A strong review of Nigerian (Naija) albums
GENRE: Afro Pop
LABEL: OMA Records
Year of release: 2009
Entertainment Reality TV shows have always been instrumental in pushing artists to superstardom (eh… with a few exceptions of course: _ i _ i _ _ _ _ l _ [Hangman game for those who still play]), and these past few years have been no different. Dare perfected his musical talent on Project Fame, Gideon is a main stay in Tinsel thanks to Big Brother and Omawumi Megbele‘s dream career kicked off after becoming the 1st runner-up in Idols, West Africa.
In 2007, an unknown Omawumi mesmerized judges and viewers with her powerful vocals and spectacular stage presence (kai! Warri no dey carry last). At the end of the show, she had built up so much popularity with music fans & industry heads that we all hoped that this wouldn’t be another fish thrown back into the sea. Luckily reverse was the case as she teamed up with iconic producer Cobhams Asuquo to release her massive debut single “In The Music” which even won her 2 awards @ the 2009 Hip-Hop World Awards for ‘Best Vocal Performance (Female)’ & ‘Next rated Act’.
In November 2009, she released unto an unsuspecting world, her debut album which lived up to the hype of her Idols buzz. It was named after arguably the most popular & iconic female superhero in comics – DC’s Wonder Woman (Sexy Amazon with the Lasso of Truth, a pair of Indestructible Bracelets and an Invisible Airplane).
Wonder Woman, a 14 track album (and 3 skits) kicks off with “Starting Point”, an intro where some popular Christian choruses are sang comically by Omawumi in a Waffi accent while Ayo on the organ (6/8 beats) ‘doesn’t know when to stop playing’. The uptempo “Ma Fi Mi Sere” enters on cue with the message that it’s time for business and she isn’t here to play around. It features the don, eLDee who drops a hot verse without even breaking a sweat.
On “Today Na Today”, Omawumi hits a home-run with her ability to make her powerful voice sync with Dokta Frabz’ hard-hitting Techno beats. This smash hit should cheer you up whenever stuck in that crazy traffic on your way to work and before you know it, you’ll be humming the words
‘Even if na 9-5(na work)/Even if na work online(na work)/Even if na gala you dey sell from mornin till evenin time(na work)/Even if you be panel beater(na work)/Or even bank manager/Whatever you may be
(2day na 2day)we must 2 scatter our heads, we don’t care wot u have 2 say/Bcos d fire don dey d system
(2day na 2day) we must 2 groove all night until the break of day/ because na the naija way’
The retro sounding “Serious Love Nwantinti” is brilliant. It is my fave cut as it shows music in its purest form; her voice softens to take the lead role as the love struck Juliet singing all her emotions to her lover (ex???) Romeo Frabz over soft sounding konga drums in the back drop. It’s a timeless track and is very reminiscence of Onyeka Onwenu’s love songs.
“Love It” featuring Shank seems to float about your attention all the way to the next track. It’s the kind of track that doesn’t get skipped but doesn’t really get listened to either. The sincerity on the ballad “When Breeze Blow” leaves an emotional mark on the listener as it talks about a failed love relationship. It’s well arranged and shows off Omawumi’s Heaven-sent voice. Omawumi and Dr Frabz then pour their emotions on the smooth reggae infused “The Way That I Feel”; not really feeling this one though.
“Chocolata” featuring Super Naeto C is good-and-horrible; one man’s poison is another one’s best track. Hip-hop heads should like Naeto’s verse on it. The skit – “I Stand” doesn’t make matters any better. Thankfully the monster up-tempo kwaito hit “In The Music” produced by Cobhams Aququo kicks in; it’s your perfect feel good song and should appeal to Africans in general. The track’s 1st words help to describe music in an ideal way – ‘Music heals your body/heals your soul/It heals your spirit/It makes you whole/It heals….So get in the music’. This track is all about making music and is sure to get any party jumping. It does stand out as a defining track.
“Brighter Day” is another reggae cut which has a positive message behind it. Cobhams comes through in a big way with the funky jazzed out “I Miss My Baby”. I’m liking this track more with each listen. The mellow “As I Dey” is one of the faulty tracks I perceive on the album which fall below par of the other songs and should have been left out.
“Niger Delta 1” is exceptional and sees her angelic vocals combine nicely with Eric Arubayi who was also in the Idols West Africa show. The duo musically blow Sapele out of the water over some smoothed out Dr Frabz productions; there’s a need to bring Peace and U N I T Y in the troubled Niger-Delta region, for real.
“Same Guy” is a poor attempt at replying R Kelly & Usher‘s “Same Girl”. The trio of Omawumi, Waje & Kel fail to impress on this. Although it’s a treat to see 2 vocal powerhouses go head to head. Still can’t decide who won that battle. “Blessings Flow” is sung so beautifully and the lyrics to this are quite good. It talks about God’s love, blessings, promises for us and our bright future. An outro then draws the curtains on the album!
“Wonder Woman” is a wonderfully arranged album, complete with quality, and original production from 2 of Nigeria’s mega-producers – Dr Frabz & Cobhams (produced only “In the Music” and “I Miss My Baby”). Her style of writing & singing and Dr Frabz production share the same chemistry as their relationship (ex???)
The stylish-African-Prints-dress-wearing singer features only a handful of cameos from top Nigerian artists – Dr Frabz, eLDee tha Don, Eric Arubayi, Kel, Naeto C, Shank and Waje which helps to not overcrowd her album.
Outstanding Tracks: Serious Love Nwantinti, Today na Today, In The Music, Niger Delta 1, I Miss My Baby, Blessings Flow
Disappointing Tracks: As I Dey, The Way That I Feel, Same Guy
VOCAL DROPS Rating System
OPINION (Personal): 7/10
SKIP FACTOR: 7/10
THE VERDICT: 7.8/10
Omawumi has definitely come a long way since her early days on Idols and can now proudly submit her repertoire to the diva vacancy in 9ja’s music scene to attain mainstream success. “Wonder Woman” has a complete collection of most genres – hi-life, reggae, pop, R&B, gospel and soul etc, I was going to call the album genre confused but she calls it Afropop.
Shame her label or marketers didn’t push this album as hard as they ought to have done. It’s an album for “everyone”. Most artists mess up because they aren’t talented enough to keep the attention of the listener as they try and make a mushy/sappy love song or a club anthem. This one even has comic relief in it.
This is a brilliant debut. She did truly deserve the Next Rated Act.
No be stone na beans, one day e must done.
This album MAKES THE iPOD.
Listen to my 2 favorite cuts off the album below:
Omawumi ft Eric Arubayi - Niger Delta 1.mp3 (3.3 MiB, 5,802 hits)
Omawumi - Serious Love Nwantinti.mp3 (3.5 MiB, 6,089 hits)