The guitar heavy body of work is a welcome change from the usual layered, bass-heavy production that Nigerians are used to.
For what seems like years now, Nigerians have been complaining about the quality of music being churned out by their artistes. Never mind the fact that these same Nigerians are the ones who download these ‘trashy’ songs and request them on radio.
But let’s forget about all that. Let’s focus on the fact that God has finally answered our prayers in the form of Ric Hassani‘s debut album, The African Gentleman. The guitar heavy body of work is a welcome change from the usual layered, bass-heavy production that Nigerians are used to.
Hassani begins his album with the song that brought him into limelight, ‘Gentleman’. The smooth, earthy track where Hassani shows off his pipes features a vocal snippet that sounds South African. In fact, if you didn’t know Hassani was Nigerian, you’d think he was a South African artiste as many of his tracks feature similar elements.
The singer slows things down with ‘Police’ and ‘Sing’. If acoustic music and the Alternative genre are not your thing, these tracks may be those album tracks you skip.
‘Believe’, which follows Hassani’s usual lover boy flow, brings some groove back into the album. The song’s production is very reminiscent of Adekunle Gold‘s style. However, every time you start to hear Gold’s voice, Hassani’s vocals remind you that he’s the better singer.
‘Number One’ keeps the tempo that its predecessor started, coupled with a catchy chorus that will have you humming long after the song has ended.
Hassani pulled a Western pop culture move by releasing two versions of the album. The standard version has 11 songs, while the deluxe version has 18 songs.
Are the seven songs on the deluxe worth the extra cash? Well, out of the seven songs, two of them – ‘Gentleman (Piano Acoustic)’ and ‘Only You (Piano Acoustic)’ – might not seem like such a big deal since Hassani’s music is already quite minimal in the area of production.
That leaves us with five songs, one of which, ‘Gentleman (Sigag Lauren Remix)’ is an Euro pop influenced remix.
The remaining four songs, however, will give you a bang for your buck. They all feature two artistes each, most of whom are not Nigerian. If he does choose to release it as a single, Hassani will have a hit on his hands with ‘Mama’ featuring Sonyezo and Tay Grin.
Hassani and his guest artistes are able to keep up with the pulsating tempo of the production. Sure, there are some foreign lyrics on there but in all, ‘Mama’ is one of our favorites on the album.
‘Sweet Mother’ and the Igbo influenced ‘Oge Na Ga’ featuring Cabo Snoop, Xcellente and Mr Nomsy are standout tracks on the album that deserve awards.
Hassani sounds the least like himself on ‘One, Two’ featuring Yung L and M.I Abaga. With lyrics like ‘whine for the bass line’ and ‘get down low, no dey waste time’, it would seem that our African gentleman had to channel his inner Wizkid to pull off this track, which he did.
Then ‘My Love’ featuring Johnny Drille and Tjan and ‘I Love You’ featuring C.C Johnson follow the sound that you would expect from the musician.
Hassani’s voice is the real star of this album. Every song on the album seems to have been crafted around the strengths of Hassani’s vocals, raspy but soothing.
Vocals aside, Hassani’s debut beats the love theme to a pulp. Song after song, he seems to be saying the same thing with different melodies.
While that may not necessarily be a bad thing because of his poetic lyrics and awesome pipes, it does make the album sound a bit repetitive. We love it but we would also love hearing the different phases of love. It is not always a bed of roses (‘Marry You’, ‘As Long As You Love Me’ and ‘Only You’).
In summary, Hassani’s debut is definitely a step in the right direction and we cannot wait to see all the stunning visuals that the album will churn out.
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