Mama Africa – Yemi Alade
In her bid to represent the whole continent, Yemi Alade employed the work of producers Masterkkraft, GospelOnDeBeatz, DJ Coublon, Selebobo, Philkeyz, BeatsByEmzo, Rotimi Keys and Mr Chidoo, to create her flavoursome sophomore album ‘Mama Africa’. The album acts as promotion for all the innovative talent Africa has to offer with the creation of new sounds within Afropop, but furthermore shows Yemi’s talent not only as an Afropop artist but a R’n’B one as well.
The song ‘Tumbum’ is a continuation of her famous hit ‘Johnny’ from her debut album. Instead, this time, she is putting her foot down as to chasing for him like last time. As expected the wordplay is colourful as she uses various Nigerian dishes to describe each aspect of her cheating partner.
Along with having a robust bank of producers, Yemi had features from established afrobeat artists such as P- Square. She teamed up with the twins for ‘Tonight’ which is obviously meant for clubs/parties in mind. ‘Tonight’ is affected by Arabic sounds, setting her apart from other tracks within the album as well as within the genre.
The tracks ‘Baby’s Back’ and ‘Kom Kom’ featuring another Igbo Nigerian artist Flavour were typical of Yemi’s known sound. Both were sweet, light-hearted songs reminiscent of rhythms commonly found in folk songs. ‘Marry me’ had strong Latin influences yet the song still remained distinctively African creating a sensual tone and adding more life to the album.
‘Ferrari’ was a standout song but this time for its message. The lyrics depicted a different situation to the normal Yemi Alade story. Instead of love or cheating, she sang about gaining material things from any suitor she comes across. The song was a diversion from Yemi’s seemingly wholesome nature but if you dig deeper, you see that the lyrics point to something bigger. Yemi sings “love not be for mouth/ if you love me give me salary”; it is not news at the dire state of unemployment in Nigeria, nor its fast growing materialism and consumer culture. Your status is cemented by your material gains and in the song, she asks for these things in exchange for her suitor’s admiration. Although many could jump to conclusions and state that she is a golddigger; her lyrics point to the saying ‘love does not put on the table’ and even less so for those in African countries.
Francophone artist from Cote’ D’Ivoire, DJ Arafat joined forces with Yemi to produce ‘Do as I do’ which is another banger for the clubs. Yemi then partnered up with award winning Ghanaian rapper Sarkodie and producer Masterkraft to produce ‘Ego’. Upbeat and somewhat cute, the track for a good tune and an expansion in Masterkrafft’s talent.
Yemi went on to surprise us with her freestyle ‘Kofi Anan’ were she tried her hand at rapping. Although the rapping was nothing amazing the production made it another dancefloor track ensuring her of a solid hit. ‘Mama Africa’ was produced by GospelOnDeBeatz. The beat is intensely fast creating a sense of atmosphere as it rests and picks ups timely within the track. ‘Waka’ features South African artist Buckie and again has its Arabic touches laced within the track. Rhythmic as any afrobeat song is and layered with whispers as well as her singing, kept up the momentum further along the album.
‘Sugar and Spice’ and ‘All day’ deviated from the Afrocentric theme as I considered them to be 2 solid R’n’B tracks. ‘Sugar and Spice’ fitted in with Caribbean inspiration that a lot of afrobeat artists have taken to, namely Patronking and Jesse Jagz. Despite the awkward use of “Boomba”, Yemi reminded her audience of her serene vocal skills. ‘All day’ showed that Yemi can do more that Afropop if she wanted too, as this was a sensual R’n’B song- far from the theme of the other tracks. The only critique of this change in theme would be that the efforts may not be as profitable as they should be. This is because the album is centred around Africa and its sounds, and already being a rich album the R’n’B could have got lost within it. Hopefully, Yemi will release a R’n’B based album in her near future and in that way everyone would be made aware of her potential.
Overall this album was one I thoroughly enjoyed, Yemi seemed to have curated the right sounds from diverse places to craft an excellent album and a good showcase of her vision and talent.