iLLBLiSS, rapper, talent scout, head honcho, manager, husband and proud Igbo boy returns for another merry go round with his third studio album, #Powerful. iLLBLiSS, born Tobechukwu Melvin Ejiofor may be best known as the plus size rapper behind such banging hits as Aye po gan and Anamachikwanu but he shows on this record that he is a full human being and addresses the other facets to his life.
A proper indigenous rapper who ran the streets- and the charts-, long before the likes of Olamide and Reminisce knew how to secure record deals, iLLBLiSS evolved into a competent manager and administrator with his leadership of the Goretti Company which partnered with Clarence Peters’ Capital Hill to form an artiste management/recording company. It was Winston Churchill who uttered the lasting words, ‘’History will be kind to me for I intend to write it’’ and iLLBLiSS is taking advantage of the platform of his third studio album to begin to contemplate and document his legacy for future purposes.
All the introspection and setting records straight is all well and good but iLLBLiSS has been around long enough to know that for the project to have any chance at the cutthroat Nigerian market, it must first of all be aurally pleasing. And utterly danceable. With this in mind, Oga boss recruits two of the biggest hit magnets to do help him reach the youngsters; Olamide on the Yung D produced WTF remix and Legendary Beatz’ sole submission, Many men.
Both tracks are different yet both are the same. On the former, Olamide phones in a gimmicky verse that is instantly forgettable. It doesn’t matter though, his presence is really all that is needed. On the latter, an unusually generous Wizkid disappoints folks expecting a 50cent style gritty urban tale but the song is sure to remain on the playlists of deejays just for the Starboy’s presence alone. On both singles, as on almost every other song on the album, iLLBLiSS maintains a quality to his energy and wordplay that is not commonly seen on album projects anymore. The man knows how to craft crowd pleasers but he also knows how to situate them in the context of a thematic sound.
Like the title suggests, iLLBLiSS is aware of his career progression and on the title track, set to a not so subtle rehash of the classic Emi ni baller beat, iLLBLiSS reels out his achievements, evident mostly in the stellar roster of artistes whose career he has had a hand in. He claims responsibility for Phyno, Chidinma, Tha Suspect among others and the entire Capital Nation (Chidinma, Peteru, Mz Kiss and Fefe) comes together for the team building Finally (Adekunle), a scattershot mix of unlikely bed mates. It is desperately inferior to the tight compact familiarity of Emi ni baller but even at his weakest, iLLBLiSS still manages to do decent work.
Themes of unity, family and love are also present on #Powerful and iLLBLiSS isn’t afraid to show off his emotional side. On the cheesy and initially off putting L.OV.E Y.O.U, (with Kcee and his horrid Limpopo dance,) iLLBLiSS goes for simple but powerful declarations like, I made it from dark to the light/ I love you coz you taught me fight. iLLBLiSS may be boss of the Hill but every king needs his queen, so the previously released Idiche, highlighted by the haunting melodies of Mike Aremu is essentially a love letter to his wife that comes straight from the heart.
As an Igbo man, iLLBLiSS is also all about the money and gigantic anthems like Bank alert (with the remix) and Chukwu agozigo gi hearken to the aspirations of every human being who ever hustled for daily bread. On the celebratory Young n balling, he even declares himself the rap version of Tony Elumelu. He allows for some reflection on Looking back and on these songs, he favours simple but evocative story telling techniques over unnecessary bursts of flashy wordplay.
Different kind of war was maybe the best rap song recorded in 2015. The unforgettable opening lines still pack a wallop almost one year after. Another bomb just went off we’re numb to this/The president is looking clueless we’re used to this. The rest of the song points fingers and does not relent for the next 3 minutes, demanding instant sober reflection.
#Powerful is exactly what the title suggests, a punchy piece of work that makes a case for iLLBLiSS as one of the best of his time. He has some understanding of the concept of the album and is careful to attach his name to only work that is of a certain quality. He may be given to episodes of empty braggadocio (as per popular hip hop dictates,) but as an artiste and human being, the material on #Powerful is proof that he has done some growing up.
— Wilfred Okiche (@DrWill20)