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Oris Aigbokhaevbolo

A few weeks back Banky W announced his engagement to an actress, sparking fanfare on social media. Some fans might have thought: er, what happens to all of those risque lyrics over the years, those leering come-ons—bricks upon which the man’s reputation was built?

His new album, Songs About U, answers the question. The house that Banky built with suggestive lyrics will be pulled down in part. His mother willl be happy to hear that; for fans though, the album is a bit of a swindle.

In a time when mixtapes and EPs are stacked with songs, when Mr Eazi’s mixtape had more than a dozen songs, even without many older hit songs, Mr W has produced an album of 10 songs, nearly half of which anyone paying attention has heard over the past two years. To compare, the YCee EP has eight songs, Maleek Berry’s Last Days of Summer has six songs. Banky W is hedging his bets.

It is thus unsurprising that the new album feels uninspired, tired—like the man is merely passing time. Over his past three albums, especially with the excellent sophomore The W Experience, Banky reinvigorated the R&B scene with tricks from the US. But after a while, an artist’s reputation is his commodity. Talent then takes a backseat to artistic effort.

By dedicating Songs About U to his partner, Banky W is working in self-indulgent mode. It is hard to argue with a man’s decision to tack matrimony ...

A few weeks back Banky W announced his engagement to an actress, sparking fanfare on social media. Some fans might have thought: er, what happens to all of those risque lyrics over the years, those leering come-ons—bricks upon which the man’s reputation was built?

His new album, Songs About U, answers the question. The house that Banky built with suggestive lyrics will be pulled down in part. His mother willl be happy to hear that; for fans though, the album is a bit of a swindle.

In a time when mixtapes and EPs are stacked with songs, when Mr Eazi’s mixtape had more than a dozen songs, even without many older hit songs, Mr W has produced an album of 10 songs, nearly half of which anyone paying attention has heard over the past two years. To compare, the YCee EP has eight songs, Maleek Berry’s Last Days of Summer has six songs. Banky W is hedging his bets.

It is thus unsurprising that the new album feels uninspired, tired—like the man is merely passing time. Over his past three albums, especially with the excellent sophomore The W Experience, Banky reinvigorated the R&B scene with tricks from the US. But after a while, an artist’s reputation is his commodity. Talent then takes a backseat to artistic effort.

By dedicating Songs About U to his partner, Banky W is working in self-indulgent mode. It is hard to argue with a man’s decision to tack matrimony to music, but that murmur you hear—could that be the commodification of affection? Banky had promised an album for some time. Somehow it never dropped. Now an album comes out just in time to take advantage of the social media buzz surrounding his proposal?

What is new on the album comes down to about six tracks; two of them, ‘Kololo’ and ‘Running After U’, are remarkable for diffferent reasons. The first employs a Euro-pop vibe and pidgin chorus, an unusual mix that should help fans get down in clubs. It is the closest Banky comes to experimenting. ‘Running After U’ chronicles his courting of his bride, a story familiar to his horde of social media followers. Although a more traditional Banky song, the inclusion of new guy Nonso Amadi adds a layer of new school cool. Both acts manage greater mileage than Banky did with Iyanya on the former’s last album Applaudise.

Since coming on the scene years ago, Banky has released music with certain characteristics: the cliche, the catchy, and the adapted—sometimes on the same song. One of the album’s more sentimental tunes, ‘Heaven (Susu’s Song)’, works all three. The cliche: I would love you till the day I die; the catchy: the tune, supported by a guitar, is hum-worthy; the adapted: the line “will we still be in love in heaven” sounds as though the idea was taken from Eric Clapton’s ‘Tears in Heaven’. His bride would have to decide if this familiarity taints the album’s clearest, dearest song about her.

The familiar songs are just that: familiar, having worn out their joy in the endless interval between their release and that of the new album. Together they say Songs About U should have been an EP—with just the one distinction: it should have been offered free of charge.

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