There was a time everyone’s favourite waist grinder, Flavour was slumming it in the underground scene in Enugu state and environs, playing local night clubs and reaching for attention by singing songs made of raunch and sex and debauchery. His discography consisted of titles like, Pant no n’iro N’abania and Ashawo.
Those days are far behind him.
He hasn’t seen them since he made a remix of Nwa baby (Ashawo mix), the single that catapulted him to national prominence. Who said swinging hips, bulging pecs and a whole new attitude weren’t enough to create a star.
He persevered and followed up in 2012 with his third, but first truly crossover album. Blessed spawned hit single after hit single after hit single and even though it was overlooked for most credible industry awards, quickly became one of the biggest records in pop music in recent times.
Naturally, a lot of interest would accompany the follow up.
Now a national star, maybe even continental, with carefully cultivated locks, choice endorsement deals, lighter skin and a body to put most men to shame, it wouldn’t be out of place to expect that his new album, Thankful would present his fans with many more reasons to be grateful.
It seems instead that Blessed was a creative peak for Flavour and the output on Thankful, even though lengthier than the former, cannot summon the same thrill that Blessed dished out effortlessly.
The problems with Thankful begin with the tepid lead singles. Wake up with Wande Coal is needlessly noisy and swings wildly between Flavour’s uncouth hollering and Wande Coal’s migraine inducing wails while making almost no sense in between. The follow up single, Golibe should be more sensible, but at it its heart, it is just a calculated ploy to recreate the magic and success of last year’s Ada Ada. Even the video suggests such a recapturing of heights previously attained.
The record comes to a peak when M.I and Phyno come together to record Wiser, a soulful lamentation of love’s betrayal. Flavour totally owns the singing and posts a touching account of a man who has been hurt by love but is determined to learn his lessons from the experience. Phyno is in top form and delivers a zippy verse that is brilliant in its simplicity. The song could have done just fine without MI’s seemingly extraneous verse but where he doesn’t add something special, he doesn’t ruin it either.
At 21 tracks (19 songs and 2 skits), the joy of Thankful lies in the first half. The songs aren’t exactly hard hitting and most are in need of professional lyric doctoring but you’d be hard pressed to argue with their feel good factor.
The album opens in church with the ode to Father Ejike Mbaka’s Adoration ministry style recordings and continues through crowd favourites like Orinado, Sexy rosey and Ololufe (with chanteuse Chidinma). They are essentially call to dance numbers that repeat a winning formula from his earlier work. They don’t stand out but they are adequate material for a lesser body of work. His themes are limited to girls with big butts, getting busy on the dance floor and finding the love of his life while at it.
The experience begins to sour by the second half of the disc when Flavour runs out of ideas and begins to recycle already recycled material and no amount of kirikata or ikworikwo can save the slide into dismal ordinariness. Nwanyi mbaise is an epic fail, so is the Selebobo assisted turkey, Mmege. Ditto the improbably named Inasoki and the ill-advised Uru dia, an unnecessary rehash of Blessed’s unavoidable waist roller, Shake.
The ragga-lite Special one reminds us that Flavour can hit decent notes should the inclination come upon him but that is about it from the rest of the disc. Nothing else makes much sense and anyone would be forgiven for going right back to the beginning, and not venturing past the first half.
The traditional instruments and pseudo highlife will reel you in but the lazy delivery and thoughtless arrangement are sure to put off even the most hard core fans. Thankful is an album from a successful artiste who has lost plenty of his hunger and with his slumming days far behind him, fancies himself too big to bother.
Which begs the question, If the artiste cannot be genuinely bothered about the creative process that goes into his record, why not just skip the album idea and keep the singles coming?
– Wilfred Okiche