The Shuffle: “Bachelor’s Life” exemplifies the timelessness of 9ice’s ‘Gongo Aso’

Featuring Reminisce, XP and Six O

In 2007, 9ice wasn’t an unknown commodity. In addition to his indelible feature on Ruggedman’s seminal Nigerian rap smash, “Ruggedy Baba,” the Lagos-raised singer and songwriter dropped his debut album, Certificate’, to mild reception, even spawning multiple cult classic hits like “Little Money” and “Ganja Man.” While he was recognisable to keen listeners, at the time, he wasn’t quite popular to the wider audience to validate that stardom. Part of that is because he came up in an era where artist couldn’t skip steps on their way to widespread notoriety.

In hindsight, that first LP was a forecast of what was to come, a raw and vibrant mash-up of Yoruba Folk adages, Fuji-indented melodies, and vivid Hip-Hop influences, all held together by that guttural voice that squeezed out the elemental feelings and memories behind his stimulating writing. Building on these artistic axioms, 9ice fully arrived the following year with ‘Gongo Aso’, an album that stunned Nigerian music and all of Afropop with its overall ingenuity, merging aspirational grit, folksy soulfulness, measured bravado, and a booming sonic canvas.

Fourteen years later, calling Gongo Aso’ a classic album feels like an undersell. 9ice, greatly assisted by main producer ID Cabasa, delivered one of the most essential, and one of the greatest records in the history of Nigerian music. To the latter point, greatness is usually attached to impact, and only a handful of albums are on the same scale of impact as 9ice’s sophomore. Led off by its titanic title track, nearly every other song off Gongo Aso’ became hugely popular—“every other track became a single,” Osagie Alonge had once said while discussing the album on his podcast, ‘A Music in Time’.

While the album is largely dedicated to being a musician confident in his powers and a young man getting set to live out his glory, 9ice focuses more on the romance-fuelled stuff on the album’s second act. The Spanish guitar-flavoured “Wedding Day” remains a staple at many nuptial ceremonies, and “Kasa Final” is thinly veiled in its raunchy aggressiveness but you could make a case for it as an ode to unbridled attraction within the confines of a monogamous relationship. Where there’s real tension in that one skit and 3-song run is “Bachelor’s Life,” a brash celebration of being emotionally non-committal, where the only commitment 9ice and his trio of collaborators devote themselves is to consistent carnal pleasure.

Handling just song’s the chorus, over rippling guitar chords and jazzy percussion with a folk twist, 9ice sets a mischievous tone, chanting “I’m a bachelor” eight times each at the beginning, in between three verses, and at the end. That line is sung with a knowing smirk, as a justification for blatantly prioritising hedonistic thrills over connections with depth, so much so that when he proclaims, “all the girls wey dey for my area/ ni mo n ba s’ere (is who I’m messing with),” you’re tempted to smirk along with him.


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Since his soulful voice makes the mischief charming, it gives his collaborators licence to be more exuberant and granular with details of their own preference for casual entanglements. Reminisce opens with a verse that pre-dates his flip into being at the vanguard of indigenous rap, slinging his Lothario boasts in a cadence that sounds very much inspired by the American rapper Ma$e. XP follows with a slightly more cinematic verse, ending with a vignette where he dismisses a potential interest intent on commitment before sex. Six O’s verse provides a solid capper, totally denouncing the idea of living a domestic life within his first eight bars.

In relation to its two preceding songs, the thematic tension “Bachelor’s Life” brought to Gongo Aso’ was evident, even more so when you consider 9ice got married shortly after. There’s a possibility he was channelling his past, hence the slightly wistful tone, but the vigour of his guests roots it in the present and makes it ever relatable to those dedicated to being in the streets. ID Cabasa even shifts the musical tone on those verses, throwing in sharply screeching piano strings, droning synths, and emphatic bass beneath those belligerent raps.

It would be disingenuous to not point out that “Bachelor’s Life” plays into the “boys will be boys” trope for its appeal, especially in a society that holds women to a higher standard. At the same time, though, it’s an indicator that situationships and other forms of casual relationships aren’t limited to recent times, where the complexities of two people getting together is more pronounced than ever. That’s more points for the timelessness of Gongo Aso’, that 9ice made a song, well over a decade ago, that could easily serve as a soundtrack for a modern-day reality show like ‘Too Hot to Handle’, or even more immediate, the dating scene in a mythically promiscuous city like Lagos.

Listen to “Bachelor’s Life” here.