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Dami Ajayi

Approximately two years after his long-awaited debut album, Skales is back with his sophomore. We all know that the sophomore is crucial to the creative alchemy of every artist (but perhaps it is not as crucial for Skales) — hold that thought.

Skales must be admired for his tenacity. Even his new album’s title reflects this. He calls it, The Never Say Never Guy. As an aside, Never Say Never is an album title attributable to American R & B diva Brandy, until Skales came along and added guy to it. We all know what it became, a description of Skales, similar to the title of his first album, Man of the Year.

There is nothing wrong with self-referential titles, except when the tracklist is entirely egocentric. Skales scales this hurdle. This album is about him and those he is empowered to affect. At the introit of the album is Thank God. His thanksgiving is fleeting and not as directed to a divine being as it is directed to the material gains he is absolutely thankful for: his bank account which “makes him dizzy”, that he has become a “landlord” and the laughable detail of how he can now buy a product and ask the seller to keep the change.

Mama is dedicated to his mother but it is not the usual love song to mothers. It takes the slant of Lil Kesh’s Ishe. Skales deploys the metaphor of a girlfriend to conceptualise his connection to his mother. This is neither surp ... Read Full Review

Approximately two years after his long-awaited debut album, Skales is back with his sophomore. We all know that the sophomore is crucial to the creative alchemy of every artist (but perhaps it is not as crucial for Skales) — hold that thought. Skales must be admired for his tenacity. Even his new album’s title reflects this. He calls it, The Never Say Never Guy. As an aside, Never Say Never is an album title attributable to American R & B diva Brandy, until Skales came along and added guy to it. We all know what it became, a description of Skales, similar to the title of his first album, Man of the Year. There is nothing wrong with self-referential titles, except when the tracklist is entirely egocentric. Skales scales this hurdle. This album is about him and those he is empowered to affect. At the introit of the album is Thank God. His thanksgiving is fleeting and not as directed to a divine being as it is directed to the material gains he is absolutely thankful for: his bank account which “makes him dizzy”, that he has become a “landlord” and the laughable detail of how he can now buy a product and ask the seller to keep the change. Mama is dedicated to his mother but it is not the usual love song to mothers. It takes the slant of Lil Kesh’s Ishe. Skales deploys the metaphor of a girlfriend to conceptualise his connection to his mother. This is neither surprising nor baffling. Sigmund Freud will be nodding assertively in the afterlife. Skales takes into account the success of his previous album. On NSNG he leans more into dancehall, without failing to assert his grooming as an Afrobeats crooner. It appears that Skales, the rapper, is lost because his attempt at dropping a few bars on ‘Mama’ was rather unimpressive. The most successful song on this album is called Booty Language. This song seems to shuffle its feet until the dancehall riddim goes insane at the killer phrase, “How do you say booty in your language?” While it will be ambitious to imagine a deeper conversation about language, this song resonates so much that Skales recruits Sarkodie for a remix. Kpete Wicked tries to continue in the attitude of booty adulation dancehall songs but it is weak, even though it is ironic that the business of gluteus muscles is to contract in dance. At some point, after a tetrad of booty songs including For You and Ko Ma Gbon, it is clear that this album is an ode to big booty shaking. Perhaps this is what Skales will never say never to. Loke Loke is trapped in its ambition as an uplifting prayer. Weighed down by elaborate and grandiose plans, it falls, not from grace, but from a lack of it. It also seems out of place to pray, especially when every other song around chalks up the different names of booty. Make Love in the Morning is remarkable because it shifts attention from Friday night to the future gains of Saturday early morning erotica. Of course, for obvious reasons, there is no mention of the much documented Walk of Shame. Whatever this album lacks in thoughtfulness, it makes up for in exuberance. Not even PJ Morton of Maroon 5 (featured on Feel Good) could save this album. On the Timaya-assisted Speak My Mind, Skales labours over some notes that are remarkable because Chaka Demus and Pliers scored them swimmingly a few decades ago. Elsewhere the album seems to fumble for relevance. In becoming self-referential, Skales’s appraisal is not skin deep. He beckons you to look at his babyface, the wads in his pockets or the intangible zeros in his bank account. He says look at my lifestyle; I am popping champagne and hosting a daily carnival. And his sexual abilities? Well, that is best left for those who open his can. In the light of Dammy Krane’s recent misdemeanor, the popular mega superstar life is a fictional narrative to which even popular artistes aspire to. The mantra is fake it till you make it, and even if you don’t make it, fake it some more. There is nothing wrong with aspiration if it is realistic and meaningful efforts are made to realize it. It is this tenacity that must be applauded in Skales; he never says never!

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