sounds fresh as it did when it was released last year. Vector and GoodGirl LA show remarkable chemistry on this sex-tinged romantic tune. Another impressive production from Mr Kleb.
Ivorian singer Shado Chris colours the Trap-influenced tune as Vector employs impressive flows to brag about his successes. I don’t understand the words Shado Chris is singing but with the way he is flowing on the chorus, I’m sure it’s fire.
First released in April as a single, Vector and his choir deliver a soothing performance about being under the guidance of a supreme being. “You show me the way/When I am astray ay ay/When I feel lost/I learn all the way,” he sings. It is a fitting closer. For the official music video, the song is set to an Amapiano-influenced beat.
‘Teslim’ made for an enjoyable listening experience. One of the criticisms levelled upon Vector’s projects is their playlist-type feel and that they never reach their full potential. The songs on ‘Teslim’ tell a story of an artist tending his strengths and slicing off some of his weaknesses. At 16 tracks, it is a lengthy project and although it still carries that playlist aura, it is a more pleasant trip. Vector is a veteran in the game but he is yet to achieve a magnum opus. This might mean a good thing, though, as it means there is an opportunity to push himself up the ladder more. For now, ‘Teslim’ will do while we wait for his next offering.
Stream ‘Teslim’ here.
Featured image credits/NATIVE