God Over Everything, the long-in-the-works debut album by pop/dancehall superstar wears its heart on its sleeve. It opens with a prayer by Patoranking’s mother.
Mama ‘Ranking is asking the man above to provide for concerns like good health, success, houses and the money to acquire all of these.
If this seems a little obvious, it is perhaps because the performer who was born Patrick Nnaemeka Okorie has known deprivation and want in his earlier life.
Mama ‘Ranking’s supplications are followed by a hype man’s multiple yells of his name and a staccato burst of patois influenced rap flows. The title song is up next and quickly establishes the record’s departure from the opener.
Patoranking sing songs the story of his life with the help of generous doses of autotune and obvious heavy handed rhyming patterns. The result is soothing but both the autotune and the penchant for rhyming conspicuously make their presence felt on the rest of the record.
Some of Patoranking’s rhymes are witty and interesting enough to go down as feel good, light hearted fare, (She’s so sweet and she got a flat belly/I say can I have the number to your celly) but some betray his vocabulary limitations and fall instantly flat. I’m in love with a stammerer/And her name is Tamara as heard on the Wizzypro-flop Stammerer must be a shoo in for one of the most unimaginative lines to be recorded in recent times.
God Over Everything can be broadly classified into two major parts in terms of the subject matter. The minor part is the spiritual journey that Patoranking takes his audience through with semi-autobiographical fare like the title single and Writing on the wall. There is also a queer sample of the Latin version of the Pater Noster (Lord’s prayer) as a prelude to Stammerer.
The bulk of the record however consists of silly, harmless love songs. For all of his talk about flirting with poverty and living dangerously, Patoranking has always been a wholesome pop star in terms of material he has recorded. Tiwa Savage drew out an edgy, sexy side to him on the remix to his massive Girlie O but that was only a tease as he quickly reverted to status quo on follow up singles Make am and Another Level (which curiously failed to make the album’s final cut.)
Patoranking is after all the pop act who with No Kissing, made a pro-chastity pamphlet and turned it into a massive hit single with help from Ghana’s Sarkodie. He unabashedly announces, to the relief of worried mothers everywhere, If you no give I no go take oh. The unsubtle No cheating zone practices exactly what it preaches as Patoranking finds his sinful advances rebuffed by a love interest who refuses to give in to temptation and chooses to stay faithful to her partner.
Love Town, Hale Hale and This kind love (with Wizkid) are romantic experiments in dancehall and afrobeats. He slows things down and flexes some vocal muscle on Beautiful before taking on KWAM 1 on the masturbatory but striking Ayinde.
Patoranking isn’t the most gifted of vocalists; his voice is still in need of further training as it lacks finesse and tends to break when stretched. He accommodates a lazy contribution from Olamide on the upbeat Mama Aboyo and makes one of his own with Killing Me, a dud that sounds like it was lifted from a Kcee record.
God Over Everything is an interesting record, reflecting an unlikely choice of direction for an artiste still high on his breakout success. The usual suspects- Wizzypro, E-Kelly, Sarz – all contribute to the production but Patoranking shows little inclination to pursue the hit making tendencies that made him such a successful singles artiste.
He seems to understand the concept of the album a little better than his contemporaries and makes an effort to produce a more realised body of work. His efforts, admirable as they are, do not exactly yield the ripest of fruits.
He is on a straight and narrow path though and if this effort does not alienate audiences still perching on the fence, artistically, he’ll be better for it in the long run.