Ambitious, confident and commendable, Praiz takes the biggest risk of his career and pulls it off.
Pop is the most viable genre of music in Nigeria. And with the fact that comes the stark reality that non-pop acts will one time or the other try their hands on the genre of music for the sake of relevance and economic reasons too.
Praiz has gone the pop route after establishing himself as one of the leading male vocalists and soul singers in the country. While his introductory pop single 'Oshe' featuring Awilo Longomba might have been a little harsh for his core fanbase, the subsequent single 'Mercy' went down a whole lot better.
Splitting his music tastes into two separate discs 'Rich & Famous', Praiz tends to his pop sensibilities on 'Famous'. Made up of twelve tracks, Praiz turns into a full blown pop act.
For someone with a background in soul, 'Famous' is a commendable effort from the vocalist. Heavy on collaborations, Praiz attempts to be a part of Nigeria's clustered world. Some of the songs on the LP, make a strong case for him to be an active member of this world.
The sweet 'I No Use You Play' featuring Shaydee (who is one of the few commendable pop acts in Nigeria) is the strongest cut on the album. Smooth, rhythmic, and pushed by two acts who can really sing, 'I No Use You Play' is Praiz's most authentic pop song so far. It's a sexy song that doesn't imbibe the lewd character of most Nigerian pop songs.
Of course 'Rich' has the obligatory pop appearance of Wizkid. On the album's opener 'Sisi' the 'Ojuelegba' singer gives off a commendable appearance. The lines are typical Wizzy "Don't leave me hanging (o sisi). Your body banging (o sisi). Your body calling (o sisi)" , but with a mid-tempo groovy beat and Praiz's steady and soulful voice, the song is slightly above the numerous cuts that has Wizkid on them just for collabo sake. Another commendable collaboration is 'Harder' featuring Patoranking.
As a pop act, one must be 'adjustable'. On 'For You' featuring Seyi Shay, the singer delivers the chorus in Yoruba. While his delivery is a bit off, the song is a strong song on the project. It's obvious that pop isn't Praiz's most comfortable music genre, but he makes conscious efforts to make it work (which he does) while not totally abandoning his favourite style of singing.
Sadly Praiz's collaboration Iyanya (who abandoned R&B for pop) 'Pere' doesn't come out as well as other tracks on the album.
On 'Rich', Praiz takes a slight detour on 'Pysical Something' a conscious song where he features fellow soul mate Bez, and the veteran Sound Sultan. Naturally this song should be found in 'Rich', but the song's construction which is a bold attempt at making a conscious song cross over into mainstream territory, makes it eventually suited for 'Famous'.
Another divergent song on the album is the Hip Hop track 'Jalabia' featuring Skales, Morell, Iceberg Slim and King. Based on a quirky crunk beat, the word smiths do their thing. Praiz's strategy of putting a song like this helps the album avoid being a one dimensional pop albums that has the same tempo, no theme or concept.
All in all, 'Famous' can be described as the confident steps of a man in a new terrain. Although there are signs of shaky feet on the LP, 'Famous' sounds like the work of a singer getting comfortable in his new environment. It shows promise from an act who will hopefully blend both genres perfectly.
Rating - 3.5
3-Worth Checking Out