The title Gehn Gehn as derived from its Pidgin English context suggests anticipation for something potentially exciting. Such a title for a debut is a cheeky move for an artiste anywhere but when one has been around as long as Orezi (born Allen Esegine) has and has scored as many near hits as he has on his way to superstardom, it may come across as no idle threat.
The Gehn Gehn Album lives up to its title in some ways. In others, it falls prey to the usual Nigerian album failings; explosive beats, average song writing, uninspired arrangement and an undisciplined length. However when one is willing to forgive that this is after all said and done, a debut album by an artiste struggling for a piece of the pop market after some time in music industry purgatory, what Orezi presents on The Gehn Gehn Album isn’t half bad.
It opens with Asiko. You know the song. That mandatory cut where the artiste goes down memory lane and replays their struggles while namechecking the hands that guided them along the way. For some reason, upcoming and established acts have all agreed that this one track on their album makes them appear humble and more relatable. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. All we ask is that it sounds good and is presented well. This one passes the test. Nothing to get all excited about but it is definitely a decent album opener.
By the second song, Maserati, the album explodes to an all-time high. Producer Kiddominant who works on at least 9 of the album’s 20 songs proves to be the MVP of the project. The red hot chemistry he shares with Orezi is infectious and both hit makers power a potentially senseless song about unaffordable cars and fan boy sexual fantasies into a truly pleasurable experience. Such is the Fuji inspired goodness that Orezi even escapes with questionable lines such as; Annie Macaulay where is the kpoli/cos 2Baba don say nobody holy.
This chemistry while at its peak is reminiscent of D’Tunes’ work with Sean Tizzle on the former’s debut album. It hits troubled waters on the slower motivational speak of Double your hustle– sounding faintly like Dammy Krane’s Spellz produced Amin- but bounces back literally with the dancehall bump and grind of How long. Ogede (with Wizkid and Timaya) and Yagolona find themselves somewhere in the middle; neither hot nor cold.
Other beat makers like Popito, Mystro and Dapiano make significant contributions. Popito in particular is the engineer behind two of Orezi’s biggest hits, Shuperu (with Davido) and the opportunistic spring bounce of Shoki. Flavour and MI have made music magic before but their reunion here on the rather pedestrian Big something cannot summon up the fire that made Number one from MI’s sophomore set an instant classic.
Orezi slows things down long enough to remind long term fans of his R&B bona fides on Selfie and Sweet yarinya but goes straight back to the heavy thumping sound carefully curated to brow beat his audience into submission. On this mission, he succeeds with the francophone baiting Baby abeg and the repetitive, gyrating chant of the Dr’Amir produced Under the blanket.
By the disc’s final arc, the fillers begin to pile on, most of them indistinguishable from the other but Orezi manages to end things on a positive note with Zarokome.
The Gehn gehn album does not quite dazzle with its high end quality of material but the selection of tracks; splashy, glossy and attention grabbing serves a purpose. The debut announces the arrival of a hit making talent and forces a seat at the table for Alhaji Orezi. It also helps that the songs are for the most part easy listening fare. Maybe he will get better with time. Maybe he won’t. But for now this will have to do.
- Wilfred Okiche (@DrWill20)