2face Idibia’s Ascension album reviewed by former TV personality and host of Nigeria’s first ever music video countdown, Emmanuel Ugolee. Read after the cut..
I was going to take my time and digest “The Ascension” but then the news that the 2 week (or so) old album had broken an African billboard record would not let me. I was in a mad hurry to see what content had pulled that feat.
Just before I took to dissecting, I cautioned myself about:
a) Comparing the album to the prevalent sound of buzzing music today since I had immense disregard for the yardstick of its acceptance (melody and lyrics alike) and …
b) Making comparison with the “face 2 face” album as every great act gets to deal with the curse of an early great outing in his career. Micheal Jackson chased “Thriller” with every effort till he died. He never touched it for many, if not all of us. Seems same for 9ice, Snoop Doggy Dog, Asa, Bobby Brown, MajekFasheketc
So the basis for judgment fair and square had to be : How much of the man we love, could i feel in this album? Did he “fall” the proverbial hand? Would I find home grown and universal appeal worthy of Africa’s biggest act of this generation? Can I relate to the sense or nonsense he made? Would I be proud to be a fan when I am done?
Now that my head was clear on the basis for a standard analysis, it was time to press play on track 1
1) Go ftMachelMontano : Trying to stay still without rhythmically moving body parts to this song is sheer punishment. Your classic party jam which I think was a strategically smart move to appeal to the critical under 25 audience. Typical plot of a girl in the club pulling all the attention by doing her thing. He also communicated in a language they know so well eg “blow my mind, way you whine, carry go”. Glad though that he observed the limits, leaving Hennessey, Ferrari and Versace alone.
Then next to Patoranking, can’t wait to hear a Machel Montano album. Awesome delivery on this track he served. Great blend with 2face. Generally, a good feel good song.
2) #Aproko : I’ve noticed 2face’s music is influenced by romantic love, governance, human inter-relationships and his personal experiences. #aproko is a clear mix of the last two.
For years, I have known Dr Sid to be mild tempered but the only time I’ve seen the beast in him awaken was because of twitter. Someone had the nerve to tell a man hurt over his dad’s demise to “stop ranting and give us hits joor”. Like Peter Okoye, 2face got the same medium used to have his family disrespected. Banky’s head has had countless trending hash tags. Can you imagine how that must hurt?
Well the agony is felt in #aproko. Strong words unveil the disgust 2face feels in his stomach about the trend. Describing the pitiable, backwardfocused, idle state of the cyber bully as unworthy of sleepless nights. He however urges victims to dust shoulders and ignore them because they are just words that shouldn’t get to them, even when the words kiss their a**es. Great lesson for all but a celebrities favorite you can bet.
This message is served with a warlike sound from Leriq. Not a song for all but on point with content.
3) Holiday! A second feel good song with a little extra ginger. David Guetta and Calvin Harris were the names to pop into my head as I followed the changing drum sequence. The message reminds you of Will Smith’s ‘Welcome to Miami’. No stress, no work, no worries. Just have fun. This song would effortlessly slide into any house music DJ’s mix. While the clubs @ okoko would gladly skip this song, this is heaven for the table top dancing, PiccoloMondo, Caliente going, Ajebur kids and all their action replicating wannabe’s.
My advice sha is to constantly check your account balance as you swipe your card listening to this song because of its power to inspire flow of Shayo. A good attempt to cater for house music’s loving global fans
4) Can’t hear you ftVector : Turn up sound for the youngsters. Close your eyes to the beat and you’ll see YMCM and YBNL. Now music that be bumping with today’s hippies.The kind of sound that extends his life span with the Y generation.Nicely produced.
Lyrically, he was just letting personal stuff off his chest. I didn’t work too hard to connect but I wasn’t sure I could say the same for the average listener because you had to be in his shoes to relate to the pain of having someone always trying to famz with irrelevant topics even when you are just trying to have a good time. Sounds like he gets that a lot in the club. Only money talk would not be bother at that time he says. Vector flawlessly drove the point home with a memorable rhyme scheme and trademark clarity only wished he sounded more personal along the line of 2face’s expression. He sounded like the beat was sent to him to voice in a different studio armed only with the topic.
5) The best I can be ft iceberg slim and Rock steady : This sound made me want to do two miles an hour in a convertible with everyone who has ever put me in undue stress without a clue of my personal struggle, watching me roll. Vintage 2face, still on that “I am not perfect, I can only be me, I no send you, I no holy pass” tip. He stresses also on his realness chopping some kpanla aka okporoko and didn’t forget to talk about a failing government. Too many messages for one song if you ask me.
Iceberg slim slayed his verse even though he had a forth element of flossing added to it. “Do me like masturbation’ is not only unoriginal but tired. Rappers should please leave that line alone. Outside that one line, Iceberg was remarkable. Rock steady stuck more to the theme but disappointingly with what was clearly a freestyle verse. If he wrote that, then he should loose his hyperteck jersey. Overall, it was cool
6) Let somebody love you ft Bridget Kelly: 32yrs and above please. Just skip if you started appreciating music from the Terry G, Limpopo era. 90’s R&B reborn. Wow! It was refreshing and definitely international stuff right there.
Oh Bridget my dear Bridget. Thank you. All I got to say to you for the quality of the blessing you put on this track. Voice control and texture, lyrics, delivery. Thank you. Bridge, I hope they explained to you what it meant to let somebody. “Take You”? No be to take you out o! If you let that happen with Innocent, there’s only one possible outcome o! Juorkwaajuju o.
2face didn’t fall short at all on all parameters on this superbly produced sound.
7) Kiss of Life: Ok the lover boy is let loose. Brilliant writing.The mature audience still having a ball on this track. Kiss of life is that movie soundtrack that forces you to reach for your partners hand in the cinema. This song would touch you if you’ve ever had difficulty express love to a crush. Great way with words, lovely midtempo melody. I loved it
8) Hate what you do to me. My favorite song on the album for the following reasons. I haven’t heard any song so romantically constructed with such ruthless depth and creativity in the last 10years. Sweet Jesus, this boy outdid himself this time. Then the hook was of the hook. Simple and Sweet. Please tell me that was Carlos Santana on those strings that were pushing me to the brink of sheer madness. No man or woman who has loved an imperfect person can resist feeling this song. “When you are not here there is peace and then, dam! I wanna share it (the peace) with you.” The irony in this song is tangible. Heavenly production. Sure winner.
9) Confessions ft Rock steady and DammyKrane : Ok someone call 2face back to 2014. Now he takes us to the Caribbean’s and Jamaica when Chaka Dimus and Pliers reigned. The best for me was the hook. Don’t think this was the best song to use to show what Dammy could do. Rock Steady was more at home here but clearly now needs a ghost writer. His strength is with his awesome voice and melodic delivery.
I enjoyed the memory lane jogg and I am sure many would.
10) Close to where you are: I would have made this a bonus track. Not very striking with the cords of interest it hits. He is however outstanding with the use of words to paint a picture. “Its like no tracks under a train” he goes. Guess 2face has finally settled the issues about his writing contributions to plantation boys. Outside that, the song was just there
11) International loving ftAlmarcha : Clearly for the east African market and the francophone countries but might favorably compete with the dim dimgbamgbam sound in Naija. Personally this was the only song I didn’t give a second listen to for the sake of its alien feel to my ears but I am sure lovers of French creole would think me mad. Almarcha rode the beat pretty well.
Track 12(BouleyBouleyftShurwayme) and Track 13 (Diaspora Woman ftFallyIpupa) I would gladly put in the same basket as 11 with the non Nigerian appeal but its got proper production for whom it may concern. Sorry, we gotta deal with it, he is no longer a local star. His market demands this and I am proud of how at home he is with the music. Fally on point as usual
Track 14) JeJe : Ehen, where ma shrine regulars at? Super Afro beat undying sound. This had to be Egypt 80.
Are they still making that movie on Fela? Somebody give them a chance to have the coolest non Fela soundtrack. Diverse dude, this 2face guy. Appropriately, spat all the way in pidginEnglish. The harmonies were rendered by true professionals; they sank and got mixed perfectly with the instruments. As regards the content? 2face again reminding us how much better it is to do your thing and let others do theirs. Maintain your lane jeje.Jeje did it for me.
15) LessePasseft Sir Victor Uwaifo. Ok under 38years of age, please sit down abeg. This one is stuck with the brand of highlife around in the 70’s. The funk and groove that tries to make it escape to our new era of high life were arrested by the masterfully played guitar of Sir Uwaifo. You just had to remember the music of yesteryears. While popsie may wave his head to Wizboy, this would awaken his spirit.
16) Ife Dinmaft Tony One week. Jolly party jam that did Tony more good. Proof that he still in form. For 2baba, don’t think the impact would be as strong outside the East and South/South of Nigeria. And yea! A song you can “shokie” to. The upbeat tempo and attempt to cut the vocal cord would require full party mode to enjoy.
17) Not a surprise: An extended skit designed to remind us that 2baba’s core constituency is reggea, ragga, dance hall and all. Feels like that “let’s jubilate” filler. “The Album is done.” This is no sarcasm. The song is actually 2mins 38sec long so….
In general, with the Ascension, I was impressed by the fact that he retained his identity. “There are still 7thousand that didn’t bow down to Baal”. Thank you 2face for not jumping on the band wagon with the urge to make sales by going with thetimes. Thank you for making content a primary point of focus in making this album. Thank you for exploiting the power of music beyond pleasure for a few months after which comes the irreversible glide to oblivion. No wonder at below 40, you are almost 20years old in a business where many have lasted for 8months
Great attempt to have something for everybody but beware of the Jack of all trades.
With no fear or favor I would give the Ascension 3 and a half stars of 5.XXXx
My name is Emmanuel Ugolee.