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ODUMODUBLVCK shares his truth on 'EZIOKWU'

As an album, 'Eziokwu' is a compilation that captures Odumodublvck's recent success in the mainstream.

A Pulse review of 'EZIOKWU' by Nigerian rapper ODUMODUBLVCK

At a time when the existence of Hip Hop in the commercial scene was being subjected to thorough scrutiny and cynicism, Odumodublvck emerged with a style that blends hip-hop with Nigerian indigenous groovy music. His entrance added excitement to the scene and with hip-hop missing a personality capable who sparking varying emotions from consumers, Odumodublvck's strong persona filled this void.

Since he scored his first mainstream song with the Zlatan-assisted 'Picanto', no rapper has charted more on the top 10 of TurnTable Charts than Odumodublvck. At the 2023 Headies Awards, he took home the prize for the Rookie of the Year and the Best Rap Single.

This mainstream success is captured in his latest project 'EZIOKWU' which he described as a Mixtape. Although a bulk of the project was made before his mainstream success, his rise means that the project takes on a level of commerciality that's not ordinarily associated with Mixtapes.

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Odumodublvck's style of Hip Hop straddles both boom-bap rap and the contemporary strains of the genre such as Trap and Drill music. With lyrics largely conveyed in Pidgin mixed with street slang and a delivery style that combines hard bars, Highlife melodic maneuvers, and a bit of aggression, Odumodublvck's music is different from what was obtainable in the hip-hop mainstream and it's this uniqueness that underscores his rise and also split opinions.

Even before scoring a career-altering hit record in 'Declan Rice' which brought him major co-signs from Afrobeats Mount Rushmore (Davido, Wizkid, Burna Boy, Olamide), Odumodublvck has been one of Nigerian Hip Hop's most consistent rappers in the last couple of years. With his name now a recurring theme in mainstream conversations, Odumodublvck is offering his talent to new consumers while taking along his Abuja base that rode for him in his early days.

On 'Eziokwu', Odumodublvck brilliantly delivers a variety of Hip Hop cuts smoothly codified with his unique artistry and vibrant personality.

"Eziokwu" which translates to "The truth" in English is Odumodublvck's attempt to share an undisputable proof of his artistry through an exploration of his experiences. For each song, Odumodublvck draws from different events in his life which he brilliantly brings to life through stellar penmanship and swaggering delivery.

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His state of mind (truth) can be summed by his career-altering single 'Declan Rice', a declaration of his decision to not kowtow to the conventional demands while emphasizing his desire to stay true to the style that brought him mass attention. The record captures his self-assuredness, his originality, his ability to deploy Pop culture, and his love for his community.

The album showcases parts of Odumodublvck before and after gaining mainstream success with both parts tied together through his compelling identity. Across the 14 tracks, he showcases his unique blend of rap, his fusion of Highlife melody, his originality, and his skillful deployment of Pop culture through catchy song name choices like 'Declan Rice', 'Kubolor', 'Picanto', and 'Saint Obi'.

With mainstream success comes fame and access which is showcased via Pop-leaning cuts like 'Firegun' featuring Fireboy, 'Blood on the Dance Floor' featuring Wale & Bloody Civilian, and Amarae's appearance on 'Kubolor', and 'Hammer Time'.

Aside from deciding to partner up with mainstream acts to cater to a newfound audience who need to be serviced through pop-leaning cuts, these records showcase his versatility.

While he's primarily known as a rapper, Odumodublvck bends melody just as finely as most Popstars can manage and he does this through an exploration of groovy Highlife music he calls "Okporoko" music. This fusion can be found (Okporoko) fusion in 'Hammer Time' a nod to his endorsement of the alcoholic beverage brand, 'Kubolor' his collaboration with Ghanaian star Amaerae, and in 'Adamma Beke' where he paints a lewd picture through infectious melody and detailed lines.

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In his element, Odumodublvk is a compelling rapper and lyricist and he displays this on songs like 'Shoot And Go Home', 'MC Oluomo', 'Declan Rice', 'Saint Obi' and 'Strippers Anthem'. While the tough-talking on these records is synonymous with rappers, they can also be easily reconciled with his personality which he has consistently displayed online through an unrestricted expression of his reality.

The undesirables he experienced on the streets are captured in his songs. Whether be his indulgence in sensual pleasure and psychedelics, his propensity to employ force as required or his admiration for underworld super profiles as captured in 'MC Oluomo', Odumodublvck is a man of great conviction and he doesn't shy from them.

He shows his convictions without fear of criticism or misinterpretation. He distinguishes himself by typing on Twitter (X) in all caps in what he describes as a declaration. He also prides himself as a home town hero by insisting that Abuja takes the larger portion of the praise for his success. A sentiment he emphasizes on the album by featuring Abuja-based artists (Bloody Civilian, Reeplay, Psycho YP) and working with his early producers while also electing to hold his listening party there.

Odumodublvck insists on telling his truth whether in art or through his personality. It's this truth delivered in contemporary rap cuts that come together to make up 'Eziokwu' which in turn answers the question as to what defines the current state of Nigerian hip-hop and what the future holds for the genre. Odumodublvck is domesticating contemporary rap through his infusion of home-found elements.

Odumodublvck's mainstream rise has been managed by Native Records of the Native brand which has closely knitted ties to the Nigerian Alternative community. This partnership has seen Odumodublvck explore more avant-garde (Alte) artistic representation. His cover art, visuals, and even collaborations with Santi and Amarae seem to be influenced by an Alte leaning. While the Alte leaning is a curious one, Odumodublvck's larger-than-life personality means it's not a distraction for his newly found mainstream audience.

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As an album, 'Eziokwu' is a compilation that captures Odumodublvck's recent success in the mainstream. While this is by no means his strongest body of work yet, the album needs to be examined for what it is; a compilation of tracks to service his early listeners as well as the newfound audience while preparing them for the beginning of his mainstream journey.

While the entire album would be under the mainstream microscope, particular songs will resonate more with different demographics. A song like 'Blood on the Dance Floor' will likely resonate with the mainstream for its Pop leanings. 'Kubolor' carries Highlife appeal that can cross over to the Ghanaian market, especially for the profile of the artist after whom the song is named. 'Saint Obi' is capable of delivering a rap hit song that charts a course for the future of the genre in Nigeria and emphasizes Odumodublvck's place in the scheme of things.

14 years ago, M.I Abaga described himself as Naija's rap messiah in his breakout single 'Safe'. It's this similar era-defining role that Odumodublvck is playing through an injection of much-needed excitement and complexity.

Is Odumodublvck the current Nigerian rap messiah?

Time will tell.

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Ratings: /10

• 0-1.9: Flop

• 2.0-3.9: Near fall

• 4.0-5.9: Average

• 6.0-7.9: Victory

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• 8.0-10: Champion

Pulse Rating: /10

Album Sequencing: 1.5/2

Songwriting, Themes, and Delivery: 1.5/2

Production: 1.6/2

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Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.5/2

Execution: 1.5/2

TOTAL - 7.7

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