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Dami Ajayi

I belong to the school of thought that believes 9ice is partly responsible for his decline. His foray into releasing double albums, in retrospect, was summarily shooting himself in the leg. His last release in 2014, the double album CNN/GRA was easily the lowest point of his musical career. CNN had most of the better songs but it was not even at par with Versus or Tradition, not to talk of Gongo Aso, his magnum opus. Then there was that stint with politics which indeed is very commendable. 9ice is not only a nice singer; he is also a nice citizen, but hold that thought.

Indeed, it has been a long way since 2007 when he released his debut album Certificate, and with the benefit of hindsight, a lot has changed in the music industry. 9ice’s first and second outing owes a lot to the man called ID Cabasa. An assuming, camera-indifferent person, ID Cabasa’s studio was work shed for a number of artistes who cut their teeth in his recording booth. Olamide. Reminisce. And, of course, 9ice.

The only constant in life’s equation is change and, expectedly, 9ice who became a superstar on Id Cabasa’s platform, moved on to collaborate with other producers. Nine years after releasing his first album, he is back again with his seventh album which he names for his friend and producer, Id Cabasa.

If you ask me, it is a curious choice, but he clearly means well. In a video interview, he ex ...

I belong to the school of thought that believes 9ice is partly responsible for his decline. His foray into releasing double albums, in retrospect, was summarily shooting himself in the leg. His last release in 2014, the double album CNN/GRA was easily the lowest point of his musical career. CNN had most of the better songs but it was not even at par with Versus or Tradition, not to talk of Gongo Aso, his magnum opus. Then there was that stint with politics which indeed is very commendable. 9ice is not only a nice singer; he is also a nice citizen, but hold that thought.

Indeed, it has been a long way since 2007 when he released his debut album Certificate, and with the benefit of hindsight, a lot has changed in the music industry. 9ice’s first and second outing owes a lot to the man called ID Cabasa. An assuming, camera-indifferent person, ID Cabasa’s studio was work shed for a number of artistes who cut their teeth in his recording booth. Olamide. Reminisce. And, of course, 9ice.

The only constant in life’s equation is change and, expectedly, 9ice who became a superstar on Id Cabasa’s platform, moved on to collaborate with other producers. Nine years after releasing his first album, he is back again with his seventh album which he names for his friend and producer, Id Cabasa.

If you ask me, it is a curious choice, but he clearly means well. In a video interview, he explained that his choice was to celebrate Id Cabasa and the entire proceeds of the album will be put in Id Cabasa’s purse. This is a noble gesture, perhaps the better word will be to say it is a nice thing.

Id Cabasa (the album) has 16 tracks and 3 bonus tracks produced by eight other producers excluding Id Cabasa who produced the highest number of tracks, 6. Lasting for 77 minutes and 53 seconds, the album has no featured acts.

It begins on a mid-tempo note and cautionary tone with DJ Coublon producing the hugely percussive Glass House which juxtaposes the Yoruba proverb about throwing stones and the English idiom about throwing stones at glass houses into a fine weave of didactic music. The album takes a break on the Dapiano-produced Poison, in which 9ice sings in Hausa perhaps to appease his Northern Nigerian fans. Ojo brings back vintage 9ice from where he was hidden. A flurry of socially relevant Yoruba proverbs, tight-lipped humour, a bit of self-indulgent praise and a dawdling shoki beat—producer Krisbeat almost lets down this song.

The Young John produced Living Things speaks to the hustle, and even if Olamide’s Bobo dwarfs it, the hook has something redolent about it. Oh Baby is Id Cabasa’s first outing on the album and one of the better moments on the album. Enjoying an interpolating belt of bass guitar riffs, this love song enjoys a memorable and socially relevant couplet: “Baby you are worth much more to me than words could utter/Baby you are worth much more to me than baby mama”.

The acerbic and incisive Oro produced by Olumix is reminiscent of 9ice’s duet with Asa, Pete Pete. Using the metaphor of the spoken word, he speaks for and to the Nigerian situation. The Puffy Tee-produced Aiye is gentle and laconic in contrast to the Olumix’s produced Abefe which at best apes the shoki zeitgeist.

Mio Yo, produced by Id Cabasa, enjoys percussive intermissions and 9ice is vitriolic as he speaks to the music industry. DJ Coublon’s second effort on this album, Economy, which speaks to Nigeria’s economic austerity has enjoyed a prior life as a single.

As expected, some songs work better as fillers, or more appropriately, as expectorants. These songs include Alo, Ogara, Beautifully Spoilt, Aunty and, frankly, what is left of the album.

Might I just that an album does not need 20 songs to be great. One does not need to refer 9ice to his second album, Gongo Aso, which had just 14 songs and remains evergreen as his abiding legacy.

The album Id Cabasa comes from a place of generosity. It is 9ice at his finest in recent times. Definitely not a classic, it has its moments of brilliance and socio-political relevance. And for detractors who imagined 9ice is done, this is the bounce back. If this was a Western film, imagine 9ice riding into the sunset on the back of Id Cabasa who deliberately carries the piggy bank.

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