Brother Skales is the never say never guy, but you already know this if you copped his sophomore album. With clockwork accuracy and impressive creative flair, the rapper-turned-singer has come upon us with a third album in four years, a rarity in Nigerian’s mainstream music industry where albums have become an archaic construct.
He calls his latest LP, Mr Love, and if any similarities could be drawn to American East Coast’s rap mogul Diddy’s new moniker, it will be rested once you see the album cover where Skales sits gingerly on a couch with his middle-aged mother. Their poses are telling; Skales seems possessed by vainglory whilst his mother is circumspect and world-weary.
This review is not entirely about Skale’s album covers but it is worthy of note that his mother is a new inclusion. One will imagine that by calling his album Mr Love, Skales is giving a nod at heterosexual love with an Oedipal core.
One minute short of an hour, Mr Love, enjoys the company of guest artistes and producers—Chopstix, Echo, Pimp, T.U.C, Egarboi and Princeton, Tiwa Savage, Cassper Nyovest, Phyno, Sarkodie, Vanessa Mdee, Aramide, Teni, Harmonize, Mr Vegas, Saeon, Jody, Afro B and Neza—that are currently the toast of the world, Africa or Nigeria in that order. Skales stands alone on three songs only. The album spools as a medley of dance songs, thumping with self-absorbed percussion propelled by Skales’s tenacious vocals.
Skales might have been magical if only he was soulful. What he lacks in depth, he makes for in daring. His major arsenal is his ability to make ditty. His song-writing has an improvisational edge with a spontaneous spine but his themes, if anything, have only shrunken with time.
His themes could be called his obsessions. His hunger for money, fame and success is ravenous enough but his consideration of their benefits is the icing on his avarice. Every moment of song for Skales seems identical: the booth sets him up in a party mood, that crucial moment of epiphany when he discovers, presumably from his fan following, that he has crossed over fully from competent rapper to accomplished singer. Almost every song he has written in his three albums is a vote of thanks to this moment.
Suddenly his dreams and fantasies have come to pass. His red cup has been filled with Hennessy XO. His arms have been hoisted by two video vixens with Bantu buttocks. His lips have known an exquisite strain of his beloved herb. His phone is beeping with credit alerts.
The fact that this narrative continues to bother all his songs baffles. Perhaps it is an effusive case of singing it until it becomes real. This is the only way one can explain why, in three LP albums, Skales’ trajectory as a musician hasn’t moved a notch. Beyond the lack of growth, there is neither formal inventions nor innovations nor interventions; it is the unadorned percussion of dancehall medleys for fleeting low moments at parties for women with low waists to serenade their admirers and lovers.
This is what Mr Love is all about and what it really shouldn’t be about.