Over the past few years, Phillip Yaw Atiemo aka Lil Shaker has received a lot of backlashes and mutinied for living his God’s given attitude – being that quiet, humble, calm and reserved dude. But he figures out that the only and best way an artiste can connect, interact, retaliate and make their intentions known is through records thus, he hooks up with the booth and cooks a delicious 16-track debut album dubbed “Captain Hook”.
To face the reality and prove to haters what he is made of, Shaker forms an experienced troop (E.L, Spiky, Joey B, Ko-Jo Cue, Pappy Kojo, Stargo, Medal and Sarkodie), employs dexterous engineers (E.L, Magnom, B2, Slimbo, Dream Jay, Spiky, Jbux and Kuvie) and captains them with mastery for glory.
After gaining a strong ground, Shaker calls and fires shots amid love making, setbacks, hustle, pains and religiously reiterates his dedication to worshipping and communicating to the Supreme Being through prayers at all times.
As the Ghanaian tradition demands, Shaker welcomes all and sundry especially his avid supporters who have been behind him through thick and thin on “Woezo” – the first track on the album. After that, Shaker promises his mum, Mrs Jasmine Ameko, that he will make her proud. “Woezo” is an Ewe phrase which translates as “Welcome”.
Then Shaker rises and faces those who cast aspersions on him and says to their face that he has turned deaf ears to their false rumours and hatred on track 2 (“Madakraa” featuring Joey & E.L). Last year, Lil Shaker told Pulse TV that he has been a victim of cyberbullying thus he decided to record “Madakraa” and it magically exploded.
Insert: Madakraa music video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ir5G886G_o8
After standing that adversity, Shaker obtains psychological resilience and uses his experience to motivate and preach to others going through similar adversity saying, “God No Bed” (God isn’t asleep). Other tracks that steers towards motivating listeners include “Naagodey” (track 5), and “Silver and Gold” (track 7).
Eventually, Shaker meets a girl on his journey and ‘tout de suite’ falls in love with her. He makes promises and expresses his love for this girl who hardly hears him so Shaker screams “Hello”! so that the girl can hear his cry. “Hello” (featuring Sarkodie) hooks easily grab listeners’ attention. Track 7 titled “E No Be Hype” featuring Ko-Jo Cue sees Shaker fall in deep love with his lover due to her good morals and qualities. “Yellow Sisi” featuring Pappy Kojo, “Dadaada”, “Lord Have Mercy” and “Kpolikpo” are other romantic tracks on the album.
Insert: Yellow Sisi music video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWI4ddb60Ro
Producer Magnom then switches the Afrobeats streak and introduces Trap-laced Hip-hop instrumentation to test Shakers’ dexterity. Shaker steps up, drops ‘dreadful’ bars and introducers himself, Joey B and Pappy Kojo as the leaders of the ‘new skuul’ on “Aben Wo Ha” – one of the few humblebrags on the album.
Shaker takes a break to honour all mothers across the globe and charges them to “Pray” for their children. “Pray”, an Afro-pop track which features Shaker’s label mate, E.L, shows his belief in mama’s spiritual protection and why it’s necessary mums continue to “Pray” for their children.
Rounding up the album, Shaker provides scintillating hooks on a Reggae masterpiece “Do You” featuring Episode, spits fire on Hip-hop jam “Fire” featuring Medal, Stargo and Ko-Jo Cue, and closes with heart soothing traditional sound titled “So E Dey”.
At one point, Lil Shaker was one of a few voices who would earnestly toss himself into rarely charted lyrical waters without fear of sacrificing commercial appeal – a smart way to prove he is in no competition with anyone.
Topics on life experiences such as self-consciousness, social injustice, religion, commitment, backbite, sex, fame, love, affection, greed and envy is captured on “Captain Hook”. He was always innovative.
While sonically magnanimous, here, the Peki- VR born curator has little left to flex than artistry.
The album captures and hooks life experiences. Be it wedding or naming ceremony, church or funeral service, streets or ghetto, pubs or clubs, “Captain Hook” has got everything in life covered.
Over the years, some sections of Ghanaian music lovers have distracted from Shaker’s creative process – except, as he shows on “Captain Hook”, distraction is his creative process.
As it is said by legendary Bob Marley, “Who the cap fits, let them wear it”. Shaker has fought for the crown and worn it, please let him rule!
4.1 (out of 5)
Release date: 17 Dec., 2015
Type: Studio album (recorded)
No. of tracks: 16 (including intro)
No. of hit tracks (so far): 3 (“Madakraa” feat. E.L & Joey B, “Pray” feat. E.L, and “Yellow Sisi” feat. Pappy Kojo)
Album length: 56 Minutes
Featured artistes: E.L, Spiky, Joey B, Ko-Jo Cue, Pappy Kojo, Stargo, Medal and Sarkodie
Producers (sound engineers): Lil Shaker, E.L, Magnom, B2, Slimbo, Dream Jay, Spiky, Jbux and Kuvie.
Label: BBnZ Live
Review by: David Mawuli
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Youssou N’Dour’s new album, ‘History’ pays homage to great African artists, without losing sight of the future ahead
Youssou N’Dour’s new album meditates on moments from a storied career and pays homage to late great African artists, without losing sight of the future ahead. History (Naïve Records release: May 17, 2019)gives new life to tracks from Babatunde Olatunji’s 1970s records, N’Dour’s own cassettes sold on the streets of Dakar in the 1980s, and a 2019 […]
Youssou N’Dour’s new album meditates on moments from a storied career and pays homage to late great African artists, without losing sight of the future ahead. History (Naïve Records release: May 17, 2019)gives new life to tracks from Babatunde Olatunji’s 1970s records, N’Dour’s own cassettes sold on the streets of Dakar in the 1980s, and a 2019 hit by Swedish star Mohombi. N’Dour reinvigorates them all with that inimitable voice—and mature musicianship—that makes Youssou N’Dour the undisputed King of African Pop.
He’s achieved a globe-spanning career, 35 albums, and hits at the top of charts around the world, but N’Dour still sees each project as a chance to explore different directions. 2017’s Seeni Valeur took to new heights the spirited Senegalese mbalax that N’Dour popularized in Senegal and around the world, while Africa Rekk (2016) featured up-to-the-minute Pan-African collaborations with Akon, Fally Ipupa, and producer Spotless, who returns on History.
The new album opens with “Habib Faye,” a moving tribute to the bassist who, as musical director of N’Dour’s band Super Étoile de Dakar, shaped their sound starting in the 1980s. The two giants of mbalax worked on separate projects in recent years, but at Faye’s untimely death in April 2018, N’Dour cancelled shows to be at his funeral. “Habib Faye was my friend, bassist, and music director for almost twenty years.” N’Dour reminisces. “Together we created many songs and played many shows around the world. Naturally, this is the first song I wrote for this album.” It‘s serene, not a lament but a contemplative elegy, a prayer with a mbalax beat and smooth sax by Cameroonian Alain Rodrigue Oyono.
History honors another late legend: Babatunde Olatunji, the Nigerian-American drummer, singer, and social activist whose Drums of Passioninspired the likes of John Coltrane and Carlos Santana. “I wanted people to know about Babatunde, a great Nigerian who had an immense impact on his country,” N’Dour explains. N’Dour returns Olatunji to the spotlight with covers of “My Child” and “Takuta,” co-composed with Prince Ayo Manuel Ajisebutu, that feature Olatunji’s original vocal recordings at the center of new arrangements. N’Dour’s own unmistakable voice carries Olatunji’s songs into the present moment.
N’Dour also digs deep into his own history, with fresh takes on three tracks from across his remarkable career. The first recording of the love song “Salimata” dates to 1989’s Jamm, while “Ay Coono La” appeared on Set in 1990. These were electric times for N’Dour: after 10 years as a star in Senegal at the helm of Super Étoile de Dakar, his work with Peter Gabriel brought him international notice, and his 1989 album The Lion attained global fame. Reimagined for 2019, these tracks have a new energy and lush production that leaves space for the emotional colors of N’Dour’s voice to glow.
With “Birima Remix,” N’Dour places the past and future in harmony. From the album Joko in 2000, “Birima” tells the legend of a Senegalese king. Now N’Dour has recreated the song with a new richness in collaboration with Seinabo Sey, a young Swedish singer with Senegambian roots making waves on the Scandinavian electro-soul scene. Sey’s new lyrics pay tribute to her father’s heritage and the immigrant experience, creating a multilayered exploration of African values and ancestors. N’Dour’s remix of “Hello” by Swedish-Congolese singer Mohombi shows that History is not only about the past: “Hello” swept Mohombi to the final of Sweden’s Melodifestivalen competition in March 2019.
N’Dour’s new songs make vivid, current stories a part of History. “Confession,” a collaboration with Mike Bangerz (BGRZ), a French beatmaker of Beninese heritage, chronicles the romantic plight of a young emigrant working abroad. On “Macoumba,” N’Dour, BGRZ, and saxophonist Oyono riff on the characters and sounds of Dakar’s streets, where a macoumba is an unlucky gambler. “Tell Me” rounds out the album with a multilingual plea for connection and trust.
Throughout his extraordinary career, Youssou N’Dour has always been moving forward, creating new sounds even when he makes forays into tradition. Now, exploring his own past and the legacy of friends and heroes, N’Dour makes History his own.
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