A 1-Listen Review Of ODUMODUBLVCK’s New Mixtape ‘EZIOKWU’
Featuring Wale, Fireboy DML, Amaarae & more.
Featuring Wale, Fireboy DML, Amaarae & more.
There’s an art to saying things as they are, especially for rap artists where authenticity is of the utmost importance. It’s within the parameters and interpretations of technique that listeners come to decipher what makes a rapper tick, but ethos is almost always evident from the jump. In the years since he started working his way through niche, underground conversations, ODUMODUBLVCK has clearly been compelled by telling the truth, his truth—of his gritty lifestyle, of his run-ins with the Nigeria’s compromised policing and legal system, of his hunger to reach the pinnacle.
Even though his booming baritone adds a layer of embellishment to his lyrics, there’s a lived-in edge that signals that he’s more participant than witness, a man who means every word he raps and sings. In Nigerian rap, he’s kin to icons like Eedris Abdulkareem, Six Foot Plus and Erigga. In embracing a more versatile, partly-melodic approach that converses with contemporary Nigerian pop and embraces his Igbo heritage, Odumodu has emerged as one of the distinct voices in mainstream Nigerian music.
Building a core following of believers who hang on to every line (and tweet), as well as a string of veritable hit songs has driven the hype train to a feverish peak. The latest destination in the ODUMODUBLVCK chronicles is ‘EZIOKWU’, his new mixtape and major label debut (NATIVE Records/Def Jam). Expectations are high, but as he’s reiterated on social media, being a star is his destiny which indicates that the pressure of delivering great work hasn’t affected him. ‘EZIOKWU’ is no longer coming, it’s here; let’s listen to Odumodu’s truth.
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In usual 1-listen review fashion, all reactions are in real time while the music plays. No pauses, rewinds, fast-forwards or skips.
Groovy right from the jump. Recently listened to that Black Sheep project and it still holds up, but the evolution has been crazy in the years since. “I go pin am to wall if she permit me, consent” is a bar. The raunchy imagery on this song is wild, apt too because this is who ODUMODUBVCK has always been. This man is a walking R-18 film, LOL. A pretty good one at that. The harmattan in Abuja do be crazy, Nigeria’s north generally. Nice intro, I liked the melodies.
Ah yes, the global hit song. I remember thanking ODUMODUBLVCK when Arsenal left it late to smoke United. “Ekelebe Stunner!” is one of the best self-given nicks in Nigerian music, ever. The snares on this shit go absolutely crazy, Trillo created a heat rock and it’s only fitting that Mr Stunner put in a performance for the ages. These melodies are hitting like crack; not that I’ve ever tried it before. Such a banger even after hearing it a couple of times.
Ooooh, these guitars have that palmwine-highlife sauce, word to Juls and Show Dem Camp. These melodies are glistening. Log drum rimshots, nice touch. That verse went by a little too fast but this song is jamming. Amaarae is walking on water! “I’m in it for the dollar, no distraction/four bitches in the crib, all doing fractions” is such a fire couplet. I will be running back here as soon as I’m done with this. Such a slap.
I’m warmed up. Ucee tag, I’m awake. This is gangsta Nigerian R&B, if you ask me. For its title, it’s fitting that he’s hitting the falsetto. Mhm the verse hasn’t sunk in for me yet but will revisit. Okay, I liked that coda but I’m happy to be back at the hook. It’s so good. New subgenre: R&Odumodu. LOL. This is too short but it’s a bop.
Of course, the man known as Big Kala will have a song with shoot in its title on his project. Ha! Some gruff singing, none of that soft shit. Haha! I like this already. The Igbo folk elements are giving this drill beat a very Nigerian/African texture and colour. I want to hear Aguero Banks on a remix of this in the future. This man goes straight to the point, that’s the centre of this song. Every bar is blunt! Another verse? That’s a surprise on this tape so far, not complaining, though. Is Odumodu a defunct member of Migos? All these references to his mother, haha. There’s force on this song, nice change of pace even though I liked the melody-driving approach to the previous songs. Keeper for me, this one.
The two leaders of the Rap renaissance. I like that this doesn’t seem like a bar off. That would’ve been nice but both Blvck and Blaq have expanded their approach to great success so far. This is a great song to play in the car on the way to a lit night out. I’ve heard this melodic flow before from Blaqbonez but I can’t call it hackneyed. I wish I was hearing some gripping lines from him, though. This hook sneaks on you very quickly, man. I like this and it may grow on me.
Oh yeah, the widely talked about single(for obvious reasons). I can’t lie, this beat is nuts. That’s its defining factor–hats off to the chef. I’m sure ODUMODUBLVCK knows he has presence, it’s in the way he manipulates the pockets, never overwhelming but always in control. There are bars here but it’s not for me.
Okay, we’re definitely on the dancefloor. This is the song with the most intriguing title on ‘EZIOKWU’, and I’m so hyped for the features. ODUMODUBLVCK is setting the tone with these well-honed melodies, putting some sway in my shoulders. I like this flow on the verse. “Odumodu fala folo, decipher konji” is such a perfect line. Bloody! This woman is so talented, she sounds so effortless in this. Quick cameo before Wale swings in with some swagger. I like these appearances. Ooof, the harmonies between Blvck and Bloody are hitting! That’s the highlight of this song, wish it came in much earlier. Keeper!
Another single. A little surprised this didn’t tear up the charts even more, very viral-ready jam. Perhaps a top 5 Fireboy DML feature, he’s in between that loverboy we know and the playboy he wants to be. ODUMODUBLVCK being vocal on consent is huge deal, considering how much of his music is hinged on bravado and machismo. Not a personal favourite but there’s a reason it has over two million views on YouTube. It slaps on those night outs.
This that Anti World Gangstars shit! Let’s go! “Their papa no get OT/I’ve been on the road since OPC” is a quotable! If you know, you know. Talk to them! This verse is nuclear-level shit, and we get some Reeplay action, too? Talk to me! I’m so hype. Reminder that Reeplay’s ‘The Jig is Over’ is one of the hardest rap albums this year. Is that state of emergency line an intentional reference to the Nollywood classic? Oh fuck! Saint Obi was in that film. Absolute classic. One of the greatest Nigerian action films, if you ask me. Boooooo! Why is this song so short? FFS.
These drums don’t have the earth-shaking punch I want to hear! Fuck! I’m not particularly into this mix. I think that ODUMODUBLVCK’s voice has been robbed of some of that heft. Teezee rapping with that trademark swag, you can tell there’s always Benjamin Franklins in his pockets. This is very Juicy J-inspired, you know that song. YP always raps like rapping should be fun, even when he’s posturing. It’s a huge gift. This is probably the easiest hook ODUMODUBLVCK has written and performed in recent years.
I remember listening to the OG version of this song and my eyes were widened for like half the song. Ucee deserves all the best things in life for this beat, it’s the apex vision of Okporoko Music if you ask me. If aliens ask me to introduce them to ODUMODUBLVCK, this is what I’m playing, partly so that they can immediately be enthralled by Santino too, LOL. I love that there’s no need to decipher any Santi line, he’s more audible than he’s been in year. Bella smoked this, too. This is one of those rare cases where the remix is as good, if not better than, the original.
This album has flown by. Ucee tag again, this man is definer of ODUMODUBLVCK’s more melodic side. “Praise to the Lord/Tochukwu go meet up/he was born to be meet up” is a signifier of ultimately self-believe. I can hear a flute synth droning gorgeously underneath. Man, I really like this song. Never been to Enugu but I feel like I’m there. This is a heat rock, a deep cut but definitely a standout for me.
The song that got things going, still such a slapper! “You go contact” is one of those funny-not-so-funny quips in PH pidgin. Imagine someone telling you for the first time, “You go contact,” you’d probably have your heart in your mouth while trying to choke on a chuckle. Shout-out Zlatan for this look, he definitely didn’t phone in his verse. He met ODUMODUBLVCK at his gangster level, which isn’t novel but he doesn’t go that route very often. Officially, Odumodu’s falsetto is officially one of the wonders in Nigerian music.
ODUMODUBLVCK came prepared, that much is evident on ‘EZIOKWU’. The rapper’s latest mixtape is a no frills exercise with album-level execution, no second is wasted and a statement of embracing stardom has been made. For the familiar, none of it is surprising. In addition to being as real as possible, there’s been an aspirational overtone to ODUMODUBLVCK’s music, a readiness to always level up. Part of that is what pushed him to incorporate melodies into his creative process and it’s not just helped him become more dynamic, it’s vaulted him into breakout territory.
‘EZIOKWU’ is a proper encapsulation of what it means to believe in your own sauce, beyond the sake of hubris. He’s worked hard and smart to get to this point, and he’s relishing the spoils of success with an invigorated edge. The raps pound the earth and the melodies waft to the skies; the music is vibrant and varied, and the features are roundly brilliant. Most importantly, ODUMODUBLVCK is in total control while toggling his voice between aggressive rapper and melody bender. Talk about a man who can do both. In its assuredness, ‘EZIOKWU’ is a show of musical excellence.
Stream ‘EZIOKWU’ below.
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