The Shuffle: Let Klever Jay’s “Koni Koni Love” take you all the way back in time

Rewind to an era rarely mentioned but unforgotten

Perhaps the greatest save for the future of Nigerian Afropop is the existence of a broad range of song types and styles to draw influences from. The mid-to-late 2000s witnessed a renaissance of Nigerian music, more attention was paid to detail and production evolved out of its shell of American hip-hop samples and debased local reworks of mainstream hits (See Maintain “Catch Cold”, Banky W’s “Ebutte Meta” et al). This was also the era of compositions so uniquely original, that due to its multiplicity of old and new influences, any genre-definition beyond ‘Afropop’  would have never sufficed. 

Out of that chaotic freeverse have come many one-hit wonders and producers alike, who rabidly turned out a slew of hits, before cashing their chips early and moving their careers to foreign lands. One unforgettable name from the lot is Klever Jay, the man that gave us  “Koni Koni Love”,  a fast paced Reggae-R’n B song about unrequited love off his 2008 debut, The Beginning.

“Koni Koni Love” works for many reasons. The single leans towards the Island Calypso Kevin Little and Rupee had popularised in the late nougties with era-defining global hits like “Turn Me On” and “Tempted To Touch” respectively. It also subtly runs a narrative of a tortured lover while maintaining a tempo clearly built for the dance-floor by default. Klever Jay features Danny Young and a largely unknown Chris Don, but the trio’s harmony could have as well been taken for a group effort.

At face value, “Koni Koni Love”  is pop music at its most mindless, a preppy attempt more or less to snag a radio hit off a relatable emotions. But it also captures an era where Nigerian producers and artists alike experimented with a wide range of ideas. The music encapsulated in this time can serve as a literal goldmine for samples and interesting reworks by younger generation of Nigerian artists who are broadening the soundscape to accommodate more fringe patterns and alternative genres.

Listen to Klever Jay’s “Koni Koni Love” below

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