Album -Blessed ForeverArtist - A-QRecord Label - Hustle Ink Entertainment (2017)Duration - 43 minutes

In the centre of Nigerian Hip hop today, bragging is fading its way out of the scene, and emotional lyricism is in. It offers a more nerdy and expansive music motif, which many rappers are tapping into to create powerful records. Phyno, a man known for his braggadocio, packed “The Playmaker” full with it, and Olamide’s “The Glory,” dabble into it on the crucial single ‘Letter to Milli’. Elsewhere, you can find many others seeking it out and making music to tug at the heartstrings.

Here comes A-Q, the prolific rapper who has been on the path to re-invention since 2016, since he dropped “Rose.” The project marked a turnaround in A-Q’s music, moving him from a traditional Hip hop role to new-age experimentation and song writing.

“Blessed Forever” continues that journey. It’s an enriching ride through A-Q’s mind, as he whips up strong imagery and storytelling to carry gigantic beats. Everything is near-perfect here.

Musically, this album draws on a diverse palette. Opener and title track ‘Blessed forever’ strikes a choral opening, that leads into vibey ‘No problem’. ‘Criminality’ bites off Fela Kuti’s Afrobeat. It's interacting rhythm uses a sound so pure and Nigerian to drive home the fallibility in our characters. But where he takes the medals home for experimentation is on ‘Lekki Express Way’, which features gender-bending creative, Wavy The Creator. They cruise with you along Lagos Islands, in drop-top cars, and electro-pop.

AS+AS (Genotype) addresses the weighty matter of love doomed by genetics. The mood from the sombre storytelling is matched by ‘Made by Voice only’, which features excellent vocalists Music Mash Group.

It’s an indiscriminating album gelled together by A-Q’s emotionally frank lyrics, which reveal a complex persona: He’s the guy with a huge ego, which isn’t too big to admit to his personal limitations. On ‘Omo Iko’ and ‘Jazzman’, he’s a stereotypical big pumping rapper, but you could still touch at his soft centre on ‘Home’ and ‘Change one, change everything’.

It is this complexity which feeds A-Q’s artistry and drives our love for his music.

Rating: 4.5/5


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