After following up his breakthrough song Woju with the similar sounding highlife number “Laye”, it was somewhat clear to the hopeful fans of Daniel Tobiloba Anidugbe that the G Worldwide’s wonder boy knew one or two things about song writing.
This notwithstanding, the jury was out on social media with that usual biting sarcasm that Kiss Daniel (sic) “messed with the same song” like he rightfully sang in his elegant verse on DJ Shabsy’s Raba.
The build-up to his album release involved him dropping a few other hits. “Good Time (have such a lovely day)” was so charismatic, senior Wizkid covered it. “Mama” is a resounding gem of a modern love song (oedipal conflict notwithstanding). At this point, it was crystal clear that Kiss Daniel and his sultry-dry silk of a voice were here for good— and we better prepare to have a good time.
Now to the album title, “New Era” is a bit disappointing for such an anticipated debut. This title brings to mind the grandiose album titles of fuji & juju music. Of course, there is a departure from the old, and it starts from Kiss Daniel not using those words “new era” even in a cameo-like situation on the album. Yet, his handlers should have considered a different title.
Another foible is the number of tracks, a whooping 20; but this isn’t peculiar to Kiss Daniel. The moment the single became more important than the album, the album became a retrospective catalog, but not New Era, which begins with an affirmative introductory song, “New King”. The rhetorical question of the hook— Who the new king? — and Beatburx’s marvel of a beat says it all.
The adjective “New” is quite integral to understanding the victories of Kiss Daniel. The 20-something-year-old Water Engineering graduate is a breath of fresh air and at the same time reminds one of all those that came before him. On a first listen, it is clear that Kiss Daniel draws a line across the traditions of African music, passing through a timeline of highlife and juju music all the way to what is now called Afrobeats. Sometimes a phrase, a falsetto, or an adlib will bring to mind King Sunny Ade, Kayode Fashola, Dele Taiwo, Klever Jay, Danny Young and even 9ice.
That said, the promise of this album would have been brought home with a leaner track list. Some songs like “Another Day”, “Give Into”, “Nothing Dey” and “All God” did not deserve their day in the sun but then doing a first album is a bit like trawling. Middle level songs also abound and on a good number of them he got assisted by his labelmate Sugarboy; the only featured vocalist on the entire album!
It is a triumph to have a first-time artist since 2Face featured such few and unknown names on his breakthrough album. Perhaps this deviation from the zeitgeist is what earns the album its name “New Era”; but then again, how new is new?
To some nothing is new; to others new is when the old re-surfaces, but to us at OlisaTV, Kiss Daniel is clearly a new kiss of fresh breath. On the Young-John stellar production “Kiss Me”, Kiss Daniel gives instruction in a heterosexual romance situation and varies his songwriting pattern a bit, using goal-directed calls and a redundant response. On his situation song “Are You Alright”, he is playful and sarcastic when an ex (lover) resurfaces. The DJ Coublon beat marries beautifully repetitive rhythms with Kiss Daniel’s singing. If one strips Kiss Daniel’s music of the heavy percussion, he might almost pass for a modern juju singer.
“Alone” is Kiss Daniel’s Ojuelegba, reflective and melancholic but still heavy in the percussion department. It is quite interesting that his jaunty lyrics are most accomplished when he delves into affairs of the heart. On the Masterkraft produced “Jumbo”, he sings about a certain Amaka whom he impregnates, and the not-so-subtle refutations of her parents. And on the Young-John produced “Mama”, he serenades confidently when he begins the song with the masterful bridge and affirms, “I won’t lie to you/but if I fit lie for you”.
Seamlessly switching lyrics from Yoruba, to Pidgin and then English, the music of the baby-faced and gangly Kiss Daniel finds audience in almost every ear it falls upon. The highlife of the golden age and the Caribbean Ska music were made for dance, specifically of sinuous African curves. Almost fifty years after, Kiss Daniel’s music makes you want to do same. “Laye” has gone on to become a staple on the Nigerian wedding ceremony playlist. Not in recent times has a musician fortified the soundscape with love music that completely makes you want to burst into a mating dance.