No matter the nature of your grudge against the artist Dare/Darey, he cannot be accused of not trying hard enough and this in an industry replete with half-baked acts giving half measures. Surely, such assiduousness must be commended.
But commendation is not sufficient for an artist with what you can tell is a huge ambition. Commendation may be good, but appreciation is way better. Critical acclaim plus commercial success is the Holy Grail in the business. What better way to embark on the pilgrimage than with Double Dare, a double disc consisting of nearly a score of songs? Indeed listeners, lovers and unbelievers have an array of songs to pick from: you don’t like this song? Here, try this one; you don’t like this disc? Try the other one. Yes there’s enough variety to suggest any listener would find one to like- up tempo, mid tempo, slow. However there is enough of Darey’s insistence on muscular singing that suggests that new converts would be hardly won over- that particular quality of his music that lends an unwanted consistency to his efforts. Even a song that is intended to woo a woman- Never Say Never– ends up sounding like a motivational track and in life, the protagonist would be accused of coming on too strong. Darey might actually be an acquired taste.
The first disc (called Heart, the second is facetiously called Beat) opens with the Sisi Eko, a delightful song, featuring the least of Darey’s vocal fussing, with Yoruba lyrics in Jazz style- Obey via Sinatra; a song that has Cobhams written all over it as there is no other producer working in Nigeria with a better handle of mellow foreign music. From the high of this song, Heart immediately drops to an astonishing low with the misdirected remake of Sweet Mother, the Nico Mbarga classic. The song is just hideous, outrageously so. It is unclear if it is meant as a tribute to the late prince or as a paean to his deceased mother. Frankly, no one should be pleased with its execution. Quickly it veers into the supposedly sexually playful, Don Jazzy produced Stroke Me (supposedly, because nothing is ever playful sung in Darey’s manner) but it isn’t until the song Close that the more effective singer finally appears thankfully. It is one of the highlights of the Heart segment of the double disc with its powerful choral denouement. The others are the aforementioned Sisi Eko and Don’t let Me Know and to some extent Cure The World.
Included in the middle of the songs is the acoustic version of the abum’s first single and hit, I Like The Way You Are. The idea behind including acoustic versions in studio albums is to show listeners that the artist can do live performances without enhancements and to lend a sense of intimacy to the recordings, for Double Dare however, it is filler. The end of this track has the artist reeling some ‘impromptu’ lines that are jarring and corny- Rukky, you’re not a rookie/but your name is Rukky. Seriously?
It doesn’t take long to realize that, though the apparent plan is to show different sides to Darey, ostensibly Heart is the soft side and Beat is the edgier, risqué Darey, the quality of a majority of the songs, especially those on Heart belie that idea and the double disc package seems to be more economic based than musically inspired- an aural extrapolation of Nollywood’s predilection for unnecessary sequels. Considering the better production and actualization of the tracks on Beat, it is clear this album was intended to show Darey letting his hair down after the relative soberness of his previous album Undareyted. That album was concerned with love; this is concerned with parties, swagger and sex: “we gon make love like I wan give you belle”, he croons on Belly. So that the Heart portion is little more than an appetizer for the main course Beat.
As the singles so far released are exclusively from the Beat section, the agenda is clear. A production company less intent on hoodwinking customers would have made the songs on Heart, bonus tracks and pruned the fillers to give a single solid LP. Taken together, the album is under an hour and half and it features 2 remixes and an acoustic rendition. The excision of these extraneous bits reduces the album’s duration by a quarter of an hour. Stretching the material into two discs is a ridiculous decision. It is highly likely the unwitting, cash strapped customer after scratching his/her head is crushed upon discovering the crowd pulling, sophisticated The Way You Are and the pleasant Ba Ni Kidi are on one disc. That isn’t smart marketing by any standards- one risks annoying fans. There are no marks for this kind of ‘visionary’ move.
Darey doesn’t go alone on this album though none of the artists that had guest spots on unDAREYted made it here. Again, it is noteworthy that Heart does not have any guest spots, while Beat has P-Square, Mo’Cheddah, Timaya and Chamillionaire. Peter and Paul are on Provider where they have plans of loving a girl in “3D- mind, body and soul easily”. Darey almost overdoes it when he says “You don’t need glasses to see what you mean to me”. It is a surprising collaboration and more surprising is that these strange bedfellows produce a song of considerable beauty. The only female guest in this testosterone fest is Mo’cheddah who plays her favourite role, the cocky petulant seductress on the faux-country track Turn Me On and ends the song with, ahem! a coital moan. Another theoretically awkward collaboration with Timaya, Back To Sender, plays out well though less effectively than Provider. Chamillionaire features on the remix to The Way You Are spitting two verses about which it can only be said to incorporate some Nigerian dialect in a competent rap.
Taken together, Double Dare has its moments most of them on the Beat disc and several having Cobhams Asuquo in production capacity- the heartbreak song Pillow, if one gets past the unusual eponymous narrator, works wonderfully though a more sober beat might be appropriate; the sexually boastful Belly; the Cobhams produced Like A Movie has a remarkable beat that is almost undone by some lazy derivative lyrics: “Your future is my past/In this game you can never last/I’ve been there and I’m back/Is this the thanks I get/see I’m dangerous/this ain’t new to us”; both singles Ba Ni Kidi and The Way You Are.
Unfortunately, with the amateur songwriting; tense singing- it may be hard work but listeners want it to appear effortless; fillers; marathon duration- only the diehard fan can listen to this from start to finish without a break; and questionable packaging, he has made it difficult for these gems to get him to the Promised Land.
Perhaps, rather than dared, Darey should be admonished: “Relax, man. Really.”