In 2016, perennial collaborators, Boogey and Paybac as ‘The Lost and Found’ released, Face Off and it was epic. On the title track, Nigeria had one of its most memorable lyrical sparring moments ever.
In 2018, both rappers released critically successful albums, The Biggest Tree by Paybac, and Niveau Nouveau by Boogey.
While we have already heard Falz’s Moral Instruction and The Clone Wars III: These Buhari Times by the brilliant Show Dem Camp, this might be the best of them all.
What both rappers were doing on their respective projects with the elusive Charlie Xtreme now makes sense. The album is a whole symbolism and a concept album on the perils of success in the music industry when you keep subscribing to its whims.
Here is why - but as you listen, take note of the portal, the box, the biggest tree, industry guy, Everest and moonbird;
1.) The Portal
On the face of it, this short story is a symbolism. Boogey and Paybac travel in a 'green benz' that symbolizes their journey as rappers.
The story also features ‘the box’ which represents success, ‘moonbird’ probably representing the music that binds them, and ‘industry guy’ for the criticism that constantly trails the rappers to make music a certain way, like any Nigerian rapper.
The car ‘teleporting’ to the top of ‘mount Everest’ seems to symbolize the narrator (as the average listener) who does not understand the rudiments of their journey, but only sees where they are.
But it’s quite interesting how Paybac’s The Biggest Tree was used to symbolize a platform and how ‘industry guy,’ also stands outside the door of The Biggest Tree with the ‘Moon bird’ from 'the box' in his hand.
'The Portal' sets the pace for this entire project. The songs just break down what it means, in relation to the album title, ‘Alternate Ending,’ and the album art which showcases the rappers considering something. On the final track, how this all comes together will become clearer.
Both acts jump into this track which opens up to pulsating, lowered out drums and triumphant strings before the snare snatched everything away with a firm grasp.
Paybac and Boogey vaunt themselves in different ways, with enviable cadences, multiple style switches and brilliant technique.
The track itself seems lost on a theme, but both artists seem to use this as a welcome track that makes us understand what they think of themselves. It’s super impressive with a central theme of anger that sends a clear message, ‘we ain’t here to play.’
3.) What They Said
Boogie opens up at his vindictive best, talking about people who criticized him. He defiantly tells them to piss off by delivering his bars heavy on indirect brags. Paybac is more tailored, his tone measured, but his message too, is clear; piss off. He talks about how he only listened to critics because he wanted love. Oh well…
The bass riffs on this beat will give you life.
For its style of production and how it follows ‘Implode,’ it seems the track was needless, but when you listen to its content, it makes sense. ‘Implode’ was the perfect precursor to it.
4.) Uwaka featuring Danladi
Theme: Defiance, Detachment
Again, it’s about the haters and overreaching critics on a track that sounds like a single. The heavy riff that accompanies Paybac’s rap is insane, and so are the drums and other strings that followed.
Danladi can be proud of the Hausa hook which basically says both rappers are ready to get the money and they don’t care what anybody says before the very memorable ‘UWAKA!’ which means, ‘your mother.’ It sums up the gamut of the song.
The mixing has been super-impressive so far and so has the rap – incredible! I do wonder if they could have merged the content on ‘What They Said’ and ‘Uwaka’ into one track with a beat switch like on ‘Sicko Mode,’ by Travis Scott and Drake.
5.) Hard II Kill
Theme: Frustration, Vengeance, Self-defence
Remember the ‘green Benz’ from the intro? My interpretation seems to have some credence with Boogey’s verse.
To understand this song, you might need to go back to track one ‘The Portal.’ It seems to chronicle their journey in the ‘green benz’ with the ‘moonbird,' while being chased by ‘Industry guy’.
This track seems a symbolism for The Lost and Found’s perception of harsh criticism, whom it comes from and how they deal with it (by being 'Hard to kill').
This is super-interesting, with the domineering trumpet/saxophone string, distorted syco guitar and the boom bap beat. Mon Lee was also brilliant on the hook. The production borrows heavily from Grace Jones’ ‘My Jamaican Guy.’
The bar-fest from 3:07 that chronicles their respective manifestos on how they will dish out the death they plan on unleashing is chilling. Jesus Christ!
This song also marks the end of braggadocio and death to detractors and the defiance. From here, the topics expand.
6.) Memories featuring LYn
Theme: Life, Time, Heartbreak, Human Anatomy
By far my favourite song on the album.
The rock-inspired production is mad – shout-out to SizzlePro. This beat feels like something off Lil Wayne’s Rebirth. Lyn is a gem from whom I hope to get a project before year’s end.
From here, the album enjoys a slight switch to some needed introspect and some relatable millennial-topics.
The theme of love here might seem cliché, but its beauty lies in the darkness of it all. It’s not just about heartbreak, it’s about how love can occasion a fugue state and amnesia as the brain’s self-imposed coping mechanism.
The detail – oh, the detail – is incredible.
7.) Hold Me Down featuring Aramide
Theme: Love, Discontent
This song illuminates ‘Memories.’ Now that the rappers have killed the detractors and are reigning supreme, Boogey raps that he never realized the loneliness that comes with achieving everything.
Everybody needs someone and the song just underlines how something is always the goal and satisfaction is a myth. Maybe that’s why some people say money is not enough. Topically, I do think with the way Boogey opened, ‘Hold Me Down’ it should have been before ‘Memories’ on the tracklist, but after ‘Shun Sir,’ - to be explained later.
Nonetheless, it’s understandable that the alte/afrobeats production to ‘Hold Me Down’ might have been awkward as a follow-up to the boom bap of ‘Hard II Kill.’
8.) Private Jet Conversations featuring Jazzz
Theme: Introspect, Evaluation
The introspect continues, but not on the topic of love. Considering the path we’ve been on, this track might seem hard to place, but it’s not.
It’s simply a Segway that aims to examine the journey so far, from the battle, survival to the yearning for love. It has the rappers considering where they are and where they desire to get to. It’s a thoughtful interlude that fuses the first part with what you are about to listen to on the next track.
However, it's wrongly placed on the track list.
I feel the friendly, yet fierce competition between the rappers. It’s evidenced in how they crafted solos that vaunt each other’s stage names and write bars around them to celebrate each other. I speculate that Paybac raps from Boogey’s perspective – utilizing his imagination of what he feels Boogey would say and how he feels Boogey would rap.
You can’t tell anyone how brilliant this album has been so far, they have to listen. However, I think Paybac should have rapped the hook, and not sang it. Not that his singing is bad, but this beat requires a rapped hook, in my opinion.
This beat shares striking similarities with ‘Seeds of Faith,’ track 11 on Paybac’s The Biggest Tree. On the central narrative, this track might have been better coming before ‘Hard II Kill.' That would have validated claims that detractors were being harsh and the homicide that happened on ‘Hard II Kill.’
The drum arrangement, man. SizzlePRO should be proud.
10.) Payback Time
This is simply another ‘Boogeyman,’ by Boogey. He raps from Paybac’s perspective or what he perceives it to be.
‘Payback Time’ is a play on words that continues to highlight the journey on the first five tracks of this album, and on the other part, it is payback for what Paybac did on ‘Boogeyman’ – friendly, fierce competition, no bad energy – on a song from Paybac’s perspective.
‘Payback Time’ is also slightly more introspective, it talks about a terrible 360 deal amongst other things. However, I think ‘Payback Time’ following ‘Boogeyman’ is impressive, but they should have come before ‘Hard II Kill,’ based on the central narrative.
11.) More To Reach/Everest featuring Maka
Theme: Discontent, Frustration
I like the piercing piano chords, and Maka’s vocals that start us off. The beat feels like a mix of 2Pac’s ‘Do For Love,’ and Kanye West’s ‘Wolves.’ Maka’s hook also borrows from ‘What You Won’t Do For Love’ by Bobby Caldwell, sampled on Pac’s ‘Do For Love.’
Lyrically, we’re back on the narrative, and it feels like this song should have been behind ‘Memories’ on the track list. It chronicles how one might have a lot and still crave more and it suits something that should have come after the success that ‘Hard II Kill’ promised upon slaying the proverbial giant detractors.
Some might attribute the topic on this song to greed, but it’s not that simple. Success breeds a void and more successes breed more voids, it’s just the human condition. In this case, it seems to be the frustration with finally conquering the critics and detractors (industry guy), only to now contend with need for fame and success.
As Paybac raps, they seem to have trapped that ‘moonbird’ (from ‘The Portal’) – this song is the ‘Mount Everest’ mentioned on ‘The Portal.’ Boogey is more straightforward with it, but Paybac seems timid about wanting that next thing.
The difference to ‘Hold Me Down’ is that, it’s not about love, but about another void asides love. It’s simply about the next level, which means ‘to blow.’
‘Once you got everything, everything don’t mean a thing.’
12.) Shun Sir featuring Monki Bznzz
Theme: Success, Braggadocio
Although it’s not clear as the transition is quite fumbled, but it seems ‘Shun Sir’ is when the ‘blow’ and the money have come.
The beat is a brilliant single-worthy funk/post-disco/boogie era sound.
I think this song should have come after ‘Hard II Kill.’
13.) Don’t Wake Me Up
Theme: Reality Check
This song simply talks about the perils of - wanting - success in music and having control of the music when the audience and market will always control what it deems worthy and what it doesn’t.
Thus, Paybac and Boogey have decided to close ‘The Portal’ which threatened to open them up to sadness and depression.
The song is a reality check that talent might not buy you happiness and if you’re not careful, you will either want other things due to success or simply keep bowing to other people’s demands - both will lead to unsavoury endings.
This is near flawless on the album.
After playing the album, what does the ‘Alternate Ending’ then symbolize?
The album title and the cover art, are a symbolism that aids the entire concept behind the album.
The album is a short film on the struggles of independent rappers like The Lost and Found who have dreams of what to do with their talent upon success, but are constantly subjected to harsh criticisms on how to make music and who to make music for.
It the showcases them as having the talent, fighting the criticism to get a following with the music, only to then understand that even that following will never be enough. After that, you will crave love, crave to ‘blow’ and so forth, while still battling the industry, critics and listeners who will forever hold the aces on what sells and what does not – a lost cause.
So, instead of constantly fighting a lost cause, the rappers have decided to be themselves, throw away the avenue that constantly opens them to these possibilities of constantly losing and the box commentators and the audience wants to put them in.
‘The Portal’ is the entire story, other songs just serve to tell it better.
It's worth remembering that Paybac’s album, The Biggest Tree addressed depression amongst African kids. On that album, Paybac sang that he is “dancing with my (his) demons, but I’ll (he’ll) be fine.”
Back to ‘The Portal,’ in the moment the rappers, SizzlePRO, Black Intelligence and Charlie X entered the door on The Biggest Tree by constantly running, they hit depression by constantly fighting ‘industry guy’ who still ends up holding the ‘moonbird’ (the music).
On songs like ‘Hard II Kill’ they fight back and win, but that win leads to other needs and problems. Despite the success and owning the ‘moonbird,’ on 'Shun Sir,' Paybac raps that his reality check is spending his days with reefer and wine on ‘Don’t Wake Me Up.’
'’Alternate Ending’ to me, means that you might plan in the industry, but if you don’t close ‘The Portal’ like Paybac and Boogie did, the ending you planned will never come.
It’s not bad, but I think with what they were trying to achieve, this track list might have been better;
What They Said
Hard II Kill
Private Jet Conversations
Hold Me Down
Move To Reach/Everest
Don’t Wake Me Up
• 0-2: Flop
• 2.1-4.0: Near fall
• 4.1-6.0: Average
• 6.1-8: Victory
• 8.1-10: Champion
Themes and Topics: 2.0
Tracklist, Cohesion and Execution: 1.3
9.2 - Champion