Rapper Falz pulled a Beyonce in the twilight months (October) of 2017 when he dropped his third album on an unsuspecting audience. The title 27, named for his present age, though, recalled British songstress and vanquisher of Beyonce for the Album of the Year Grammy, Adele in spirit. The top selling, award hogging Adele is in the habit of naming her albums by her age at time of recording.
Produced by Falz regular collaborator, Sess the Problem Kid with occasional support from Maleek Berry and Studio Magic, 27 is one of those safe records that artistes make while they are at that sweet spot when they are still basking in the glory of superstardom, yet unsure of what direction to go next.
If there is anything surprising about 27 beyond the suddenness of its release, it is that for a Falz record, especially coming after 2015’s excellent Stories that Touch, album number three is quite square and unable to thrill.
This thrill factor and willingness to explore as many themes and musical styles as possible is strangely absent here, replaced instead by a familiar reliance on afropop music tropes. Looking back, this was predicted by the precursor singles Jeje and Bahd Badoo Baddest that accompanied 27’s release. Only the humor laced Something Light with a light-on-his-feet Ycee seemed to hint of truly exciting moments.
Hit single, La Fete is memorable for the delivery of its catchy chorus in a mixture of French and English but the Demsa produced finished product stays comfortably within pop circles. There is more French to be encountered on the bearable bad boy anthem, Le Vrai Bahd Guy.
The genuinely bright spots on the record are generated by the guest stars.
Burna Boy never came across a beat he couldn’t murk up and he proceeds to seize control of the narrative on Alright. Wande Coal brings his saccharine sweet vocals to the ready to dance Way, a mini-blast that continues in the tradition of Mr Coal’s Iskaba.
Sir Dauda gives a good account of himself on the two tracks he is featured in. The deliberate clunky nature of Boogie does not stand out instantly, but it settles quite well into the record’s lazy pace eventually. Confirm is saved from its basic advice column material by Sir Dauda’s confident vocal delivery. My Money is Rihanna’s Bitch Better Have My Money meets Aramide’s Funmi Lowo set to a low key trap beat.
When he gets into the consciousness spirit, Falz cannot quite stop himself from going over the top with the preaching and Child of the World represents the messiness of these tendencies. On the record’s longest running track (4:29), Falz narrates a story of sexual abuse and repercussions for actions taken.
27 isn’t all heavy stuff though.
There are plenty of playful moments, perhaps too many of them as Falz switches easily between his regular self and his Brother Taju comedian alter ego. There is the mandatory Fela pseudo cover on the Juls produced Get Me, and the light hearted dance take, The Lambo Song.
With 27, Falz has for the first time in his album releasing career begun to show signs of lethargy. He may still be able to deliver the goods, especially when the industry wide bar has been reduced to the barest minimum, but the album is a steep decline from his last. Monotonous and unadorned with artifice, 27 is fair enough to pass muster, but far from the best work Falz could have made at this point in his career.
Album Name: 27
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