A-Q is clearly the hardest worker in Nigerian hip-hop. Hardly a year passes without an album and he has already compensated the remiss of 2019 with two projects in the first quarter of 2020!
Of course, there is the argument for the two Martell-sponsored cipher where he and his Chocolate City rappers kicked bars and cranked up their hardcore poetry, braggadocio, mad word-play for cultural impact and cognac advertising.
2020 has seen A-Q return to his first love, stacking songs for albums. God’s Engineering is a pompous title with a dash of brag. With the self-assuredness of an OG, this is his second slim album since his last effort, a rap duet with Loose Kaynon, Crown.
As with A-Q, God’s Engineering is a reflective album where he contemplates his recent alliances. Call it an emotional audit of how A-Q processes his recent flirtation with mainstream and you will not be wrong. Throughout the album, there is an ambivalent sense of how A-Q perceives mainstream, which in retrospect, he may have consciously avoided till now.
But gold fishes can’t hide for ever. A-Q has the uncanny ability of a rapper with skein of stories and his wordplay is his own idiosyncratic invention. A-Q’s trajectory has been mostly that of growth.
Hardly will you find a rapper in the game for more than 15 years, who stays loyal to the game, confident in his bars and unperturbed by reception, both real or imagined.
A-Q is pre-occupied by his journey and rap has been his way of documenting same. His stronghold has always been reminisces of a middle-class Lagos childhood with a civil servant father and teacher mother. Not overtly Freudian, his searchlight roams to retrieve the nostalgia of a 90s Lagos and crumbling society under military dictatorship and socio-economic hardships. Always perceptive, A-Q tackles this period with brisk symbols and humour.
‘Egg Rolls’ matches the thankful nostalgia of being broke to the prospect of passing effluvium, a consequence of eating eggs and the trap-styled ‘Nepa’ pairs up the prospect of rain, power cut and instant darkness.
He recruits Oxlade on the hook of ‘You Must Feel Am’, taking stock of his suave and rap accomplishments. ‘Zodiac Killa’ features Tomi Thomas singing, in a wobbly voice, about a retinue of exes whose temperaments are examined on the basis of their astrology.
Serious issues are ingrained within rap verses. Commentaries about how his relationship with M.I Abaga extended to fraternizing with On Air Radio Personalities and younger rappers as well as his concerns about Western music publishing deals.
A-Q remains ambivalent through out the album. That double-mindedness and orientation is at the crux of God’s Engineering and easily, the title motions from being a divine brag to a snide feedback. A-Q seems to be taking account of the last few years. Is the newfound fame worth his concessions? Does his affiliation with Choc City cut his previous image? Eventually, he contemplates dropping the lip for the pen, but the avid listener knows that another A-Q album will be out before his comic book.