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ALBUM REVIEW: Illgod and Timi Kei create one of the best rap albums of 2019 with 'Soulsoup'

The album is so good, weaknesses become lost in its brilliance.

Album art for 'Soulsoup' by Illgod and Timi Kei. (Dell Music)

Word on the street says Timi Kei was going to be the hottest rapper out South-South Nigeria before he took a step back for reasons personal to him. But now, they're both back. 

A few weeks before the release of this album, Illgod told Pulse about his struggle with writer's block. It hampered his ability to create music of which he's truly proud. But if he Soulsoup must be something the finicky producer is proud of. 

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Also there's no one better to release the music with than the socially and religiously aware and fellow Port Harcourt boy, Timi Kei.

Speaking to Urban Central, the pair said 'Throbbin' was the first song made. Then, 'Respiration' came after 'Throbbin.' 'You Can,' 'I Dunno,' 'Better Days,' and 'Coming Home' then came after 'Respiration.'

Illgod handled the production and Timi Kei is the rapper. The production is very 90's Hip-Hop-esque and is heavy on soul and old Hip-Hop samples.

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Thematically, one thing is central to the Timi Kei's lyrics and that is his Christian faith. Bible verses and narratives interwoven into his lyrics and metaphors. 

With the Christian undertones, Timi Kei addresses introspective topics of struggles, romance, pressures, drug use, and other issues relevant to life. 

Every topic addressed on every song is heightened by Timi Kei's lyricism which incorporates an impressive rhyme scheme, and deft use of metaphors and symbolism. These tools aid the storytelling and illuminate ideas. 

However, the symbolisms and metaphors are too complex that most of them could elude the listener. Sometimes, the idea gets lost in the rhyme schemes and metaphors. 

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For example, the focus of 'Soulsoul Pt. II' - about a girl abusing drugs as a coping mechanism -only comes alive after 1:00. Sometimes, we creatives need to understand the concept of simplicity. 

We create for an audience. While poetry prides itself on symbolism and complex figures of speech that need to be deciphered, poetry is read - that is easier than listening and trying to process what is being said. 

The time to go on lyrical gymnastics should not be conflated with a time for storytelling. While they can coexist, storytelling should not be superseded by lyrical exercises, storytelling should be aided by lyricism and deft rhyme schemes. 

As much as the music is about the rapper's gift, it is for the audience. Regardless, this album showcases Timi Kei as one of the best rappers in Nigeria. 

However, the complex rhymes and lyrical weird flex that warps the idea of 'Soulsoup Pt. II' elevates the 'I Dunno.' The song documents life's struggles, doubt and the hustle, but Timi Kei's delivery almost made it seem like a script for an Alfonso Cuaron movie. 

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At its best, 'I Dunno' felt like a Kendrick Lamar song with layers upon layers of things to unfold. The best song on the album is 'Respiration.' It exemplifies everything good about rap music. 

The sheaths of fundamental Hip-Hop permeate the soul of 'Respiration' with evocative lines like, "Who do know that can control a flow this potent? Holy Moses..." That's just rude!

Another totally impressive song is 'Coming Home.' While again, the central theme of confusion and a life going astray saved by faith is overshadowed by lyrical exercises, you cannot but rate the song. 

While I played this album for the fourth time, it was clear that it will have different perceptions from everybody. Some will break down it's lyrical content, while some will just enjoy the flow, production and delivery and go away. 

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Hip-Hop heads might see that as a minus, but it's not. It is a win that implies that the album has something for everybody. 

'The Word' will blow your mind with the resignation to the power of theism. It is follows an unashamed Timi Kei owning his faith. 'Better Days' is another brilliant song that documents the effect of change after the dust settles.

The album has its weaknesses, but its strengths are autocratic, making the effects of those weaknesses too momentary - not profound. 

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On the track list, one considers if the album would have been better had the first person narratives made up the second part of the album, while the first part consists of the second person stories. 

One also wonders if 'Smoke A Joint' could have been the album opener, rather than a final track. Nonetheless, at the same time, one threads carefully because this album feels like one with a track list capable of being arranged in three different and equally brilliant ways. 

There is also the problem of the slight uniformity of topics. Topical diversity is always a plus in rap music. Although brilliant, there's also a uniformity of sounds which might make limit the reach of this album to only a section of Hip-Hop lovers.

Regardless of weaknesses, this album has potential to age really well. 

Ratings: /10

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•      0-1.9: Flop

•      2.0-3.9: Near fall

•      4.0-5.9: Average

•      6.0-7.9: Victory

•      8.0-10: Champion

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Pulse Rating: /10

Tracklist: 1.8/2

Lyricism, Themes and Topics: 1.4/2

Production: 1.5/2

Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.5/2

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Execution: 1.5/2

Total:

7.7 - Victory

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