Yemi Alade returns with magic on “Woman of Steel” – Dami Ajayi
Fresh off Beyonce’s companion CD; “The Lion King:
The Gift”, Yemi Alade has pulled out a fourth LP album almost effortlessly from
her back pocket.
Easily the hardest working female Nigerian pop
singer, Ms. Alade’s devotion to her discography has ensured that no year has
passed, since 2014, without some singles, albums, or deluxe albums making its
way into our consciousness right from when she first made our acquaintance with
her smash hit, ‘Johnny.’
And her efforts have paid off. She is the biggest
Nigerian musical export to other African countries. Ms. Alade and her team
understand how popular music works. By doing her songs in translation to French
and more recently to Swahili, she has improved her fan base.
Little wonder, she also didn’t pass up the
momentum of hype around Mrs Carter’s The Gift. Ms. Alade is known for her matriarchal
sounding titles; here she calls herself, Woman of Steel, which speaks
auspiciously to willpower and tenacity. At 13 tracks plus two bonus tracks
spooling for about 52 minutes, featured acts abound – Duncan Mighty (on ‘Shake’),
Angelique Kidjo ( on ‘Shekere’), Rick Ross (on Oh My Gosh Remix) and Funke
Akindele in character as Jenifa on ‘Poverty’.
The album is already being throttled into the public consciousness with a Clarence Peters short film (in the fashion of Falz & Simi’s Soldier) stretching her single ‘Home’ into a Nollywood type Cinderella love story (without the wicked sisters).
Even though ‘Home’ is a decent ditty, it still
smacks of unoriginality and contradictions. In one verse she is singing about
not being Flavour and at the intermission she is suddenly doing the exact same
thing Flavour did on his song, ‘Ada Ada’.
Kidjo is reminded of her 90s hit ‘Wombolo’ on
‘Shekere’. This could have been Yemi Alade’s chance to pitch her vocal skills against
an Amazon, instead she takes the easy way out and pales on an uninspired belated
Highlife cover of ‘Wombolo’.
There are the usual Yemi Alade type songs about
bragging (Give Dem), sexual innuendos (Vibe) and unconditional love (Lai Lai).
‘Remind You’ reminds us of the Yemi Alade of King
of Queens. She rode a mid-tempo R ‘n’ B beat on that love song with such grace.
But with the ease of lightning, she segued back into her actual mode, the low
to mid-tempo shuffling, rhythmic percussion of Afrobeats on the part playful, part plaintive, part propositioning
‘Poverty’ is likely to become that song which
appeals to the largest demographic and it is already being marketed in that
manner with a Kiswahili version. Mid-tempo and
riffing off some Onyeka Onwenu tendency, renouncing poverty is an
African affectation already and Ms. Alade mines it to full effect. Who knows,
this song may find its jaunty way into Pentecostal churches like Korede Bello’s
credit alert song, ‘Godwin’.
Yemi Alade goes off-kilter into Reggae mood to
deliver a song for kleptocrats in power. She rightly calls them CIA short for
‘Criminal In Agbada’ and riffs off Sound Sultan in way that would have made
Woman of Steel is that rare thing that reminds us
of Yemi Alade’s magic which she hasn’t used adequately in the past four years.