Since his foretaste of limelight on Show Dem Camp’s smash hit “Feel Alright” which was preceded by his debut stellar appearance on the duo’s Victoria Island of Broken Dreams, the word on the street has been that the rap game has got itself some prodigy.
Four years down the hill, the talk about Poe is conflicted: perhaps rap was his hobby, not a vocation.
Poe has got stunning good looks, smooth Millineal swagger (lips licking and lush mustache complete with the hat) and clearly some trust fund money, so rhyming may not have been a priority.
But he kept doing steady cameos. He wrote one of the best rap verses about Lagos in recent times on Falz’s Chardonnay Music. While his own songs were not hard-hitting, he did a steady stream that ensured no one called him lazy.
Last year, he cut a deal with Mavin Records. This tricky decision was queried by many Hip-Hop purists who were wary about what flirting with popular music might do to Poe’s lyrical ingenuity. 20 months after inking the record deal, Poe has released his first album or mixtape, Talk About Poe (TAP).
The tracklist offers a wholesome 10 track, in similar fashion with the recent trend of doing 10 songs (see Kanye West’s June Productions and Chocolate City’s L.A.M.B project).
Starting with an acapella birthday song to Poe presumably by a chorus of OAPs, the album’s true opening is the Efya-assisted Voices, a song about his convictions as much as it is about his anxieties. He delivers three moving verses reflecting his struggles. At the song’s end, you know where his shoes pinch and can understand that his creative silence and staccato is not entirely due to ambivalence.
‘Double Homicide’ is a killer cipher song. Getting help from Ghost of Show Dem Camp, they rhyme on the edge of the fast-paced beat both doing exactly what the song is named for, a double homicide of verbal dexterity in which both rappers are evenly matched.
Sheyi Shay is ebullient on Red Light, taking charge of a chorus that nudges full throttle at the wake of a potential one-night stand. Poe brings his affectionate side forward, that reluctant lothario shtick typical of people who are beautiful and know it too.
One Step Closer, based on its beat, is a bubbling bedroom ballad, the kind of music that sets a woman on a 9 month long journey.
Whilst the chorus is soulful and punctuated by horns, Poe raps about easing out of a romantic relationship. It is not as elegant as say Notorious BIG’s One More Chance but there are some magical moments.
Tems helped to deepen love crossroads scenarios on the slurred dance-hall ditty, Falling. Poe, seemingly half-inspired, almost drops the ball here.
Mood has a syrupy drawl to it but it holds firm with the hook’s use of Nigerianspeak and it is a critical appraisal of labels within the music industry especially as it affects Poe.
Hello Goodbye has got that palmwine vibe about it. It may as well be a highlife-hip hop fusion. Sir Dauda lends it his signature touch. Like you guessed: it is also about love, on the cusp of break up. The album finishes strong with Revival twenty-nine minutes after it has begun.
This is a carefully curated and balanced but self-absorbed rap album gazing, perhaps, at Poe’s career need for a creative revival.