Praiz made us wait for his debut album and when it came it came in a double dose- The Rich and Famous albums. An alumnus of the MTN sponsored reality show, Praiz is blessed with the kind of broad stroked baritone that could give John Legend a run for his money.
His career evolution has been interesting to watch, sometimes he wants to belt out the blues unhindered, just like Mr Legend. On other times, he has to make money for his record label X3M music. The double disc is a direct result of this contradiction. Where ample opportunity for Praiz to accommodate his muse and money at the same time.
The Famous album is the money maker of the duo. The one that houses the songs that will keep him on radio, get him invited to end of year concerts and keep his name out there. It is populated with big names like Awilo Longomba, Wizkid and Chidinma. It is the pop record.
And who says pop records have to be bad? This one isn’t. At least not in the train wreck nothing-good-can-come-out-of way it could have been. It opens with Wizkid (who else?); light of touch, deft of feet and sweet of tongue. Short. Sharp. Sugary.
Patoranking adds edge to the disc on Harder, a thumping sonic ride that doesn’t make much sense but both voices blend well. Also not making much sense is Iyanya on Pere and Awilo Longomba on Oshe. But while Harder and Pere pass muster thanks to committed work from everyone involved, Awilo’s Oshe is dead on arrival, overly concerned with its hybrid crossover potential.
Mercy has Praiz showing he can attempt the uptempo feel good tunes without losing all of his credibility. He joins the worst of them to shout Sampulu but he redeems himself by taking the rest of the material as seriously as he would the high quality stuff.
The love song Afurum gi na anya delivered in both English and Igbo is an oldie but a goodie that highlights the best of Praiz on any given day even though it is the only song that doesn’t quite fit into the collection that is assembled on Famous.
Jalabia and snapbacks is a rap opera that assembles Iceberg Slim and Skales among others to do battle on a jaunty, playful beat supplied by Praiz himself. Physical something with Sound Sultan and Bez offers something of a throwback sound that worms its way in eventually.
Praiz tests his hand with some production work on this record and while these self-produced songs constitute some of the disc’s weakest parts (Oshe, Sweet potato), they also hint at a multi-talented artiste with the potential to get better with time and practice.
Famous is far from satisfying and offers too much excesses to be taken more seriously but it is a pleasurable pop record.
– Wilfred Okiche (@DrWill20)