We promise the name D’banj will not appear anywhere (again) in the course of this album review. Everyone and their mother is aware of how the whole Mo’Hits saga played out and it would definitely serve no purpose rehashing the whole drama here. Besides Don Jazzy and his Mavin crew, having individually paid their dues as recording artistes, deserve the right to be afforded a fair listen- absent all the drama and the side taking.
So it follows that with the launch of the newest record label in town, the companion ensemble, ‘Solar plexus’ was put out and has quickly become one of the most talked about records in recent times. But beyond all the hype and all the nay-saying, how does the record stack up?
There’s good news and there’s bad. ‘Solar plexus’ is not as terrible as its detractors would want you to believe, but don’t get all hot and bothered just yet, it is also not as good as it’s proponents think it is. Here’s why;
The fierce album art, alongside Don Jazzy’s previous production pedigree set us up for a massive tour de force but the anthemic first single, the all-star ‘I’m a mavin’ quickly shatters such misbegotten expectations. While it is a mandatory album starter and must have looked good on paper, it fails completely as the song that defines them as a team. Sure the jubilant horns and lavish beats are brilliant, the problem sets in when someone opens their mouth to sing- and it happens way too soon. While the rest of the posse can be forgiven for their weak delivery, it is hard to let Wande Coal, the most gifted singer of the lot off the hook. He finds it difficult to rise above the bland material and fails to shine where he should have done so effortlessly. They sing lines like ‘When we step out to the street there’s an ovation/we always ready so we rise to the occasion’. Well, if it helps them sleep better, fine but no one rose to this occasion.
The trouble with Wande continues on “see mi ri’’ the first of his three solo offerings. It is a dreadful pseudo-high life number that has Mr Coal whining like a second rate Duncan Mighty about real and perceived enemies. By this time, those who have been waiting for him to step up and lead the charge after all these years of playing second fiddle to he-who-must-not-be-named must be exasperated. We want to hear the Wande Coal of ‘Mushin to Mo’Hits’ and not that of ‘private trips’.
That Wande briefly surfaces in ‘Forever’, a scorching number that sees him laying some impressive vocal sprints on top of the keyboards and synthesizers which the producer employs to superb results. By the end of the song, when the don cameos with his gravel-coated adlibs, we are transported briefly to those good old times.
But nothing lasts forever and the album continually struggles to hit this plateau. D’Prince squanders a decent, thumping beat on ‘why you over there’, a misfire that the ladies should take particular offence at. They should however be prepared to accommodate his ‘take banana’ as the combination of irresistible, hard-hitting beat, puerile lyrics and a simple repetitive chant makes it destined for club banger status. None can stop this one.
Dr Sid tries for his own club banger with ‘YOLO’ and while it definitely has all the components, thing is we’ve heard the better version on D’ Prince’s throbbing ‘Give it to me’ from two years back. He then attempts to go the euro dance route on ‘CPR’, a song that sounds like it belongs on a Britney Spears dance record. He possesses neither vocal prowess nor technical advantage to pull it off and it falls flat but still, for daring to venture out of his comfort zone, he gets a C+ for effort.
And Tiwa Savage? In her solo entry, ‘Oma ga’ she doesn’t so much sing as she zips through the lyrics. We meet her as she chides a straying cad and put him in his place. With the airy, flutey intro, synthetic beat and lines like toh ba ti ri mi won shiver/Omo Savage oh diva, it is the grittiest song she’s ever done and she delivers it with relish, turning up the razzin her . It does not quite compare to her solid trifecta of radio hits but it gets the job done.
‘Solar plexus’ comes across as a vanity project for Don Jazzy to prove he’s still got it after all that happened and unfortunately everyone else is relegated to second place. His beats and production values are never found wanting, easily the brightest parts of the project but they keep getting in the way of his star performers who appear to have left their A-game at home.
There’s something to be said for talent and hard work, a good beat alone never made a song great. As an all-out unabashed dance record, it works in many parts but we already know Don Jazzy is capable of making a fierce dance record. We kind of expected more.
The female voice on the intro defines mavin as a person exceptionally skilled in any field, a person with special knowledge or ability who performs skillfully; synonymous with hot shot, superstar, sensation, genius, champion. After 11 tracks of highs and lows, brief crescents and dismal plateaus, only one question comes to mind and it is this, where are the mavins?
Wilfred Okiche is a movie buff and music head. He is still waiting for that one record that will change his life and remains ever optimistic. You can follow him on Twitter @drwill20