Darkovibes is one of Africa’s most talented and versatile artists. His ability to move between genres and effortlessly switch styles as the situation demands is both scary and brilliant at the same time.
But when he released his debut album, Kpalongo earlier in the year, emotions were mixed - especially for listeners outside of his home country of Ghana. Just a few months later, he returns with another album - or EP - titled The Cornerstone.
Upon listening to ‘The Cornerstone,’ one would be forgiven for asking the obvious question; why did he not just release this as his first project of 2020? They say lightning doesn’t strike twice but in this case, lightning struck like four times already. ‘The Cornerstone’ is brilliant, vibrant, colourful, impressive and experiential.
When the album dropped, the artist said, "The Cornerstone is one for my fans and is an attestation to my greatness, it is faith in action. When I look at where I came from and how far I’ve come, I just know I’m destined for great things.”
In all honesty, it shows in the music. He is both free and cocky, he is hungry and confident. He is raring to go, yet cocky enough to be methodical in diverse expression. The music feels like a product of what the world has seen in 2020. Its emotions are measured in doses and by what it conveys.
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This is DarkoVibes being himself - experimenting and excelling on a number of genres. If he reminds one of an artist who could also produce this effortlessly, it’s Burna Boy - but maybe to a lesser extent. The Ghanaian superstar becomes different people as he attacked the different genres on this album.
First off, ‘Strap’ sounds like Roddy Ricch’s ‘Tip Toe’ featuring A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie. On the beat, DarkoVibes sounds like Beenie Man in mutual body domination with a singing French Montana. ‘The Cornerstone’ is so good that what DarkoVibes is saying or not saying doesn’t matter.
Nonetheless, ‘Strap’ is a warning to detractors not to take Darko's gentility for stupidity - word to Wande Coal. ‘Pree We’ sounds like the product of intense cannabis consumption - that seems like the only reason a human being can repeat “Pree we” that intensely and that repeatedly.
Nonetheless, the song is a comment on how DarkoVibes is admired for his lifestyle by supposed competitors. ‘Close To You’ also sounds like something Roddy Ricch would appreciate - it has DaBaby-esque drums though. Here, DarkoVibes is a loverboy who uses RJZ to voice, “Let me be yours, close to you…”
The loverboy moments didn’t last. On ‘Problems’ featuring Sarkodie, DarkoVibes admits to drinking and smoking. He’s also 'about town' as admires a friend of his girlfriend’s. While that last sentence sounds wild on paper, the hook and Sarkodie’s verse put things in perspective.
The song sees DarkoVibes lament the real-life problems as it affects him and his relationships - especially with his mom. Sarkodie does admit he can’t do without the music and the fame though. DarkoVibes then appreciates and extols his mother.
‘Sierra Leone’ might be the best song on this EP. Its beat fuses Alternative with pop, Trap and Trippy instrumentation. Featuring a slowed down 80's disco organ playing in a staccato loop, the producer infuses the beat with a bass legato from the bridge to the hook. The song then becomes wholesome and polished from there on.
It’s just so good and this La Meme Gang member tears through this beat scary auto-tune backed ease as he laments about love. He wants to “Hug it out and talk it out…” but the woman doesn’t seem interested.
‘Lost Ones’ would have made a lot of sense as a final track on this EP though. The Trap song with Drill effects sees DarkoVibes lament the absence of a particular woman. The bass on that beat though…
‘Chicken Swing’ is a Trap song which discusses a handful of hedonistic topics while ‘Crazy People’ comes back to Ghanaian Afro-pop with the soul of lamba.
Welcome back, DarkoVibes. You never left, but welcome back. This is the album…
• 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
7.8 - Victory