1-listen Review: Zlatan’s sophomore LP, ‘Resan’
his best project yet
his best project yet
Zlatan elbowed his way into visibility. On Chinko Ekun’s seminal 2018 smash hit, “Able God,” the rapper, then going by the moniker Zlatan Ibile, absolutely detonated, turning out a rhythmically engrossing verse that instantly endeared him to the Nigerian pop/rap mainstream. Along with viral single “Leg Work” and a similar scene-stealing performance on “Killin’ Dem” with Burna Boy, Zlatan was anointed one of the leading figures in the latest renaissance of street-bred music in Nigerian pop music.
While the novelty of his dominance has worn off, Zlatan remains as surefooted as ever, thanks to a consistent run of hits as a headlining artist (“Quilox” “Lagos Anthem”) and keen collaborator (“WTOD” “Cash App”). As a reliable as he is when it comes to turning out big singles, Zlatan is something of the cliché Afropop hit-maker who has a difficult time turning in beloved projects. His debut album, ‘Zanku’, is uneven and hasn’t aged too well, while last year’s ‘RoadToCDK’ EP was only impressive in small bits. At that, I’m hopeful for Zlatan’s newly released sophomore LP, ‘Resan’, albeit cautiously. Let’s hear what the man has curated.
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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 Skip.
This sounds triumphant already, like a typical track two from a rap album. “Many people don try, many people don fail/I no want be that guy” as the crux of a Zlatan song is very on-brand. I like the gospel flourishes on this production, but I don’t like it as a choice for the first song. That second verse is captivating to an extent, this bridge and hook could take some time to grow on me. Zlatan referencing the law of gravity is a bit interesting to me, LOL. He’s a learned man, and the moves he’s continued to make prove that he’s smart. He’s also a prayerful man, it seems. I don’t know about this one, especially as an intro.
The single I heard only once, partly because it didn’t do much for me. Steph has something of a consistent sound, very folk-pop but also dynamic in feel. This is one of the least memorable hooks I’ve from Buju, his voice is still intoxicating but the melody and words are somewhat stock. Zlatan raps with something of blitzkrieg edge, but thankfully he’s found ways to retool his flow as each song’s vibe fits. Ehh, this hook really isn’t hitting. “Sapa o le te e l’orun,” you don’t say, fam. There’s a story between that line on this song, Adekunle’s Gold’s “High” and Olamide’s “Rock.” Anyway, this will be a definite skip for me.
I need this album to give me some excitement really soon, abeg. This is very groovy, has that owambe vibe. “All the money wey dey the bank, I give am to you.” Yoruba men lie a lot, LOL. I can understand the sentiment sha, but this song is just not giving what it’s supposed to give. This sounds like the sort of love song Olamide would squeeze into his rugged and sprawling albums in the mid-2010s. You know what? I might be wrong, this is growing on me. I can’t remember the tag from the beginning, but whoever produced this brought a really good beat. The Olamide influence is leaking out of this song. I don’t know, man. Might revisit.
I like this, sounds sinister and darkly alluring. Ehhh! That drop didn’t do it. Fuck, it could’ve been harder. I get that it’s a love song, but still. It’s picking up steam, but these lyrics are anything but grabbing. Even this flow is rigid, very little about this song is enjoyable, I’m sorry. When he revs into the double-time flow, it gets a bit better. A bit. Ms. Banks showing out! Yes, turn this shit out. That’s the most excited I’ve been while listening to this album.
Konto will never die! Let’s go, street-pop 1.0! Rexxie’s range >>>>. “I don dey ball like Roger Miller/lyricially, I’m a killer” is the best lyric line from Zlatan on this album, so far. Well, maybe it’s because he sounds engaged and enlivened by this beat. I knew this beat would fit Bella without any hassle, he sounds really good. FAM, the nostalgia is rushing out of this song like a broken faucet. Daddy Showkey and Danfo Drivers would be impressed. Is Zlatan a hopeless romantic? I need to investigate. I need this to be a hit song for December, we have enough mid-tempo pop smashes and Amapiano-infused hits, this would diversify the playing field. I really like this. Rexxie came with that heatrock!
These are some dramatic strings. Zlatan is always so excited, like a toddler with a perpetual supply of candy. Storytelling Zlatan, I wish he’d do this more, even if his perspective can be sometimes jarring for me. This a Nollywood storyline, a former stripper turned church-going lady for the sake of finding a husband. I can swear there are dozens of Nollywood films with this as the plot. I’m actually laughing, LMFAO. I can appreciate the detailed approach, but it’s all so funny to me. She stopped doing chores after y’all married? Wow, my condolences. This is just funny to me. Definitely not interested in coming back, partly because songs proselytising about marriage aren’t for me.
I can tell this beat won’t impress me. There are only like three producers that can really do the Amapiano-infused Nigerian pop thing, I personally don’t think Willis is one of them. Anyway, Zlatan is running this beat for all the juice it has, but what he’s saying isn’t appealing to me. I get it, you want me to have fun, but it doesn’t seem like you’re having fun while rapping all of this. Man, I miss Rahman Jago being a visible fixture in pop culture, that man always gave us great memes. With enough push, this might do well as a single. It seems anthemic enough.
Five more songs? Yikes. Spellz tag, I’m up. This is actually invigorating, Zlatan is talking that hustle talk with the level of vim I like from him. This song is going to go, the beat has banger qualities. Davido! His vocals could’ve been mixed better, but he’s eating. I like that melody switch, solid feature. My head is swinging from side to side, Zlatan is in his bag. This flow on the second verse is actually infectious. “Ever since I don come, lamba in my mouth,” talk your shit, sir. This is Zlatan at his best, just careening through a groovy beat. Keeper.
This is Niphkeys. Yeah, called it. The log drums have the same character as Zinoleesky’s “Kilofeshe.” I like that Zlatan is an advocate for hustling and enjoying life at the same time, it makes him a compelling character in stretches. Oh shit, I’ve heard this song involuntarily at a few places. This was a single? I know why it’s gotten popular, that hook is raunchy and the streets love raunchy. I like the melodic touches. This song is a targeted hit, it’s just not hitting me.
This should be a god-tier link-up. P.Priime is doing Igbo Highlife-inspired beats, too? Is that anything that young man can’t do? Zlatan is a romantic at heart, it’s clear to me. Yoruba men and Igbo women combination is a much fawned-over match-up on social media, even though it’s a quite trickier in real life. That guitar is fire. Phyno De Coke! I want a “Fada Fada”-level banger from Phyno soon. There’s so many good things happening on this beat. Flavour will not be performing at my wedding if I ever get married, the man has a woman-stealing voice and aura. BTW, “Levels” is one of the greatest songs I’ve heard in my life. This is a solid collaboration. Might be an outright keeper on a few revisits.
A Zlatan song titled “Energy” with Sho Madjozi on it? Yeah, inject it. Of course, he’s mentioning Ghanaian and South African women when it comes to massive derrieres. I won’t take the Nigerian women slander, though. Vanny boy! I like the tone of his voice. Thinking about it now, he has shared Zlatan’s issue with making tepid projects even though he’s a serial hit-maker. This beat is an adequate slapper. Sho Madjozi can do very little wrong on this type of beat, she’s running this one with that infectious charisma. This is a banger, actually. P.Priime might be a generational talent.
Final song. Thank you, God. LOL. If there’s one thing Zlatan never slacks on, it’s ad-libs. I really like this beat. We’re getting romantic Zlatan again, further confirming my theory. Wait, this might be the best love-themed song on this album. The uncertainty of falling for someone can be grinding, Zlatan is somehow making it sound exciting. This is a really good song, ending the album on a relative high. In fact, this entire second half has been pretty good.
‘Resan’ might be Zlatan’s best project yet, which is saying both a lot and not much. As much as it is an improvement from his previous solo projects, there are still familiar pitfalls. On his sophomore LP, Zlatan leans into the tricks we’ve come to expect from him—agile flows with a melodic slant, captionable bars, pop-oriented songwriting, and groovy beats. The result is an album that isn’t evenly rewarding to listen to, partly because the manic energy he often channels on his biggest and best songs doesn’t carry over into focused body of work.
The improvements here are incremental—’Resan’ is a lot shorter than ’Zanku’, which helps, and the collaborations work better than on his previous projects. It also consolidates on the hustle-mentality and party-starting ethos we’ve come to know Zlatan for, while emboldening the softer side of his persona through several romance-themed cuts. ’Resan’ is not exactly a unified statement of all those things, neither is it wholly engrossing. What it is, is an album with its split of peaks, valleys, and in-between; an apt representation for a hit-maker who’s always in a groove, but also an artist still figuring out the best ways to consistently employ the weapons in his arsenal.
Listen to ’Resan‘ here.