Our First Impressions Of Blaqbonez’ New Album, ‘Young Preacher’
Featuring Lojay, Amaarae, Tay Iwar + more
Featuring Lojay, Amaarae, Tay Iwar + more
In the Nigerian music ecosystem, Blaqbonez occupies a coveted position. Toeing the same lines created by M.I Abaga, one of Africa’s finest rappers, Blaqbonez has managed to find a balance between critical acclaim and commercial success. The Nigerian music scene is currently pop-dominated, and one of the genres that have been relegated to the background is Hip-Hop, once a great musical export from our earliest musical history. Nowadays, some Nigerian rappers have found a way to get a piece of the national pie: by fashioning radio-friendly rap songs. It is in that space that artists like Blaqbonez have built a home.
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Earlier in the year, Blaqbonez hosted an anti-love crusade titled ‘Breaking The Yoke of Love’ to support the debut LP. For months now, he has teased the release of his sophomore album ‘Young Preacher,’ and has backed this up with many different forms of promotion. Earlier this month, Blaqbonez got the world talking with the official music video for “Back in Uni,” the lead single off his forthcoming sophomore album ‘Young Preacher.’
The “Back in Uni” video, which serves as Blaqbonez’s debut as a video director, was born after his funny exchange with renowned Nigerian music video director and cinematographer TG Omori. Teaming up with Abdulrasaq Babalola, Blaqbonez recreated snapshots from music videos of popular Nigerian artists—Ayra Starr, Ruger, BNXN and Oxlade, among others. The video, which has three million views, exhibited Blaqbonez’s nascent talent as a director and raised anticipation for ‘Young Preacher.’
Now that Blaq has the attention of listeners, his most recent LP ‘Young Preacher’ arrives today. In our typical fashion, we share our thoughts on the album, from best song to stand out production, biggest potential hit, biggest skip and more. Tap in.
Emmanuel: There are two kinds of Blaqbonez on this album: one is the Drake-influenced spitter, a chronicler of late night emotions and wild moments. The other is more pop-oriented, moving by the ebbs of what’s happening in the mainstream. I find out that on this album, the former carries its story more wholesomely. “I’D BE WAITING” this happens to be my favourite now, combining lived-in honesty with Blaq’s effortless swag as a rapper. Cue in the Asa sample and you have a wonderful closer, quite easily the most important song on the project.
Dennis: For now, I’ll go with “Whistle”. I really like Lojay’s hook, and I think it’s a summation of what Blaqbonez is trying to achieve with this album: Hedonism backed by cynicism. It’s not exactly “Bling”, but I can see the appeal as a colourful pop-rap song.
Moore: It’s hard to pick just one song, but I’d have to say the opening track, “Young Preacher”. The song has an undeniably 90s influence that brings up a pleasant sense of nostalgia. The backing vocals along with the instrumentals give the song a spiritual quality that suits the name of the song, and makes this a strong opening for the album.
Wonu: The most distinct production on this album for me will be the interlude, “She Like Igbo.” I’ve said this countless times, Ozedikus is a genius. His production will always standout and shine whether it’s in an interlude or not. The record fuses sounds from the ‘90’s and blends in such a way that allows Blaqbonez to slide over the production with his bars.
Uzoma: It’s the shortest track on the album but I love what Ozedikus did on “SHE LIKE IGBO [INTERLUDE].” For me, the production stirs nostalgia. I think it’s a blend of both modern and 90s sounds. The beat builds up slowly and by the time it reaches a crescendo, all the instruments—from the drums to the saxophone—come alive. And the saxophone solo is excellent.
Uzoma: Lojay’s hook on “WHISTLE” is one of the best guest performances on ‘Young Preacher.’ I like the way he wraps his vocals around the production and gets you bobbing your head to the song. On “RING RING,” I love Tay Iwar’s deft flow; he continuously shows that he can feel at home on any track with any artist.
Emmanuel: You go into a song with Lojay, you know he’s bringing out an arsenal of sleek writing. He’s admittedly the best feature on the project, delivering a hook that has all the qualities of a classic. I was positively impressed by Tay Iwar’s verse on “RING RING” as well, where he efficiently folded his soulful vocals into the Trap direction of the record. It’s a fine example of an artist stretching themselves, and Mr. Iwar has been seldom found lacking when he gets on features.
Moore: It’s pretty hard to have both Amaarae and Lojay feature on a song and not choose it, so I definitely have to say “Whistle” has the best guest verse. Amaarae’s ethereal voice and Lojay’s smooth vocals contribute to this feel good track, elevating it to be a truly memorable listening experience.
Dennis: None right now, which isn’t necessarily a good thing because I’m not all in on this album yet. But considering how much better I thought of ‘Sex > Love’ over the following months, the trend points at positive approval.
Moore: The biggest skip for me will definitely have to be “Loyalty”. After so many high energy songs, this song feels like a bit of a slump. It’s also too many things at once to make for a comfortable listening experience. It’s far too low key to be played at a party, but too intense to be listened to in a more laid back setting. While not a bad song by any means, it’s the one I’m least likely to replay.
Daniel: None at the moment.
Wonu: The biggest potential hit will most likely be “Whistle” with Lojay and Amaarae, the way Lojay opens this record and positions his voice on this beat is everything. The collaboration is one I certainly did not see coming but I’m impressed by. Amaarae also holds down the track with her sultry vocals and allows herself to shine regardless. Blaqbonez ties the whole song together as he delivers a melodic rap verse in between. This particular track is most certainly going to be spun by many different people.
Daniel:‘WHISTLE has the biggest chance of being a straight hit. Lojay has shown time and time again that he won’t come on a feature to take the back sit. On ’ Lojay took center stage on the hook of the track giving it a soothing rhythm. Amaarae had a good showing out on the track. Blending this with Blaq flows, ultimately this track has the potential to be the standout hit.
Nwanneamaka: Huge fan of Amaarae so maybe there’s some bias but I’d have to say “Whistle”. Lojay leading the track draws your attention immediately and is accompanied by Blaqbonez’ sick flow. I’m anticipating Amaarae’s mellifluous vocals though and they certainly surpass my expectations. Her verse is a standout on the track.
Dennis: I’ve been ambiguous about almost every Blaqbonez project I’ve ever heard on first listen. It’s the same with ‘Young Preacher’, but it’s not because the music isn’t good. In fact, I’m going out to say this album is better than last year’s debut LP, but I’m one of those people who believe Blaqbonez is hiding some depth behind the veneer of being young, successful and sex-crazed. And I’m not talking about bleeding introspection or mazy themes, it’s more about nuance and specifics in how he presents and explores his chosen themes. The one thing that’s sure is I will run this album back again, because the music sounds good – and maybe I’ll take Blaq as he wants to be accepted.
Nwanneamaka: I’ve never really been a listener of Blaqbonez with the exception of his one song with Amaarae and Buju, “Bling” and some other tracks off ‘Sex Over Love’ but with this new album my perceptions of the artist are taking another direction. On a first listen, I was pleasantly surprised by a number of tracks like “Whistle” and “Star Life” with its subtle amapiano infusions. I’m sure I’d have more favourites as time passes.
Emmanuel: The ever-rising profile of Blaqbonez has been inspiring to watch. In his ambition for pop success, he’s pulled all the stops, from dropping conceptual projects to planning out elaborate roll-out plans and concerts, and on ‘Young Preacher’ he just stops and takes it all in. It’s a well-crafted project, featuring some great highs which cumulates in that powerful closer. The album does sound like a grower though, and it’ll be interesting to observe which songs really pick on from here. As a continuation of Blaq’s hedonistic, story-laced direction, no doubt it’s a success, with even more cohesion than its predecessor.
Featured Image Credits/The NATIVE