It is short-sighted to place it on the same level as M2M or Superstar and it is unnecessary pressure to put on Fireboy. At best, it is a future classic - and, for Fireboy DML, that is a fantastic achievement which should be celebrated.
Let’s get one thing absolutely clear: Fireboy DML’s Laughters, Tears and Goosebumps is a fantastic album. Even more so when you consider the fact that it is a debut album with no features. Definitely one of the best albums of the last two or so years. Since its release just over a week ago, however, the social conversation has been putting it in the league of classic debuts like Wizkid’s “Superstar” and Wande Coal’s “Mushin 2 Mo’Hits”. That, in my opinion, is making this project more than what it is and setting undue expectations for a young artiste who probably doesn’t need it. I’ll explain why.
There are three things that make “Superstar” and “Mushin 2 Mo’hits” stand out in the lineup of Nigerian debut albums and take them away from the level of LTG:
- The impact of the EME and Mo’Hits movements at the time.
- The artistry behind those albums, and
- The replay value of those albums over a long period of time
These three factors are what come together to make those projects what they are as far as classic Nigerian debuts are concerned. I’ll break them down.
The impact of the EME and Mo’Hits movements at the time
Post-Kennis Music, Mo’Hits was THAT label and Don Jazzy and D’Banj were THE duo of the time. Before Wande Coal’s “Mushin2Mohits” dropped in 2009, the label’s roster already included co-owner D’Banj, Wande Coal, Dr Sid, D’Prince and Kayswitch. The label had already released D’banj’s “No Long Thing” (2005), RunDown Funk U Up (2006) and the compilation album “Mo’Hits All Stars: Curriculum Vitae” (2007), all of which were successful projects. So you can imagine the momentum the label had before “Mushin2Mohits” was released.
Between 2009 and 2012, nobody could touch Banky W and Tunde Demuren’s EME movement. EME was launched in Nigeria in 2008 and a year later, Banky dropped his “The W Experience” album which shook up the RnB sound. That same year – 2009 – they signed Wizkid and Skales before following up with Shaydee and Niyola in 2012. They dropped the well-put-together “Empire State of Mind” album in 2012. It was in the midst of all that, in 2011, that Wizkid’s debut album dropped and naturally, it was very well received with rave reviews all over the place. Simply put, EME was the shit.
Now, while Olamide has undoubtedly been the most influential artiste of the past decade, his label YBNL is nowhere near where Mo’hits and EME were at the time “Superstar” and “Mushin2Mohits” were released. There aren’t other talented acts on the label compared to Wiz and Wande when they dropped their debuts. Also, social media and today’s consumer market mean that pound for pound, YBNL is not the most impactful label in the country at this time. And that’s okay – YBNL is still one of the biggest talent factories this industry has seen in the past decade.
The artistry behind M2M and Superstar
“[Ololufe] … was Wande Coal’s debut single, and it showcased his default setting as a melodic R&B singer. The song is still regarded as Wande’s best track. While it is still absurd that we are waiting on Wande’s second album, his shining debut is album is an influential, great, classic and transformative body of work that is the building block of our pop music in Nigeria. It is the clear blueprint, and arguably the greatest vocal pop album of our generation,” wrote former Pulse Nigeria Entertainment Editor and pop culture expert Ayomide Tayo, in this 2015 article, SIX years after the album’s release.
From the songwriting by Wande Coal and magnificent production by Don Jazzy to the arrangement, mixing and mastering of the album, everything about “Mushin2Mohits” (except the album art, perhaps) was perfect. And it wasn’t just perfect to me or the next person, it was universally perfect and effectively changed the Nigerian pop sound. That’s facts.
“Superstar” on the other hand took a different approach. Wizkid’s versatility was on full display and while it received mixed reviews initially, it has since grown into a classic. Where the songwriting and production are pretty much kept to Don Jazzy and Wande Coal on M2M, there are a couple of big name producers on Superstar and the project is tailored heavily toward commercial viability than anything else. And boy was it successful. It was the second most downloaded album on NotJustOK at the time and one of the first Nigerian albums to make it into the iTunes library. “Overall this is [a] solid debut album from WizKid. I expect this to sell well, to get WizKid a lot of shows, and to have a good number of commercial hits,” wrote Aribaba of 360Nobs, in his review of the album.
In my opinion, Fireboy DML’s LTG is even better than Superstar from an artistic standpoint – so I can understand the comparisons in that regard. The songwriting is much better, the A&R is top-notch, the production is great and the album arrangement is definitely better than that of Superstar’s. Asides the fact that Fireboy DML has zero features on the album, LTG also has more replay value, as far as I’m concerned. Still, LTG doesn’t get anywhere near M2M in terms of artistry.
The replay value of those albums over a long* period of time
On almost every throwback playlist you’ll see today, there is bound to be at least one or more songs from these albums on there. Today, both Superstar and M2M still bang as much as when they were first released. “Ololufe” is still being played at weddings and romantic affairs. “Pakurumo” is still played at house parties and concerts. That said, the operative phrase here is “over a long period of time.” LTG is not even a month old so how do we know that it will have as much replay value as Superstar or M2M? Yes, we may be bumping it over and over right now but will we be doing that in six months or six years? Exactly.
I’ll reiterate: Laughter, Tears and Goosebumps is a fantastic album. It ticks all the boxes of what should make a great album and the kid is obviously incredibly talented. But it is short-sighted to place it on the same level as M2M or Superstar and it is unnecessary pressure to put on Fireboy. At best, it is a future classic – and, for Fireboy DML, that is a fantastic achievement which should be celebrated.
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