140 characters for one tweet barely gives enough space to express context and even if you proceed to explain via a string of tweets, TwitterNG finds a way to pick whatever suits their narrative or current emotion. As far as Mr Eazi’s musical trajectory is concerned, Nigeria wasn’t the first place to assimilate and accept his music. But for many Nigerian music fans, immediately he crossed the border he was supposed to become ‘ours’ considering how much love (and awards) we gave him while he saturated the airwaves with his sounds, how dare he drop overstated facts?
On first listen to his new mixtape Life is Eazi Vol. 1 – Accra to Lagos (ATL), the concept of bringing of the music of two cities together but on separate sections might seem blurry to anyone only paying attention to the Nigerian contemporary music scene. Additional listens to the mixtape album while paying attention to the details of the music arrangement improves clarity of his concept and acts as practical evidence of his (not so) controversial deleted tweet.
Ghana’s influence on present day “Naija Sound” cannot be over emphasized!!!
— Accra2Lagos 11th feb (@mreazi) January 11, 2017
A very poignant example being the differences in arrangement of instruments between two standout tracks, ‘Tilapia’ on the Accra spectrum and ‘Fight’ on the Lagos spectrum, both tracks produced by Del-B. Both cuts have staccato fashioned leading chords, the difference is in the instruments used. ‘Tilapia’ leads with the guitar while ‘Fight’ leads with the piano. Mr Eazi glides with the suggestive mid-tempo drums of ‘Tilapia’, but he has to straddle the up-tempo blown drums of ‘Fight’. Every other song on the album has its unique construction with various producers putting their spin on each song but it all comes together to mould a largely cohesive project.
Although Mr Eazi sits in his comfort zone for majority of the duration of the album, he still attempts to kick at the boundaries created by his vocal range. Case in point when he tries to belt on ‘Feelings’ to a somewhat negative outcome, Young John’s trademark drums don’t help him. But the slower tempo of ‘Business’ helps Eazi do a better job with his attempt in shorter bursts and Mugeez’ cold fire feature only makes the song shine brighter. Another feature that smacks albeit playful is Falz’ verse on ‘Detty Yasef’ which plays directly into the rapper’s comfort zone. ‘Detty Yasef’ led by a rugged piano groove dipped in plenty party stank accompanied by the “don’t save her” lyrical theme already feels like a massive hit waiting for promo. Another hit on the sidelines is the bonus track ‘Kpamurege’, with full highlife groove matched with thumping drums destined to rock bars and gatherings awash with alcohol.
As far as songwriting is concerned, Mr Eazi sticks to the usual with lyrics reeking of infatuation and relationship issues. These scenarios are painted plainly and impressively in Pidgin English and Ghanaian slanguage. But it doesn’t escape being dragged down by some bad spots most notably the masterkraft produced ‘2 People’ with the hook “My baby fine like 2 people/you are beautiful”. Even the “mirror mirror” analogy and patois delivery don’t save the song from its unfortunate ditch. Another song that falls into a similar ditch is the Tekno-assisted “Short Skirt”, pretty sure being held down isn’t the number one priority of a short skirt. What is meant to be a juggernaut collaboration on paper ends up playing like a filler song and although Maleekberry’s beat isn’t bad, recycling a centre riff (See: Maleekberry’s “Kontrol”) doesn’t exactly scream originality. Another song with the copycat syndrome is the Olamide and Phyno assisted “Life is Eazi”, produced by Masterkraft. “Life is Eazi” plays out like the less charismatic companion of Phyno’s “Fada Fada” with overblown drums.
Life is Eazi Vol. 1 – Accra to Lagos drips fun and celebration also acting as a bridge between two cities that have a lot more common music attributes than alienating ones. Mr Eazi achieves his aim with ATL in impressive fashion.
Writer’s rating: 3.5/5
Words by Peter Adedotun Dennis, aka Mr not so Eazi, aka @ayo_dennis.