Highlife crooner Flavour Nabania’s sophomore album, themed around the good life of loose women and free-flowing beer, is an ode to beer parlour gatherings. Of the eighteen tracks, which include three skits, only three songs - “Oyi (I Dey Catch Cold)”, “My Woman is Gone” and “Chinedum” - move away from this theme. “Oyi” and “My Woman is Gone” are both love songs while “Chinedum” is a dedication to his haters, mixed with praise for God and appreciation for friends and supporters.
Lots of spices
With his first album, Flavour sought to establish himself as a contemporary highlife artiste but in ‘Uplifted’ he freely samples from different genres while still maintaining his highlife core. There is a wonderful mix of reggae, dancehall, R&B, calypso, hip-hop, techno and of course highlife.
Although he does a good job with the contemporary music-inspired tracks, it is on the highlife songs like “Alcohol” and “Odiro Easy” that Flavour’s prowess as a lyricist and singer really shine.
Apart from one or two songs, this album is not the type you lie down and listen to in your bedroom. It is good music you get up to dance to with either beer in your hand or hands raised to the roof. And with the album well-tinged with his famous trademark chants - ojarikpoto, kporokotom, oringo, kirikata - it appears the album strictly limits dancing to the waist-shaking, feet-shuffling African variety of dance.
The lyrics, delivered in Igbo, English and Pidgin, are bawdy and enhanced with witty beer-parlour wisdom. These are not songs you would like your innocent child to memorise. However, for mature Igbo-speaking minds, there is pleasure in deciphering the embedded puns.
Apart from writing all the songs on this album, Flavour also shows off his skills as a producer. The album’s hit single, “Oyi”, the techno-infused “Kjumanjo” and “Chinedum” are entirely self-produced. He also co-produced some of the other tracks with his chief collaborator M-Jay.
Some flat spices
One major flaw the album has is the subpar input of some of its featured artists, most of them rappers; he could have chosen more carefully. One of the more outstanding songs, “Kwarikwa” starts and ends with a beautiful trumpet solo. It also features four other artists: M-Jay, Waga G, Jah Dey and Elense. M-Jay sings, Waga G raps and Jah-Dey does raga. None of their performances are exceptional but they will do.
After these three do their thing there is an instrumental interlude before listeners are specially introduced to “Mr. Elense Bakassi, the injection master to show [us] some simple and complex things.” After this kind of introduction there is a sudden foreboding of what to expect. And Mr. Elense Bakassi does not disappoint.
The entirety of his rap goes thus: “Simple, complex/ complex simple (2x). Love today, Love tonight/ simple complex.” And thus, what should have been a perfect song with special thanks to the trumpeter was completely ruined.
All told, ‘Uplifted’ is a good album. Flavour manages to shine while incorporating new genres to his original kind of music. It is a great thing that he does this without betraying his highlife roots or his fans. This album further affirms Flavour as a talented musician who hopefully can only do better as he continues to establish himself in the industry.