It’s 12 am on November 22, 2019, #AGoodTime is the number one trending topic. Anticipation is built like muscles and flesh on a bouncer. Nigerian superstar and new father, Davido has finally released his anticipated 17-track sophomore album, A Good Time.
A moment later, ‘Animashaun’ started trending and so did Yonda. In case you didn't know, ‘Animashaun’ is the last song on the album. Davido took over social media and so did his music. In that moment, the weird trajectory of Davido’s career took centre stage in my mind - the man is now a 10-year veteran, yet this is only his second album.
While it underlines Davido's brilliance and strategic staying power as an artist, it also puts into question the material nature or otherwise of an album in Nigerian music. This album is the follow-up to Davido’s debut, Omo Baba Olowo which was released way back in 2012. Although Davido released the 6-track EP, Son of Mercy in 2016, it’s not an album.
Since A Good Time dropped, reactions have come from two extreme ends of a spectrum. Most people have employed superlatives to describe the album - it's either the best thing since Elisha Abbo got dragged on social media or the worst thing since Buhari’s election. But now, here is a review of the album;
Thought and Execution
Let’s get one thing straight; most Nigerian artists are not good at making albums. They treat albums like they treat singles. They lack vision and the ability to drop cohesive projects on sound and style to drive an enjoyable experience. Unsurprisingly, Davido does not belong in that class. On this album he finds balance and cohesion; production feels like a uniform without sounding monotonous.
For this album, it feels like 17 songs have been picked from a bunch of recorded songs. It also feels like a lot of time and effort went into this album. More importantly, the album confirms what some people already know, Davido is a 'music person.'
He understands music and he also has vision to properly execute his vision. Topically, he explores love, wealth, the good life, vanity, success, gratitude, detraction and other issues that ordinarily affect a millennial.
Davido’s A&Rs also deserve praise. They understood exactly what they wanted, so they got a team of appropriate producers and songwriters together to aid their collective vision. But sadly, as vivid as the execution of this palpable vision feels, Davido and his A&R kind of got caught in a one-track mind.
The songs are good and cohesive. But then, asides the already released singles, ‘Company,’ and ‘Green Light Riddim,’ the album significantly lacks groundbreaking songs and shock value that accompanies exceptional albums. This writer’s fears on ‘Risky’ also got confirmed - it’s an album track and never a single.
Songwriting on A Good Time is also commendable and substantiated. But then, production which is the best part of the album - the main reason for its cohesion - is also the primary reason why it lacks groundbreaking songs. It looks like Davido and his team got caught in crafting a cohesive project that they forgot to balance it with groundbreaking sounds.
Here is why;
The album opens up to ‘Intro’ and it sets the sonic tone for the entire experience. The beat is lo-fi and mellow, while riddled with infectious melodies. Davido excellently kills that second verse. What follows is ‘1 Milli,’ a good, but forgettable song that could yet grow. It also feels like one of those 2018 songs that Davido and Peruzzi consistently made.
Even though the songwriting is good and Davido flows, it feels like a sonic cliche. ‘Check Am’ opens with a looped 80’s woozy guitar and acoustic chords. The percussion is good just as the drum. Although it’s markedly faster, it’s cut from the same cloth as the first two tracks - cohesive.
At that point, it’s still not a problem and neither is it on the more dance-worthy ‘Disturbance.’ The song feels cut from the mid-2010s and it’s become a fan-favourite, however this writer thinks it’s average, at best. Topically, it documents a man’s attempts ‘toast’ a reluctant woman. ‘If’ is a 2017 hit that continues that cohesion.
The weaknesses begin to reveal themselves on the R&B-infused gbedu ‘D&G’ which features Summer Walker. The song is really good and those London On The Track-produced guitar chords are beautiful. But on a 17-track album, it’s around track six that you start getting antsy and expectant of something mind-blowing, but it never quite came.
Make no mistake, the songs are not even remotely bad, they just lack that mind-blowing trait. ‘Get To You’ is an R&B song that feels cut from 90’s South Africa and it will have its fans, but for most people, it’s likely to be very forgettable. Then, ‘Risky’ confirms this writer’s suspicion all along - it’s a really good song, but it should not have been a single.
‘Sweet In The Middle’ is such a well-produced song that merges R&B with afrobeats percussion of the shepeteri kind. It’s the kind of afrobeats that the US can like. Zlatan and Wurld deliver, but Naira Marley fell below his usual standards. While the song promised so much, it only delivered on 50% of that promise.
Then comes a reworked version of ‘Fall.’ The production now includes some kind of harmonica in the opening 20 seconds. It also feels like the song got remastered. ‘Green Light Riddim’ continues the cohesion in ‘good time,’ and oh, it’s so good. If this writer had his way, he would have cut ‘Sweet In The Middle’ and retained ‘Green Light Riddim.’
Yes, the draw of Naira Marley and Zlatan on a song is huge, but the song feels interchangeable with ‘Green Light Riddim’ and the latter is much better. By any account, ‘Big Picture’ is a really forgettable song.
‘One Thing’ deftly samples T-Pain’s ‘I’m Sprung’ with a dancehall essence. Oh, this producer is good - he’s so good. The dig at Instablog9ja and Nigerian media is so hilarious. In the conversation of this album, ‘Assurance’ is topically good, but it shouldn’t have made this album. ‘Blow My Mind’ is still as good as the first time this writer played it.
‘Company’ is a lesson in good songwriting, flows, cadences and production - what a song! For this writer, he understands why people loves ‘Animashaun.’ It’s because of Yonda's delivery, “Animashaun, ofe ni igbala, gb’oro oluwa. Wa agbala itura…” Church topics resonate with Nigerians - it’s blown people like Qdot and Alfa Sule.
Then, Yonda delivered it in Yoruba for extra attraction.
Davido finds a sound. Like Burna Boy on African Giant, you realize that there was a sonic cohesion with his singles all along - that’s the hallmark of a great music maker. But asides singles and unlike African Giant, and other exceptional albums, it lacks the presence of multiple groundbreaking and mind-blowing songs. The album got stuck in cohesion.
While some people won’t notice, the weaknesses of this album might have been made obvious by its length. Songs like ‘Assurance,’ ‘Sweet In The Middle’ ‘Get To You’ and feel like fillers ‘Sweet In The Middle’ might have been better as a bonus.
Equally, ‘A Good Time’ might have been the wrong title for this album. It’s a diary of introspect, love and other things. ‘A Good Time’ sends the message of partying and the loud life. I mean, the album serves us a good time, but sometimes, titles aid expectation from an audience - it can be positive and negative.
The expectation is usually subconscious and they judge the music based on that subconscious expectation. That might be why certain people have been very harsh on this album. But in the end, something tells this writer that this album will age really well - maybe even better than Davido anticipated.
• 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
Content and Themes: 1.2/2
Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.2/2
6.6 - Victory