EME – Empire Mates State of Mind …Naija Listening E.A.R. (Essential Album Review)

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A strong review of Naija albums
GENRE: R n B/Pop

LABEL: Empire Mates Entertainment
Year of release: 2012

The first compilation album from the uber-successful guys at the Empire Mates Entertainment label has just one intention really- to get the party started, and boy, do they succeed heavily.

And why not; there is Banky W, there is Wizkid, and there is Skales who between the three of them boasts an impressive bag of clubby radio-heavy hits. Then add to this heady mix, soulful newcomer Shaydee, gifted singer Niyola and party starter DJ Xclusive; the party tempo is pretty much raised to a whole new level.

This project may be a team effort in name but it is Wizkid’s show in more ways than one. Consciously and otherwise, he is identified as the MVP of the team and is handed most of the heavy lifting and not for a moment does he falter under this weight.

He bursts out of the starting blocks, faster than a speeding bullet on the album’s testosterone fuelled lead single – ‘Baddest boy’ and doesn’t let up ever. He goes on to lift generic songs like ‘Get down tonight’ and ‘Body’ with his infectious charm before clocking a peak with the solo number ‘Roll it’. When the song starts and he teases with the words fire dancer, it becomes obvious that we are listening to a superstar at the peak of his game. Banky W is somewhere on the track but he needn’t have bothered; there’s really no room for anyone else. Wizzy is tasked with even more solos (more than anyone else) and moulds ‘Dance with me’ to suit his persona.

Wizkid’s Dance For Me video

‘London girl’ has a heard-it-before dancehall beat that has been sampled by everyone from Brick n Lace (Love is wicked) to Tiwa Savage (Without my heart) but he pulls it off and injects a tinge of freshness that makes the song sound anew.

Of course there is still room for improvement; more of the auto tune still has to go and he could try singing his lines more often as opposed to the lazy breezing through that he feels most comfortable in. But truth be told, when he does it this good, it’s hard to complain.

Poor Skales! Truly talented (he raps and sings); he just seems to have the hardest time breaking out of Wizkid’s shadow. He gets his shine time in ‘Ko mo le’, a Sarz produced number that treads softly on the similar path of his earlier hit ‘Mukulu’. ‘My baby’ goes down smoothly and has him seducing the ladies both in English and Hausa. Niyola threatens to upstage him in the duet, ‘Wetin I want’ as she delivers her lines in sweet syrupy Yoruba but he rebounds strongly. It does suffice to say that possessing talent and delivering are not mutually exclusive. In many ways, he is just not the performer that Wizkid is.

Niyola as the lone female on board is handed the Tiwa Savage treatment and given only one solo – ‘Don’t go there’ as consolation, which is disappointing as she is a truly efficient vocalist. Her confident delivery is one of the album’s highlights but apart from the earlier mentioned duet with Skales, she is mostly relegated to filling out the blanks.

Shaydee proves he is quite the chameleon with the way he blends in with every performer and adapts suitably to their style but he doesn’t get a spotlight to establish his own presence and we have no strong clue as to who he really is …perhaps with time

Banky W wisely steps back and lets the young ones do the entire fist pumping and chest-thumping but whenever the album’s tempo slows down, then he can be found. Nobody does silky smooth R&B quite like him and songs like ‘Follow go house’ and ‘Only you’ are trademark Mr Capable, but like the ultra-cool elder brother everyone wishes they had, he shares his spotlight generously.

The three principals unite on the drab, hear us roar ‘Reppin’ emeazzyy’ but things look up when they accommodate Shaydee and Niyola on the more defining ‘Can’t stop us’ as well as the conscious ‘Change’, an anthem obviously inspired by the #OccupyNigeria protests.

The hard hitting hip hop beats may become repetitive at some point despite the variety of producers involved (Legendary beats, Mastercraft, Cobhams, Spellz, Shizzy & Kid Konnect), and the record may come across as lightweight, plus you might eventually get sore from all the getting down low required of you but it is unabashed in owning up to its motives.

Outstanding tracks: Roll it, Don’t go there, Dance for me, My baby, Follow go house
Disappointing tracks: Get down tonight, Reppin EMEAZZYYY, Sun mo mi, Find my trouble

VOCAL DROPS Rating System
OPINION (Personal): 7/10
LYRICS: 6/10
RHYTHM: 8/10

Verdict: 7.0/10
Life is a dance floor for the duration of its running time and if indeed one message is passed across soundly, it is this –

There ain’t no party like an EME party!!!

This album MAKES THE iPOD.

Enjoy some of the songs and videos off the album below:

Audio: E.M.E ft Wizkid, Skales, Banky W – Baddest Boy [audio:https://www.360nobs.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/E.M.E-Feat.-Wizkid_-Skales-amp_-Banky-W-Baddest-Boy.mp3|titles=E.M.E Feat. Wizkid_ Skales &amp_ Banky W – Baddest Boy]

Video: E.M.E ft Wizkid, Skales, Banky W – Baddest Boy

Video: E.M.E ft WizKid, Banky W. & Skales – Get Down Tonight

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Wilfred Okiche

Wilfred Okiche

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


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