A strong review of Naija albums
GENRE: Hip Hop
LABEL: Mi So Fun Yin Entertainment
Year of release: 2009
9ja Stand Up! This is not just another Yoruba album; it’s an Indigenous Mainstream Hip-Hop Album. Dapo Olaonipekun’s (DaGrin) time has finally arrived after a very disappointing 2006 debut album “Still on the Matter”. With each record (2008 big hits “Efi mile” with YQ & “Idi Nla” with Lala) DaGrin featured on, he has crept closer & closer to the mainstream & has ensured that his new album should not be taken lightly. It has to be a satisfying feeling when you know your sophomore album is going to be far better than the 1st one. DaGrin has managed to link quality with a local language -Yoruba on Chief Executive Omoita.
The album opens up with the bluesy, bass looped banger, “Ghetto Dreams” which features Sossick with a nice hook. The Kid on the streets (Omoita) mixes his Music dreams with those in the Ghetto, reminiscing on his past –poverty, hardship, struggles and his future dreams. His lyrics are so sick (No pun intended) that you can’t help but love this track – Aimoye igba ti awon eyan ni ki lo give up/ Won ni mo local, pe o no mi o’nse hip-hop/ But mo wa determined, mo de wa focus/ T’orie ni oruko mi se spread bi staphylococcus [translation: How many times have people told me to give up/They say I’m local, dat I’m not hip-hop/But I was determined and focused/Becos of this, my name has spread like staphylococcus]. “Everyday” featuring little known Ejay follows the similar rags 2 riches theme with a smooth soulful looped beat from Sossick; DaGrin talks more on his everyday struggles, hussles & determination metaphorically and with crazy word-plays all spun in Yoruba – Everyday ni mo’n ji/ everyday ni mo sun [translation: I wake up everyday/ I sleep everyday]
DaGrin takes us to the streets on the Club Banger “Pon Pon Pon”. With jacked beats from Tony Yayo’s “So Seductive” (or is it 50’s “I Get Money”), DaGrin violently destroys the beats as if he’s freestylin’ in the hood (Omo 9ja ni mi/9ja lo bi mi si/9ja ni mo ti bere si ni ka ABC) with his slick Yoruba wordplay, punch-lines and immense hunger to get your feet over psyched to dance. On this track, you start to get a sense of why he named his album CE “Omoita”.
Track Alert “Kondo”. Common, people say this with me –Mummy mi o si ni le/ Daddy mi o si ni le/ Egbon mi o si ni le/ Emi ni kan mo wa ni le/ Wa gba kondo, kondo, kondo/ Wa wo commando, mando, mando. A track not obviously for Radios puts DaGrin in his comfort zone, spitting over a sick, raunchy sex-fueled beat courtesy of Sarz. DJs will definitely spin this track a lot in 2009. It’s one of my favorite tracks off the album.
On “Swag (File)”, you can almost feel DaGrin grinning before dropping the line – E mi ni Kabeyesi [translation: I’m da king] over the very average Sossick Crunk beats. He then flows with so much swagger on the track along with the “Owo ati Swagga” Cartiair (he wasn’t listed on the album credits). This track falls below the standards of the other tracks heard so far. “Make Doe” ft Dark Poet & Sossick also has a very average Crunk beat, yet the more I hear this track, the more I like it. DaGrin’s witty rhymes keep you in check from pressing the skip button. He drops his hottest lines on this track – Emi ni da best sugbon e fe funmi ni crown/ Kilo kan eneti ati gbe ni iyawo pelu gown/ E dahun, your flow is so fake like a clown/ Let me teach u how we get down we run dis town/ Mo fresh and aint lookin real stressed/ Mo da bi omo tuntun tan she bi look at me YES/ Igbo, shayo, ashewo dis is how we livin ole pa mi layo/ Missofunyin entertainment emi ni CEO / Mi o like olopa mi shere pelu DPO. Dark Poet’s verse is also on point – A standout track from the album.
“Igboro” ft Isolate (9ice’s style jacker or is it the other way round???) shows a lot of potential and again you get to understand why DaGrin calls himself an Omoita, his bars are hard as nails and gives females the nervy feeling that you don’t want to be alone in the alley with this cat. “What they Want” is very disappointing and has a jacked beat from 50 Cent’s Wanksta.
“Hola Hola” ft Tfrizzle sounds very chiwalla-ish (Slum Dog Millionaire, duh!) and is produced by Tfrizzle as well. It’s a hot track and DaGrin transforms this joint to a track for the Clubs & Radio DJs. Omawunmi & DaGrin sweetly “Thank God” for bringing them from grass 2 grace and the beats is done by the 1 & only Dr Frabs. Another winner here as Omawunmi belts the chorus like she’s doing a West African Idol show while DaGrin continues where he left off dropping more punch-lines – Buying a razor-blade (NGN10.00) with a NGN1,000.00 note & not collecting his change. The lyrical content on this track is outstanding.
With the diverse variety of production (Sossick, SAS, Tfrizzle & Dr Frabs), DaGrin’s Yoruba lyrics is well supported to allow each track fuse together transparently into one big story book of the CEO. Da Grin obviously gets his inspiration from the G Unit Camp (jacking beats, from 50’s Wanksta & Yayo’s So Seductive) and his style also sound like 50’s. Well every Great in History needed to be influenced by another Great (hmm. I wonder who influenced the 1st Great, Guinness?) DaGrin shows a hunger similar to when 50 Cent was a thirsty up and coming artist. He even jacks 50’s line on the end of “Swag” – switch ur style up/…watch the money pile up. No one can deny the similarities between DaGrin and this Hip-Hop Icon which hopefully should cement his status as a true emcee & not just another street credible rapper jacking beats, lines & styles.
Outstanding Tracks: Kondo, Pon Pon Pon, Thank God, Make Doe, Hola Hola, Ghetto Dreams
Disappointing Tracks: What They Want, Swag (File), Iwofa
VOCAL DROPS Rating System
OPINION (Personal): 7/10
SKIP FACTOR: 7/10
THE VERDICT: 7.1/10
Known for grinning before dropping bars, DaGrin has cemented the fact that you can rap in a local language and still be a dope MC by pushing the standards up a knot beyond those already set by his predecessors – Zaaki, 2Shotz, Big Lo & Lord of Ajasa. Many may argue that 9ice did it way before him but trust me; while 9ice’s songs are proverbial and way too deep, DaGrin’s are phenomenal and has “Street Credibility”.
One thing I like about this album is that although it’s targeted for Hip-Hop heads, it still manages to crossover to mainstream …the Yoruba Nation will love it & those who can’t understand a single word will still fux with it. All the tracks have blazing hooks/choruses which are a blessing and in my books, the right recipe to get non-Hiphop heads to listen to your songs. No one can take Dat Grin off DaGrin’s face for now
This album MAKES THE iPOD.