We take a look at Basketmouth's A&R skills with his latest album titled 'Horoscopes', reviewing some of the songs on the project.
"Twice’s a charm" has never been truer in the case of ace comedian Bright Okpocha, popularly known as Basketmouth, who recently took his music journey seriously and is gradually making the world take him seriously in the same vein.
The prolific Nigerian comedian was once a rapper but left that path to fully pursue comedy. But we know "home is where the love is", which must have prompted the humour-head to return to music, except this time as an A&R, and while Basketmouth may not see himself as one, he certainly possesses and has showcases that quality.
Who is A & R? A short form for "artist and repertoire" is someone who scouts for talents, oversees their creative process, and also helps in the marketing and promotion of their creative output.
With the idea of having soundtrack albums for movies getting more popular each day, Basketmouth’s first appearance as an A&R came on the scene in 2020 after he released 'Yabasi', an album curated for his comic show ‘Papa Benji." Yes, he is the executive producer and more on the 'Yabasi' album, and his A&R skills were screaming through the roof - discovering the right artistes and pairing them alongside was top-notch.
Although some combinations were not far-fetched, such as the Show Dem Camp and Oxlade combo on ‘Myself’. However, you cannot overlook his intelligence in pairing Ladipoe and Waje on the soulful record ‘Ride or Die". These are two creatives whose style of music perfectly soothes the love theme, but you would not necessarily picture them making a song together until Basketmouth made that happen, and to an extent, the song is a classic – soothingly enjoyable.
Pairing Peruzzi with veteran rapper IllBlliss on "Udo" was another A&R intelligent move that might not necessarily make you rate him, but of course, you would take him seriously. Another skill the father of three showcases is his depth and a vast choice of music. Unless you are an intense music lover, you will always discover a new act on Basketmouth’s project. As much as he tries to make the projects mainstream, he solely dictates his choice of artists without "commercial/public influence" and still ends up doing great on the charts. Respectfully, names like Waje, Umu Obiligbo, Bez, Flash, Magnito, etc. are not necessarily names that get a lot of project features, but Basketmouth, in his "A&R-ness," saw beyond the surface.
I mean, after ‘Yabasi’ which was considered by many as a SOLID album, it's normal for many to also accord it a one-time status, but in the real sense, "Twice a charm" has never been truer in the case of Basketmouth.
His latest album, titled "Horoscopes," is a 9-track project which is more expressive than ‘Yabasi’. The first project was dominantly a highlife album, while the latest one, although it has the highlife element, dwells more in Afro-fusion, which encompasses a lot of sounds that represent Africa.
The successful comedian, actor, producer, and A&R before the release of ‘Horoscopes’ had dared everyone to skip a track on the project. "I Dare you to skip a track!", he captioned an Instagram post before the release of the album, with confidence that must have come from knowing he had carefully selected the talents he worked with and, as well, oversaw the creative process of the tunes that were created.
As soon as you start the 'Horoscopes' album, you are introduced to more than a perfect intro 'Love & Life', making a bold statement that you are surely in for a good ride. A Simi x Johnny Drille collaboration will always slam, but adding lyricism in the form of rap by bringing in M.I Abaga was a game changer! Sweet Melodies colliding with coherent bars had never sounded better, and a BIG shout-out to the producer, Duktor-Sett, for setting the mood right with the combination of violin, piano, and subtle drums – a masterpiece!
Another stand-out selection is the pairing of 2baba and Blaqbonez on ‘Trouble'. To be honest, you probably wouldn't have pictured both artists on a song. However, Basketmouth saw and heard beyond the usual so much that he knew the perfect sound to give both acts and make them comfortable in delivering it; a playful and lively tune that fits the characters of both artists, hence, aiding them in creating a smash.
The Peruzzi feature on 'Celowi' is another stand-out song on the project. The singer-songwriter bodied the song so much that you might be tempted to say he delivered what was expected of Wande Coal on 'Listen'. The A&R skills that Basketmouth possesses have made him focus on some acts, and he doesn't mind featuring them over and over again. Peruzzi appeared on the previous album and returned for the new one, as did Oxlade, Flavour, and The Cavemen, all of whom delivered.
Basketmouth tops his A&R game with the last song on the project, "Assembly of the Gods," a befitting title for the magic that was made on the song. Firstly, the line-up might seem confusing as it has rappers Falz, Magnito, IllBliss, and Dremo, along with highlife singers, The Cavemen and Flavour, all on a song together. Of course, you believe it's going to be a hip-hop song with the rappers’ lineup, a cypher maybe. But the highlife singers included in the lineup might just throw a spanner in everything, leaving you confused.
However, press play on the song and you will understand how Basketmouth excellently executed the concept of merging highlife and hip-hop, making it very comfortable for the rappers and the singers to cohabit the song. Once again, the producer, Duktor-Sett, flexed his muscles, using the snare to entice the rappers while the trumpet and piano enticed the highlife singers–pure genius! This is a proper AFRO HIP-HOP. Don't play!
For me, the ‘Horoscopes’ project is another classic masterpiece. The Eze Gburu Gburu keeps raising the bar, and it's an exciting thing to see. Carefully selecting acts to work with and the songs to put out is a path he has been consistent with, and honestly, it's cheers to more!
PS: Mr. Basketmouth, can you please increase the number of songs on the albums you will be putting out next? Maybe 15 or so. They are becoming too short for the sort of perfection that comes with it. Thank you in advance!