Pieces on Film, Prose and Music by a Nigerian

Tag: Phyno


Originality is Overrated.

No Guts No Glory cover

Should an artist’s influences be so concealed as to be imperceptible?

Not according to Phyno, on whose debut No Guts No Glory, his heroes, mostly out of American hip-hop culture, are on display. The album even opens with a line from Eminem’s Without Me: “Real name, no gimmicks.”

Later, there’s Alobam, rhythm taken from Drake’s Worst Behaviour; and on standout track Good Die Young not only is the rap from Kanye West but the use of a Marvin Gaye sample harks back to the American’s work on Jay-z’s 2001 work, Blueprint.

Yet Guts is a triumph because of Phyno’s delivery. As expected, Igbo listeners get more mileage, but fortunately hip-hop is also about delivery as it is about lyrics; and Phyno’s delivery is remarkable. His more successful songs—including Man of the Year, Parcel— have verses riding beats so intimately one feels inseparable from the other.

Igbo rappers are not a novelty: Mr Raw (the artist formerly known as Nigga Raw) revived interest in the region for the mainstream; Ill Bliss was never really an Igbo rapper, neither was Ikechukwu. Phyno has updated Mr Raw’s flow, and if Ill Bliss and Ikechukwu sprinkled their verses with Igbo, Phyno floods his with the language.

On Icholia, MI offers:

“Ice got the north

Phyno got the east

Olamide, the west

So what’s left for you to eat baby?

I guess you gotta go down south baby

with that mouth baby

And I’m out baby.”

As characteristic of brilliantly perverse rappers, it is a double entendre—yet MI, very self-consciously, stops short of saying any of his collaborators (and rivals) transcends a region.

Well, Phyno makes a case on Man of the Year: he is, after all, the “East Coast nigga now…banging in the West.” And should his rich form on No Guts No Glory continues, he won’t have to say it himself: We’ll chant it, regions be damned.



The Voice

WAJE album cover


Waje’s new album, Words Aren’t Just Enough, is a contender for the 2013 album of the year. At a time when artists are throwing everything into LPs in a bid to find out what sticks to the audience’s ears, she has made an album catering to her major strength—her big voice.


Everything on Words Aren’t Just Enough is in service of that voice so much it is delightful overkill. She is singing half the contemporary scene out of the park and breaking the hearts of the other half, one vocal manoeuvre after another.


The highs come early: by the third track, the mellow, unhurried, excellent Ijeoma, she has given more than double the price of admission. From that point onward, it becomes a case of managing a sweet tooth her music has spawned. She succeeds and delivers a comparable high on Black and White featuring Eva and Phyno on a production arrangement recalling Bez’s Super Sun remix and Eva’s own High.

The themes are mainly variations of love as she makes a strong case for falling in one kind of love or the other: marital, amatory, agape, narcissistic even—all the time proving that although words are hardly enough, sung in that voice of hers, a case just may be made for their sufficiency.

Un Blog de Sel

Je pense, donc je ne suis personne.

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