Review of Seyi Shay’s Electric Package and Victoria Kimani’s Afropolitan EPs
It has been two years since Seyi Shay’s huge gaff on National television. In that inglorious televised moment, she confidently supplied a dangerous meaning to that minor musical acronym, E.P.
She has chosen to revisit this issue by naming her latest E.P after her infamous answer, ‘Electric Package’. At a teasing length of 22 minutes, this Extended Play album is comprised of six tracks with a glut of guest appearances, hence Seyi Shay appears on every song with a crutch.
It is DJ Spinall on the Ponmile-derived ‘One Love’; Flavour and DJ Consequence on the fast-paced Calypso-influenced onomatopoeic half-gem, ‘Alele’. Kiss Daniel and DJ Neptune help carry the Highlife tinged gospel-reminiscent ‘Surrender’.
King Promise and DJ Vision are present on the Onyeka Onwenu-sampling ‘All I Ever Wanted’. Vanessa Mdee and DJ Cuppy appear on the rather unremarkable ‘Love U Scatter’ while DJ Tira, Anatii and, hypeman of the moment, Slimcase appear on the lyrically lean but groovy ‘D Vibe’.
At the risk of diluting her essence, Seyi Shay braved a surfeit of guest appearances, perhaps in anticipation of a happy ending of club bangers and radio hits. But the strength of this album lies almost entirely on her vocal abilities, not on the ornamental if not nominal appearances of disc jockeys.
Rather than for each song to offer some incremental electric voltage worthy of an ‘Electric Package’, each song sits alone as an experiment. This E.P documents Seyi Shay’s competence within contemporary fusions and genre, without offering her that electrifying creative return since her 2015 debut LP, ‘Seyi or Shay’.
Meanwhile former Chocolate City’s First Lady, American-born, Kenyan-raised and Naija-loving Victoria Kimani is back with a new set of songs released as an E.P called Afropolitan. Bland title, if you ask me, but a place-holder since her tepid 2016 Safari album is totally in order. With seven songs lasting about 21 minutes, Kimani stands alone without vocal assists, as if to prove a point.
Afropolitan E.P is an energetic and groovy project couched in calypso and dancehall mediums. Take for instance ‘Wonka’, the first single. Somewhere after Grace Jones’ ‘Pull Up to The Bumper’ and J Capri’s ‘Pull Up to Mi Bumper’, Kimani reworks a 40-year-old sexually brazen metaphor within a collage of other acquired sounds like Mad Cobra’s 77 groovy ballad ‘Flex’ to update a sex anthem with a bizarre metaphor, Wonka.
Hints of Bunny Mac’s ‘My Sweety, My Sugar’ can be found on ‘My Sweetie’, a song dripping with shifting studio percussions and a passion for sexual healing. ‘Not For Sale’ is up-tempo and almost sounds original until the chorus leads up to T.O. K’s Caribbean monster hit, ‘Gal yuh a Lead’.
Calling the EP Afropolitan is not only bland, it is also ill-fitting. These songs, at best, preach sexual positivity within the ambit of meaningful heterosexual relationships. What has that got to do with the ‘woke’ sense of geographical fluidity of African migrants?
The shitload of curse words that Kimani registers into her songs to capture moments and moods of frustration and exasperation is also jarring.
That said, Afropolitan EP gets full marks for tenacity.