Mr Eazi occupys a unique space in the African music industry. For the past few years, the singer-songwriter has been busy building the foundations of his music empire – EmPAWA Africa – an incubator music programme which has now morphed into a full fledged label and distribution service firm, with an aim to pave the way for other artists whilst highlighting the many possibilities that await African talent in the global market. This was enough indication that he had created something special, and it became even more evident when the careers of Joeboy, J.Derobie, WhoIsAkinn and more took off in the past year.
But while the afropop juggernaut has been busy investing in African music creatives, he hasn’t lost sight of his solo music career which has been spurring to greater heights as he continues to create what he calls “Banku music” — a twist on Afrobeats with greater influences from Ghana. Last year saw the release of successful collaborations with Major Lazer and Nicki Minaj with single “Oh My Gawd”, J Balvin’s “Lento”, which won a Latin Grammy, and “Nobody”, his link-up with DJ Neptune and #emPawa100 alum Joeboy, which was the No. 1 single of the year in Nigeria, generating over 100 million streams worldwide.
His legion of fans and followers alike have been following his every move until this moment. This year, the emPAWA boss has already released “The Don”, the boastful opening track to his latest musical offering, the 5-tracker titled ‘Something Else’. The EP is said to find Mr Eazi returning to the smoothed-out fusion of afrobeats and highlife he first developed on massive hits like “Skin Tight” and “Leg Over”. And the singer has already described the songs on the project as an intermission, or “calm before the storm,” ahead of the imminent release of his third studio LP ‘Life is Eazi, Vol.3’.
In Usual 1-Listen Review Fashion, All Reactions Are In Real-Time While The Music Plays. No Pauses, Rewinds, Fast-Forwards Or Skips.
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“The Don” was the first promotional single from ‘Something Else’ released about two weeks before the project’s arrival. The title is perfectly indicative of what’s inside–over two minutes of straight boasting and flexing as Mr Eazi welcomes listeners into his ever-expanding world. He’s made a huge splash in the music industry these past few years and he’s even bagged a Grammy before the African Giant (albeit a Latin one) but I’m not even mad at it because Mr Eazi deserves to raise his shoulders. When he sings “Man are the don and I paid my price/I’m living like I’m in paradise”, I can almost imagine him strutting into the studio with palpable confidence the day this was recorded.
Love For You
I can already tell this isn’t going to be a favourite of mine just in the song’s first few moments. Mr Eazi sings “I got love for you/and I no go fuck up” in the song’s intro, and I am already resisting the urge for a massive eye-roll but this could honestly just be my own deeply-seeded trust issues. The production is simple, shakers are nice and soft, and it’s sweet-sounding enough to play by so quickly that I almost had to do a double-take when the next song came on. It sounds like this could be the next wedding song populating millennial weddings.
Cherry featuring Xenia Manasseh
I’d been waiting to get to this song because I was excited to see Kenya’s Xenia Manasseh was featured on the number. I’d dived into her music last year during International Women’s Month and hadn’t heard any new material until now. Praise Be. I’m already loving this from the songs opening moments, the beat is so catchy and fun. Not Mr Eazi segueing to singing in Igbo, this is actually really good. Wait did he just say “Cause na you wey give me efo, spiritual efo”, no but I’ve actually died because it sounds like the kind of corny pick-up line he would say (sorry Temi). Xenia’s verse is so fun and it really elevates this song. Everyone absolutely did what they had to do, including Blaq Jerzee. I will definitely be adding this to my library.
This is also a really fun number already. It seems that Mr Eazi and Blaq Jerzee are the duo we didn’t know we needed till now. I’m not complaining because I’m doing a little dance and enjoying this a bit too much. Like I wouldn’t mind hearing this and the previous song at the function tonight, this is it. The only thing I’d say is that Mr Eazi has the corniest lines, OMG! But what more can we expect from these almost 30-plus millennials. However, this is one of the songs on the album which definitely needs a video and I’m hoping for one.
E Be Mad
I really like the strings that open this song. Very light and soothing. Okay, the beat’s dropped now. Why does this sort of remind me of dem “Skin Tight” and “Leg Over” Mr Eazi all over again? Here he goes with the corny rhymes again LOL, he’s a menace at this point, please. But these drum patterns and percussive instruments? This sounds like a bit of home. It reminds me of all these outdoor parties back in the village, everyone outside and soaking up the excitement in the air. I wish the EP was a bit longer because this just doesn’t seem like the song to end on, although its a really strong number.
For those who have paid close attention to Mr Eazi during his prolific career-run thus far, this EP represents a homecoming of sorts, a return to the familiar Banku-inspired music that has laced his earlier hits and a new evolution in his career–this is an artist who is relaxed in his kingdom. He sounds the most at ease that I’ve ever heard him, packing into the project’s 13 minutes run time something for every listener to have a selection of differing favourites.
This is an assertion of his growth so far, but not indicative of where the emPawa boss could take his artistry next. Speaking about the EP, Mr Eazi shared, “I spent the entire year working on building emPawa Africa and morphing into ‘Don Eazi’, the mogul. I almost had no time to record. This project was inspired by Kel P and Killertunes, who kept coming to meet me in Accra until I finally recorded ‘The Don”. That opened the door for me getting back in the studio.” That new-found ease is what translates on this album as we get to see the workings of an artist wearing a multitude of hats–as a tastemaker for a new generation of artists and an artist ripe for evolution.
Stream ‘Something Else’ below.
Featured image credits/MrEazi
Doing what I can to make sure the culture isn’t slept on @tamimak_