It has been a long haul for Mayorkun since Eleko, his soul-stirring, prayer-invoking, ancestor-inviting, Nollywood-inspired, bluff-rebuffing and catapult-propelled breakthrough song.
And, by his own ratings, owning a Porsche is still further down that road.
Three good years after his break-out and hooking up with the most visible, if not productive, crew of the hour, DMW, his career trajectory has seen him scoring one hit after the other. Simply saying, every now and then, there is a newish Mayorkun song stirring our party-mood consciousness.
To make the fire sizzle is, of course, a different matter entirely. Cue in the debut album, which he has ambitiously called The Mayor of Lagos.
Such tomfoolery, you will say, especially if you know the true Mayor of Lagos, the ebullient writer/prodigy Toni Kan. But we know Mr Kan’s heart is large enough to lend his moniker to a ‘son’ for his album title.
Calling his album Mayor of Lagos does Mayorkun a bit of a disservice. It gives the album a kind of forthrightness which is a shortcoming. Mayorkun should have called this LP, The Mayor of Babes. Or better still, The Mayor of Lagos Babes. Either way, babes should be the operational word, not mayor.
The album begins with ‘Feelings’ where he attempts to articulate his aspirations and efforts towards breakthrough whilst recruiting the comforting voice of his mother, the scandal-free veteran Nollywood actor Toyin Adéwálé. This is a trite trope but if you were expecting ground-breaking or snide surprises, Mayorkun, unlike Lagos, will disappoint.
The album then lapses into full mode. An equivalent of Freud’s genital psychosexual tenure. Mayorkun serenades a female lover or would-be with masterful phrasing on ‘Tire’. Bragging comes in handy. Not necessarily 30 Billion but 30 acres. The operational word again is 30, not Billion or Acres.
The Kiddominant-produced ‘Fantasy’ tries to be ambidextrous like most of Mayorkun’s ditties. He is often trying to articulate two or more things in as many ways he finds trendy. On the one hand, he is pushing home his mission to make money, but then, there is dance, promenade and excessive spending or promise of same. On the other hand, the song’s verses vacillate between Twi phrasings, Igbo brags and Yoruba vivacity. The overarching adjective should be exuberant, if not hyperkinetic.
As with most first albums in the Nigerian pop space, Mayorkun strings together his singles, carefully blending novel and neutered songs. There is a variety of producers on the roster but Kiddominant easily claims dominance. Featured artists are strategic, a rarity, if common practices are anything to go by.
On ‘Oshepete’, D’Banj sounds anachronistic, wielding his harmonica and hubba hubba lyrics, like we were back in 2003 when Tongolo was still a thing. The song thrives on the hook’s reference of a Fela saying that is not popular. Patoranking doesn’t pull rank on the dancehall-derived ‘Mofo’, even if Sarkodie pilfers from Fifty Cent on the melodious and vulnerable ‘Jonze Me’.
If the album seems to sit comfortably with the notion of finding a lady’s affection, ‘Jonze Me’ and ‘Drama Queen’ assure you that Mayorkun, in spite of his protest, is equally intrigued by the unpredictability of women with questionable virtues. This, notwithstanding, ‘Drama Queen’ stands apart as his attempt at making a musical, fusing jazz and a cabaret mood within decent song-writing, employing the pun to punish the enigmatic Olosho.
Mayorkun is not a half-bad song writer, his ability to use pun and order street-relevant and humorous rhyme helps us to wade through the blind spots of his lyrics. What he lacks in writing songs, he makes for with enthusiasm and ability to sing melodies. He understands how to turn an ordinary line into an ear-worm.
The Mayor of Lagos is a worthy young man’s sonic articulation of Lagos life.