As the songs begin to waft through the air, you could almost taste the richness that comes from recording live. And in that moment I understood what this album does to you.
There’s just very few singers that can measure up to the artistry and performance of Bez Idakula.
From the 2011 “Super Sun” album down to the singles that have filtered through in anticipation of his sophomore. I have consumed 'You Suppose Know', ‘There’s a fire’, and ‘My Baby’, which all gave me teases of his newfound direction, but not enough to satiate the hunger that existed after I consumed his fire debut.
“Super Sun”, his debut album was a success. Featuring the tracks ‘Super Sun’, ‘Zuciya Daya’, ‘Stop Pretending’, and ‘Say’. The Boston Globe placed it at number 3 on its list of World music’s top albums of 2011, calling Bez a "superb alternative-soul singer". Connect Nigeria called it "unusual and just a perfect blend for a debut album".
Now he has another one out, and by the heavens, I was invited to come through for a private listening in Victoria Island.
Bez is a woke artiste, and I expected to be swamped by it. You know all of those creative artistes who go a step further than the mundane to harness ideas and influences that they fuse to create art. The product is usually an elevated piece of history that is both a gem and a gift that keeps on giving. For Bez his artistry on this one was sparked from a very impressive stroke of thought, and inspired first from a poetry gathering.
“So I went for a poetry gathering, and somebody said the white people come, they take our art, and then they create something amazing from it.” Bez told me, as we sat before the album listening. “That struck me. So I said, why don’t I go back to my village, listen to the local music being played, and then sample that music. Then put the music into what I normally would create.”
Bez later shared the inspiration with Cobhams Asuquo, his creator in chief, and together, they travelled to Karu, a quiet village on the outskirts of Abuja, where they gathered the best local instrumentalists for a three-hour session of pure magic. The sounds were taken across the Atlantic Ocean, to New York for recording with a band, and then on to Houston (Texas), and then to Nashville (Tennessee), where the guitars, horns, and finishing percussive touches were applied.
Bez has grown since the release of his debut album. He is now married to Bolatito Idakula, and they both have a son. It is this relationship with Bolatito and the courtship that they experienced and the memories that they created that formed the skeletal theme for this album. Bez took his honest experiences, and earnestly recreated them.
“Every story on the album was inspired by something that happened in real life, for me or for someone else.” Bez was candid about it. “I wrote the album before I got married, so most of the inspiration was gotten from my relationship when I was dating my wife at the point. The ups and downs of my relationship, what I experienced…most of it is what is in there.”
Today we sat in Lagos, with the final product of that creative and exhausting process about to play. Bez’s demeanor was one of resigned happiness. He had put his best foot forward in creating the sound, and there’s just nothing that can faze him. Cobhams, his co-creator, was also present, playing host on the night as the songs came on.
As the songs begin to waft through the air, you could almost taste the richness that comes from recording live. Each element of the album serenaded the room, as listeners drawn from a crowd comprised of a select group of musicians, pressmen, friends and family listened.
Adekunle Gold was my seatmate for the evening, as we engaged in chatter about his career, his “Gold” album. But our discussion was cut short by the opening of the single ‘Eternity’, a song upon which the sample of Karu music showed up early.
“This song has destroyed me,” Adekunle exclaimed and rolled over his chair. A look of surprise and happiness clinging on to face. I felt the same way, but it was too profound for me to join in rolling over my seat. And so I sat in silence and enjoyed the music.
And in that moment I understood what this album does to you. It destroys you from the inside. All of your prejudices towards the alternative sounds are washed away and you are ushered back into a new realm of understanding and enjoyment.
And then I rolled over my chair too. Destroyed beyond redemption.
The “Gbagyi Child” album is exclusive to MTN Music Plus, but it will be available in physical stores nationwide and also hits global digital stores on December 10, 2016.