Ghetto University, the debut album by pop singer and songwriter, Runtown (born Douglas Agu) opens with an advertised assist from US rapper and snapchat magnet, DJ Khaled on the track, Moneybag but do not be fooled. Do not be excited either, Moneybag is more gimmick than substance. DJ Khaled’s appearance is nothing more than a brief intro, a radio shout out if you will and lasts all of 19 seconds, certainly not good enough for Runtown to build a whole song around, but he does anyway.
The song that follows is as nondescript as what is on offer on the rest of this debut album. Runtown improbably compares his girl to a paper bag and proceeds to describe his weirdly unsexy crush on this moneybag look alike.
Things brighten up considerably on the next song, Let me love you produced by Maleek Berry. Runtown isn’t the most gifted vocalist but he can hold his own on a tune and he puts in some work here even though the melody is clichéd and the lyrics are wholly unremarkable. The whole pseudo highlife tilt and saxophone riff make the song at least pleasurable to the ears.
He rejigs memories with the Davido assisted monster hit, Gallardo, a progenitor of countless wannabes that have all sailed past their sell by dates. The Banger which follows next, is a collaboration with the South African beat maker who manufactures the same old beat, albeit with slight modifications for every Nigerian artiste dubious enough to achieve him. These artistes must love to sound similar though as Uhuru seems to have built a considerable clientele list in Nigeria, one that includes performers such as May D and DJ Xclusive.
Ghetto University is a striking example of how not to make a debut album as nothing on the record stands Runtown out nor distinguishes him from the rest of the young men making afro pop music. His contemporaries are Davido and Wizkid but Runtown dares not even dream of approaching those heights with uneven material like he serves up on his debut.
Instantly forgettable and distinctly unremarkable, Ghetto University is more of a collection of wannabe hit singles by an act more interested in presenting a body of work to attract endorsement deals than one hungry to stand out from the crowd of young male singers. He may have the hits now but Runtown is sure to pay for this egregious error as no one is likely to remember his name or face or voice even when the hits stop rolling out.
Everything is basic here; from production to arrangement, down to the guest features. Wizkid and Del B aim for the lowest common denominator on the reductive Bend down pause. Another duet, Lagos to Kampala fares better but still collapses under a lack of direction. Runtown pal, Phyno obliges him with a serviceable rap verse on Ima ndi anyi bu and but the Hausa baiting duo of Tuwo shinkafa and Walahi do not rise above their humble sing along beginnings.
Ghetto University is so juvenile, Runtown resorts to appropriating trap stylings for the annoying My guys and 90s R&B for the quite pleasurable Talk for me.
The problem with this instantly forgettable debut is the problem with the local music industry at large; the relentless search for big, club/radio friendly hits over proper quality music. With Ghetto University, Runtown must think that he has got the market cornered with his poor quality, low rent, shoki inspired, Igbo spewing, Hausa borrowing, rudderless mix of highlife, hip hop and traditional pop but watch these lazy and poorly thought out decisions bite him in the ass in the long run. At this rate, his place in history is all but certain to be restricted to the also ran category.
– Wilfred Okiche (@DrWill20)