“Mr. Money With the Vibe” – A best-in-class debut – Caleb Olorunmaiye
Asake’s debut album follows on the heels of an EP released in February this year, and is the culmination of several months of features, teasers and hits that have marked Asake’s breakthrough into the music industry. The album titled after a self-given moniker which he references on his hit “Sungba”, embodies the Nigerian dream in its theme, lyrics, and attitude as the 30-minute long 12 song album jumps from one song into another, evoking life in Lagos – fast paced, boisterous, energetic, rhythmic with the occasional vulgarity, whether in English, pidgin or Yoruba.
Mr. Money with the Vibe enraptures and serenades you with catchy instrumentals blending Amapiano with Afrobeats in a beautiful mix that leaves one delighted at the sounds coming through the speakers.
Mr. Money with the Vibe is a tremendous feel-good album. Where it is somber and serious, its beat is catchy and sways you to the lyrics of his street philosophy. Where it is upbeat and up-tempo, you are not immune to the things it does to you; it makes you catch a vibe.
The album combines afrobeats, fuji, amapiano and a soulful church sound into a fantastic potpourri of music that is jampacked into 30 minutes of sonic pleasures.
But how exactly does he do it?
Mr. Money With the Vibe opens with Dull, a song that could not be any further from its title. Dull is melodious and choral in its realisation. The piano chords and horns provide a melody that stirs up and provokes emotions that set the tone for the melodious, churchy sound that the album goes on to have.
The lyrics starts by “observing due protocols,” Asake sings
Oke agba ni mo gun yi o, e ma jen jabo
Eyin agba mo be yin o, mi o shako
I have climbed the shoulders of elders, please do not let me fall
Elders, I beg you, I am not being proud
Make I dey chop my life jeje kin de ma shomo
Oshomo gbomo omolomo
Asake simply wants to live the good life, replete with chasing women; the acknowledged and unacknowledged dream of millions of young Nigerian men, Gen Zs and Millennials alike.
Dull is also a promise to self and serves as a self-motivation towards his purpose.
He chants “I swear I no go dull”, repeatedly while asking“Wetin Mama go chop?” A reminder of his responsibility to look after his mother.
Terminator, the second song on the album was first teased on the 24th of July on Twitter and released almost a month later. Teminator is chock full of sexual innuendos
Oh my bana
Come chop my bana
Elemi lo ma last
as it references themes we’ve heard previously in Nigerian music – the eager male lover anxious about his lover’s arrival for their tryst to commence.
Don’t be late
Don’t keep me waiting
We done get agreement oh
Takes you back to 2Baba’s Amaka where he desperately pleads “let me know when you go show.”
Organize has elements of Afrobeat in how the song begins. The Choir chants:
Organize! Every other day I organize
and it could easily have been Fela’s Egypt 80 band setting the tone for their lead singer to enter the song with charisma and charm. The horns serenades and in true fashion of everything Nigerian, the first lyrics of the chorus is something of a philosophical non-philosophy:
Some of us are wise, every other person overwise
Asake, however, reiterates a sentiment expressed in PBUY on the first verse of Organize
Emi yato sawon, kan ka mi soto, ka mi soto
(I am different from them, so dont lump me with them)
Organize also lends itself to the zeitgeist of this period. Appealing to the sensibilities of GenZs who do not wish to conform to norms, nor be told what to do or how to behave in certain contexts.
The smash hit Peace Be Unto You is another song that encapsulates the entire theme of the album as well as the Nigerian dream chased by young people.
PBUY has references to Islam and Christianity., Asake intones Asalamalekum before likening himself to Christ when he says he has ‘many many disciples’.
The religious overtones aside, his debauchery is on full display in the same song as he goes on to ask Anita for a blow job.
Anita, nita, nita, nita, go down se
Dupe is comforting and motivational. The horns are employed again on this song providing an upliftment not just to the tune and beats but also to the listener. Magicsticks plays a clean and clear progression with the horns that almost gets you to sing the solfa notation.
The chorus encourages the listener to be thankful, because it will get to their turn. It calls on them to shout Halleluyah and promises that not having it today means that it is far from reach.
This is mindset very common among Nigerians, whose daily mantra can be summed up in ‘If I no get today, I go get am tomorrow’.
Muse, the second shortest song on the album at 1:57 minutes long is an ode on which he pays homage to the subject of his attraction asking her why she’s afraid and reassuring her that he really wants to be with her. With two verses and a bridge of an ouuuu hum, it’s the one song Asake doesn’t seem to put too much thought or work into. The percussion that begins the song is the same pattern from Dupe, with the one on Muse simply slowed down and chopped.
Joha is a proper dance song with the title asking you to jo ha,(Dance ah) but a close listen for the yrouba speaker will revela that the lyrics are as salacious as they come, a reprise of his performance on Sungba.
Like in Sungba, Asake makes it clear that when it comes to sex, he has no business with foreplay.
Nzaza is a soulful melodic tune that touches on Asake’s personal struggles and his overcoming them. With brutal honesty he sings:
I show dem pepper kin to sanle
While on the pre-chorus, Asake delves into the persona of the street sage
Person wey no work oh, tell me how e wan chop, mehn I don’t know know
The bass guitar and piano that accompany it makes it all the better and accentuates the lyrics, giving it that melodious and soulful vibe
Ototo follows Nzaza closely with a similar sonic experience and lyrical trend. Street smart philosophy found only on the lips of old timers who are these days referred to as ‘egbon adugbo’
Playing the sage on this one, Asake tells his listener that we are all different through the circumstances of our birth, and he doesn’t have the stamina to carry another person’s burden.
While it seems like a brutal dismissal, he however goes on to offer words of encouragement.
No go relent… Mehn I wish you all the best
Reason gives us the first song on the album with a feature. Asake recruits American rapper Russ for this. Russ delivers a descent verse that provides an entire new feel from the other songs on the album.
On Sunmomi Asake asks his love interest to come close to him. It’s the only word he utters on the song while the instrumental, a blend of Afrobeats and Amapiano enchants the listener into a bop and a dance.
Asake closes out the album with a Sungba Remix; a smash hit with a Burna Boy feature that made everyone pay attention to Asake and his sound. Asake appeared ready made for stardom as he held his own on a song with the biggest afrobeats/afropop artiste out of the country
There is song on the album that leaves you without the urge to move, bop, shake or dance thus Asake delivers on the promise of bringing a vibe. He is certainly a vibe we can all get behind, because whether he is soulfully stirring us with songs like Dull, Nzaza or bringing down the roof with infectious energy on songs like Organise, PBUY, Joha or Sungba, Asake was not kidding when he said he has many disciples, and they will follow where he leads.
Asake is everything he thinks he is. He embodies it in his lyrics and his swagger and has delivered a best-in-class work with his debut album. The direction of the music is superb, his sound, honed over the years makes for a pleasurable listening. Magicsticks must take some credit for the production that allowed Asake deliver with swagger and aplomb. The reverb in the mixing separates Mr. Money with The Vibe from many Nigerian projects. Maximum credit to Olamide whose A & R has over years given us brilliant artistes, and his work with Asake is testament to his ear for impeccable talents with a distinct sound.