When Pulse Senior Editor, Steve Dede heard, ‘Rugged You’ by Barzini featuring Dr. Barz, he said, “Omo, this is moshpit music that you should rage to.” He was absolutely right.
Earlier in 2020, Barzini had released Beloved Vol. 1, an Afro-pop/Afro&B body of work that contained ‘Ulo Upam,’ which is one of the best records Nigeria has seen in 2020. That was his first body of work since In Spirit, which he released with his former group mate, Mars - now known as Kinsolo.
‘In Spirit’ came after Barzini's Aboriginal stint alongside rapper, Eclipse Nkasi. On ‘Mr. Nwobodo,’ Barzini discusses how he had to overcome self-doubt with words of encouragement from a friend before landing that record deal. This was after he released ‘Mumu Button’ in 2011.
He also reminisces about the struggle days at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka where he underwent his tertiary education. Ambition kept him going and now he’s here. Born Nwobodo David, the song is a dedication to self. In third person he asks himself, “Mr. Nwobody, how are you not fazed by anything…”
‘Mr. Nwobodo’ is the third track on Beloved Vol. 2 (The King's Opening) EP, which Barzini released on November 20, 2020 as a follow-up to ‘Beloved Vol. 1.’ The record documents a myriad of topics; Barzini’s journey to this point, street culture, love, sex, life and more.
The sound is expansive, but it’s most rooted in Hip-Hop with Reggae influences. The 8-track EP was led by the moshpit music, ‘Rugged You’ featuring Dr. Barz.
The record documents the Nigerian street culture and parts of the Nigerian fraternity lingo. Sandwiched between the song was a little monologue that saw Dr. Barz discuss the realities of growing up in Port Harcourt. The percussion that births the song is also similar to the one that birthed ‘No Okada’ off Mars and Barzini’s EP, ‘In Spirit.’
It is also marked by a powerful and catchy rapped hook, delivered in pidgin. As the opener to ‘Beloved Vol. 1’ is ‘God Not King’ features talented Emcee, Lucy Q.
On the hook, Barzini brazenly raps, “I can’t settle for a king, when I know I’ll be a God…” The album opens to gusto, bravado and hard-knocking Hip-Hop suited to a moshpit, before an intimate crowd. By ‘Mr. Nwobodo,’ the intensity drops as Barzini tells his come-up story.
After a few tracks, hard-knocking Hip-Hop and resonant hook returns on ‘Mean’ production. But in between those hard tracks are softer records that speak more to life and love.
‘Killing Goat’ features Paybac in a chronicle of love and sex. They sing and rap attractively on a Trap percussion. The hook goes, “Killing goat, looking nyash, open mouth…” That seems to signify the power of shock value and appreciation in love.
If Bryson Tiller and 6lack were Nigerian and they decided to make a very Nigerianized Trap record with strong Hip-Hop roots and a rebellious style about love, it would sound like ‘Killing Goat.’ Paybac raps, "Babe you're too sweet, I nor fit puff puff pass..."
‘Jakpa’ follows suit in 'love town,' but instead of the dreamy love on ‘Killing Goat,’ Barzini is benevolent in his emotional unavailability. After a woman confesses her love to a man, he tells her to ‘Jakpa’ and not fall in love with him.
The Afro-swing record, ‘King and Queen’ continues the trend of the more laidback music. Barzini says he’s balling like Sanchez, but that might not be a good analogy. Sanchez flopped at Manchester United. Delivered in mostly patois, ‘King and Queen’ is a lifestyle record.
In finality, Barzini creates a wedding-suited Highlife record on ‘Beautiful Ones.’ His story seems true and organic - the honesty can be felt in his detail. He even raps that the quality of his life has improved since he met her.
While he admits the cliche saying, “The beautiful ones are yet to be born,” he declares that, “But I have one here with me…” The rare gem he’s discovered is whom he makes the record for.
While this EP is another great one from Barzini as he stakes a late claim for inclusion in year-end lists, the title ‘Beloved Vol. 2 [The King’s Opening]’ doesn’t appropriately reflect the music. In equal measure, the intensity of the opening two tracks was both a blessing and curse for this EP.
It still contains impressive music with rounded, well-executed topics, beautiful hooks and great stories, but it needed that intensity those tracks one or two more times.
The average music listener who clicks play on this EP is likely to subconsciously expect that the EP goes back to that hard-knocking Hip-Hop in the opening two tracks of the EP. That never quite happens and in a way, it speaks to an imbalance for the EP. ‘Mean’ tries and it’s a good track, but it’s not quite on that level of electricity.
Possibly, that expectation might not have been a thing if Barzini had separated those two opening tracks over the course of the album instead of letting them launch the experience in back-to-back fashion. Equally, ‘Mean’ should have closed the EP out, not ‘Beautiful Ones.’
Barzini should launch a record label and A&R/Executive Produce albums for talented artists. That should be his long-term future - the man knows music.
On his own song, ‘Killing Goat,’ he left the floor to Paybac and jumped on the hook. While that required deserved respect for Paybac, it also reflects a deeper understanding of what the music needs and what it doesn’t need.
• 0-1.9: Flop
• 2.0-3.9: Near fall
• 4.0-5.9: Average
• 6.0-7.9: Victory
• 8.0-10: Champion
Pulse Rating: /10
Album Sequencing: 1.5/2
Songwriting and Themes: 1.7/2
Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.5/2
7.5 - Victory