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Dami Ajayi

A year and a few months after the release of her debut album, King of Queens, Yemi Alade is back again with her sophomore, Mama Africa: The Diary of an African Woman. Big name, if you ask me, for a 15 track album, but all the same, full marks for prompt releases—clearly some musicians still care for the album.
Clearly Ms Alade has been busy since her first appearance on the scene. For one, she has been honing her style, her approach and her delivery. One can venture to say that she has been caked into a brand and she is only pushing the Trojan giftsome paces further by calling it “Mama Africa” this time.
Following the unprecedented success of her biggest single Johnny as a Pan-African hit, it is clear that she and her handlers at Effyzzie Music Group marked out her territory, which is all of Africa. By adding the matronly feminist noun, Mama, to the conglomeration of fifty-four countries, I guess their hope is to make Ms Alade an African household name.
However there is a problem with the phrase Mama Africa. Did it not use to apply specifically to the late South African musician Mariam Makeba who spent donkey years in exile on account of apartheid in South Africa? The late Makeba spent a good number of octaves singing back to the injustice that was not only racial and opportunistic and if a running mate would be picked for her, it would have been the late Brenda Fassie unde ... Read Full Review

A year and a few months after the release of her debut album, King of Queens, Yemi Alade is back again with her sophomore, Mama Africa: The Diary of an African Woman. Big name, if you ask me, for a 15 track album, but all the same, full marks for prompt releases—clearly some musicians still care for the album.
Clearly Ms Alade has been busy since her first appearance on the scene. For one, she has been honing her style, her approach and her delivery. One can venture to say that she has been caked into a brand and she is only pushing the Trojan giftsome paces further by calling it “Mama Africa” this time.
Following the unprecedented success of her biggest single Johnny as a Pan-African hit, it is clear that she and her handlers at Effyzzie Music Group marked out her territory, which is all of Africa. By adding the matronly feminist noun, Mama, to the conglomeration of fifty-four countries, I guess their hope is to make Ms Alade an African household name.
However there is a problem with the phrase Mama Africa. Did it not use to apply specifically to the late South African musician Mariam Makeba who spent donkey years in exile on account of apartheid in South Africa? The late Makeba spent a good number of octaves singing back to the injustice that was not only racial and opportunistic and if a running mate would be picked for her, it would have been the late Brenda Fassie under whose watch gospel inflections provoked South African rhythm and caused an unprecedented fire that spread across the continent.
If we were to go a bit provincial and deliberately West African, the throne of Mama Africa will go to the big woman with short blonde hair, that Beninois woman, Angelique Kidjo, who recently clinched another Grammy.
There is nothing wrong with being lofty or ambitious and these days there is no reason why one shouldn’t call themselves whatever they like—but this will only account for the title, Mama Africa, with a crown effigy dangling over the text as on the LP jacket. What about the subtext: The Diary of an African Woman?
I can tell you for free that this album isn’t quite a diary, talk less of being that of an African woman. To think about the African woman will be to be expansive in one’s imagination and to envision songs that dwell on what it is to be a woman especially in the 21st century when time and technology is racing against everything. Trends are going popular and existing in a global village of sufficient cyber-connectivity will mean to inculcate paradigm-shift ideas with archaic problems.
Mama Africa is all of fifteen tracks like King of Queens. Selebobo and GospelOnDeBeatz retain production credits from her debut and are joined by DJ Coublon, BeatsByEmzo, Rotimi Keys, Mr Chidoo and PhilKeyz. What results is a spool of powerful dance music; a cocktail of possibilities of African dance music genres not flirting too far away from the tested (and trusted) light humourous touch of Johnny.
Producers like Rotimi Keys and Selebobo, interestingly lend their vocals on songs like Na Gode and Kelele. Whilst Na Gode is an errant thanksgiving song that finds itself in club scenery; Kelele tries for the Seni Tejuoso-written Easy Motion Tourist feel but the heavy percussion is a cement boot impediment. Tumbum tries too hard to be a new Johnny but fails. The now warring twins of P-Square could not save Tonight from being a tepid star-crossed party starter, however in Kom-Kom (featuring Flavour), there is a hint of brilliance that comes from channeling Onyeka Onwenu. On Baby’s Back, Alade sounds like a haughty Yoruba Fuji singer but you are wont[sic] to forgive her for Marry Me especially for its brilliant aspiration to soothing cabaret-styled rhumba.
Sauti Sol’s assisted Africa will grace many dancehall dance floors in Nairobi and Ferrari ferries in the promise of the younger Yemi Alade dedicated to making humourous and good music. Do As I Do, like the entire album, strives for dance; ditto for Dorcas. Sarkodie outshines on Ego but on Mama, Alade strives to redeem herself save the laughable lyrics of the song. Whilst the freestyle Koffi Anan is effectively a bonus, Nakupenda is the perfect mid-tempo rhumba number.
A lot has changed since Yemi Alade began to make toadstools of her hair but not her music which is still insistently biting its own tail. Even on “Mama Africa”, Yemi Alade is still looking for her Johnny.

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