a few days shy of scheduled date, Gold, Adekunle Gold’s debut album, was not
billed to become the surprise it became.
it on the need to be (in) the news, break internet, initiate trends (especially
via hashtags) but these surprises are a pop culture trick we know too well.
Bottom line: the album is out and, as far as I know, it has percolated deep
into Nigeria, as far as Esie, Kwara state.
has been a slow year for music albums but folks at YBNL continue to reinforce
their street credibility with their soldier-ant work ethic. Closely following
Lil Kesh’s debut, YAGI, is Adekunle Gold’s self-titled long play album, a 14-track-album
with a short intro and a bonus track.
production credits from Seyikeyz on two songs— ‘My life’ & ‘Nurse Alabere’—and
the intro; Oscar on four songs; B Banks, Sleekamo and Masterkraft on a song
each and Pheelz producing a whooping six songs, Gold is established a YBNL
Gold is no longer new to our music scape; he came to us by way of a cover of
One Direction’s ‘Story of my life’. Although not his first, it became his song
that broke the barriers of obscurity and set him on the path of greatness with
a YBNL record deal. Sade, immortalized in Adekunle Gold’s discography as a
bonus track, is a solemn epistolary love ballad directed to the eponymous Sade
by a love-forlorn and presumably para-suicidal bachelor in his 30s begging for
her hand in marriage. Adekunle’s treatment of this song, in humorous Yoruba, is
partly serious but ultimately melodious with an acoustic feel that every so
often gives way to the assertive percussion that became customarily of the song’s
hook. Little wonder, the song grew into a monster hit.
has since moved away from Natialo Productions who made that hit into the
stables of Oscar Heman-Ackah, unsung genius of mid-tempo Afro-soul hits and the
producer of his second big hit, ‘Orente’, which sealed Adekunle Gold’s fate as
the spokesman of the typical upwardly male lover. ‘Orente’ is, on the one hand,
a praise song but on the other hand it also charts popular Nigerian songs and
phrases like Alobam, Girlie-O and Dorobucci. This knack for double intentions
or interpretations is consistent with the entire Gold album.
Gold album presents Adekunle as the new poster boy of affection. Yes, the album
sometimes insists on becoming a paean to breakthrough, but it also welds this
with love matters that often grapple with infidelity (in ‘Temptation’), long
distance relationships (‘No Forget’ with Simi), physical intimacy (‘Beautiful
Night’) and (‘Fight for you’). Every other song, in different ways, speaks to the
struggles of the modern African man who aspires to some measure of wealth.
Gold is deeply Yoruba. One can tell from his dress sense: a love for African
prints in his videos as well as at Red Carpets. On the cover of this album, he
sports a gold agbada to match his roman gold leaf wreath, presumably an
accessory to identify him as royalty amongst the upwardly mobile.
motivational dance song, ‘Pick Up’, his third hit, speaks to his role as the
henchman or, as the Pentecostals will say, the point of contact for those
seeking material wealth lurking within the realms of divine favour. With this
thematic concern, Adekunle Gold clearly identifies with the mood of juju music
of the austere period during Nigeria’s dictatorship. In the wake of recent
economic turmoil, this song is the elixir will need to stir us through hard
times. And besides treating serious issues with emphatic fervor, it also serves
that other important purpose of dance.
tandem with the biblical convention of faith comes the song, ‘Work’, where he
admonishes the modern man to eschew the quality of hard work as well as make
economically sound lifestyle choices. This counsel is timely. We are in the era
of the Urban Poor, being middleclass has gone from a nebulous aspiration to
becoming an eschewed lifestyle pursued beyond the limit of pragmatic choices.
Adekunle Gold merges his social change project with deep modern reflection and
his language negotiating between Pidgin English and Yoruba, Adekunle Gold’s
debut hardly strays from the confines of mid-tempo ballads situated within Highlife
and modern folklore. This requires that there is a marriage of sort between
both digital and analog techniques as acknowledged in the credits for numerous
session instrumentalists. The most accomplished of these sonic dime-pieces the
gospel-tinged is ‘My Life’. However, Adekunle Gold occasionally experiments out
of his comfort zone like he did on the song, ‘Ariwo Ko’, which borrows heavily
from Bollywood music.
‘Friend Zone’, he updates Lagbaja’s ‘Anything for Me’ with modern registers and
by the time the album spools to ‘Ready’, his fourth hit, the album approaches
its nadir. Credits must be given for the arrangement of the tracklist which
punctuates every column of new songs with an accomplished hit in the fashion of
Lil Kesh’s YAGI.
Gold, Adekunle joins the ranks of Brymo, Darey Art-Alade, BankyW, Timi Dakolo
as one of our foremost male crooners, of course, with his Yoruba lilt hugely
reminiscent of traditional music forms like Juju and Highlife.