Artist: Yemi Alade
Album Title: King of Queens
Label: Effyzzie Entertainment
Release Date: October 7, 2014.
Yemi Alade has had a massive year! She made the leap from an up and coming act with barely distinguishable pop joints to a bona fide African pop star, driven by the Selebobo produced Johnny. King of Queens (KoQ) is her debut offering.
A King is defined as a ‘male ruler who holds life tenure or a person or thing preeminent in its class’. Ms Alade is gunning for the latter, gender irrespective. KoQ is her claim to the throne, a 16 + 4 album, featuring production from an array of beat-smiths.
The album opens with Bovi on the Johnny skit. This is rather bizarre, and then becomes clearer when one has had the pleasure of hearing the K.I.N.G interlude. But Johnny was a monster hit, coupled with a video that garnered the highest number of Youtube views of any female artist in Nigerian pop music history.
The first half of the album almost makes for the perfect debut; Why, a Reggae joint drenched in audible sunshine, in case you didn’t know, Ms. Alade is quite the singer. And in strengthening her pan African appeal, Pose features Ghana’s R2Bees. It’s rather impressive how the guest slides effortlessly into delivering a very ‘Naija-centric’ spot. It makes for a good, typical afro-pop joint, nothing complicated. On Duro Timi a joint laced on a bouncy mid tempo R&B production by Sizzle Pro, she shows off some of her vocal range; the end product is one of the better Naija R&B songs in a while, a contender for the album’s best.
King of Queens is not some clever quip of an album title. Ms. Alade really means to show you why and how she is deserving of this self appropriated label. Never shy and or retiring on tracks, she asserts herself, be it in detailing what she intends to do a bobo on Catch You – a sexy, slow, bedroom number – or unabashedly stating her desire for Money. On the all around excellent Selense, an Afro-Dance joint featuring Chidinma, Ms. Alade sings about her interest in a manner that leaves no doubt about who is the boss. She wants to be the one to take him home, to be Chairman because she enjoys his moves, this playfulness and Chidinma’s background vocals serve to make this song one of the highlights of the album. Temperature feat. Dil is another high point on the album; a sugary love song delivered in pidgin with smatterings of Igbo, it’s a delight to hear.
A king must expand her territory and this is something Ms. Alade appears to have well within her grasp. On her collaborations with Selebobo and the particularly impressive Flip Tyce, she manages to parlay what is clearly her comfort zone into snatching new territory for her music. The aforementioned Johnny and K.I.S.S.I.N.G featuring the show stealing, Diamond, a much better offering than the original song, she doubles down on the ‘Afro’ aspect of her music. The latter track is listed as a bonus and it should have made the album proper. Diamond makes the song glisten. His falsetto delivery adds a dash of something the song lacked on its own. Perhaps, this is part of the advantage Ms. Alade wields over those that’d naturally be seen as her competition; she is trilingual, blessed with good musical acumen, as well as the foresight to broaden her appeal straight out the gate and so self assured it almost borders on arrogance but it’s all good, she walks the game she talks.
The not so successful parts of the album come on Daddy Oyoyo (a confusing and unsettled attempt at Gospel) and the entirely predictable Fall In Love. A ballad was perhaps unavoidable but this joint here is not it. It feels like the artist ticked off an item on her to do list . The mixing on two of the better songs on the album, If I Catch You and Money, is also disappointing. The album is overlong, an oft repeated complaint where Nigerian pop albums are concerned. Also, the opening track should have been the KING interlude; it sets the tone for the project but these are minor gripes.
This is a stellar effort from Yemi Alade. She has shown herself capable of holding her own, a performer who shines on wax and on stage; see her season closing performance on Ndani Tv, KoQ is a delight for the most part. She dabbles in Afro-Dance, Reggae, R&B, she also picked guests who did their spots justice, as as producers. Selebobo established a seamless partnership with her. Two hits, Johnny and Tangerine, were the result. She could have rested on her laurels and had him produce the bulk of the project but, no and that is to her credit. She needed no co-sign by a well known artist to earn the monster year she’s having, and this album proves she’s no fly by night act. This is a deliberate grab at longevity, for that and the delivery of more than bravado, all hail the King!
This album is rated 7/10
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