After the unexpected success of the hit single, Tesojue, the copper haired rapper returns with his third studio release, Baba Hafusa, a 14 +2 record featuring production from Chopstix, Sarz, Jospo, Sossick, Young John and D’Tunes.
Reminisce is the rapper’s rapper, the kinda artist one could imagine handing out words and lines to a fellow rapper to complete their 16s or stopping by to partake in a neighbourhood cypher, dropping a couple of unexpected lines only to leave as abruptly as he came. He enjoys rap; it comes so easily to him, which of course is a double-edged sword.
Comfortable in his own skin, even to the extent of deliberately mispronouncing English words; rap, is not supposed to be inaccessible, dude is keenly aware of his audience, ‘awon fans ti bo pampers’ gone are the days where the Channel O set dictated what was cool, with the proliferation of smart phones and music sites like NotJustOk, TayoTv, Jaguda et al, the ‘Igboro’ has direct access to the music, no more need for a go-between. A stance summed up on the street banger, Local Rappers.
Local Rappers is actually an ironic song. This was essentially Reminisce and other most high profile ‘Ibile’, saying, ‘we can do what you can do and STILL be cool whilst doing it’, imported, accented cool as the only cool no longer holds sway. The song is a punch line and verbal pissing contest in its entirety, ’won ni mo siin gbere, mi’o le eep op e’ – “(to think) they said a guy with tribal marks could not be a true hip-hop artist” – Phyno and Olamide showed up on the track. It’s harmless fun really, though a couple of cats on whom the shoe fit rather snuggly have taken offence, oh well.
One could imagine dude as that young OG regaling the neighbourhood kids with tales of all the ‘shinanas’ he’s enjoyed, they’re largely amused by him even if they don’t quite believe his stories entirely. The story is good whilst it’s fresh but here we have an album of 14 + 2 songs, 8 of those are about either his sexual prowess or conquests; it gets predictable, boring even. Beat wise, he chose well, from Sarz, with whom he enjoys a Nas-and-Trackmasters-like relationship, which coupled with his butter smooth delivery, saves this album from itself. Reminisce raps like he could literally sell water to a well. He has honed a curious style of speaking bad English on some tracks, only to surprise you later with his fluency. It’s deliberate; he’s cultivating a die-hard fan base, the kind who’ll gladly hail him in all the monikers he’s known as, whilst letting the Lekki Phase One crowd know that rapping in a Nigerian language doesn’t betray a lack of sophistication. It’s a choice.
The album’s title track ‘Baba Hafusa’ is, lyrically, the album’s standout. A 3-minute ode to his hustle, the beat breaks into a reggae bridge, one can almost imagine him thumping his chest to emphasise his point. In case you didn’t know, ‘Baba Hafusa sa l’Alaga’ which translates literally as ‘Baba Hafusa is the chairman’.
There are two or perhaps three ways to look at this album; if you like Remi the rapper dude, you’ll be undoubtedly disappointed save for a couple of tracks. If Reminisce the star is who takes your fancy, this album oughta do you just fine. Think of it as a Yoru-English ‘Fire of Zamani’; dope production, fast life raps, nothing with depth lyrically. But, therein lies the contradiction; he is not only about the fast life, at least that is what the publicity surrounding this release would have the audience believe. His family was the driver behind his choice to go commercial yet the music sounds like he’s a bachelor living the high life.
I Need A Girl, shows only a glimpse of what the artist could do were he to push himself. He has one story to tell or rather has chosen to tell only one on Baba Hafusa, one cannot imagine that an artist of his obvious intelligence spends all his time thinking of couplets to shinanas, but it appears so.
This album is not strictly for his rap fans. They were satiated with the critically acclaimed but underappreciated Alaga Ibile, but with that said, the ‘commercial singles’ on Baba Hafusa sound rather formulaic. Gba Mi L’ago, featuring production from D’Tunes and Sean Tizzle on the hook, is good on its own but placed amongst joints that artist clearly phoned in, it gets lost. Busayo, with the underrated Chopstix on deck is nice; Ice Prince did his thing here and Rem’ is at the height of his ‘Mr. ‘bo kpata awon shinana’ (Mr. Panty Dropper) steez on this joint.
It’s a decent album, but decent shouldn’t be enough for an artist as interesting as Remilekun Safaru is. Perhaps he had no idea that the game would be so wide open. With Olamide and Phyno‘s sub-par release and no other popular rapper emerging in the past year, he had a once-in-an-artist’s-lifetime chance of really grabbing the rap mantle. Unfortunately he falls rather short. The subtle joy of the album is listing ‘Tesojue’ after ‘Local Rappers’. It’s a cheeky, ‘take that’ move to the naysayers, one wonders if it was deliberate.
Even as a commercial album, Baba Hafusa doesn’t do enough to hold your attention. The subject matter is too repetitive for this album to better than just average.