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EP Review: ‘CKay The First’ means decision time for CKay

Again, CKay makes good songs, but most of them have very minimal 'hit' prospects.

CKay at the listening party for 'CKay The First' on September 30, 2019. (Chocolate City/Warner)

He’s not just a super-talented artist, he’s a brilliant producer as well. Some of your favourite sounds were produced by CKay. While he’s not as obscure as he once was, he’s still not where he could be musically.

He has transcended the 2017 quip, ‘Who the f*** is Ckay?’ which Osagie Alonge, former Editor-In-Chief of Pulse Nigeria made in the heat of passion. Since then, he has released a hit, ‘Container’ and Who The F*** Is CKay? a mildly successful EP. However, his career still represents that very question - without the F-bomb part; ‘Who Is CKay?’

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On August 30, 2019, CKay released his second EP, the 8-track CKay The First. From the EP, he released the potential hit, ‘Way’ which features label mate, DJ Lambo. The single wonderfully merges an interpolation of Beethoven’s ‘5th symphony’ with a memorable experience. Beethoven’s concerto piano drops merges with elements of afrobeats percussion.

However, ‘Way’ is just one of eight songs. What resonates with CKay The First is how enjoyable the most of the other seven songs are. They are mostly love songs or songs about the hustle and the ladder climb to the top.

‘DTB’ is an R&B song that starts up like ‘Hulk Hogan’ from Wretch 32’s and Avelino’s 2016 mixtape, Young Fire, Old Flame. Love Nwantinti’ drives us back into more familiar terrain. It’s a love song with a lo-fi, resonant afrobeats sound. CKay is so drunk in love, he says, “Without you I go fit fall and die, without you I go give up my life…

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‘Kalakuta’ shares similar adlibs to ‘Dapada’ by Dremo and Mayorkun. With it, he also samples some Fela adlibs. The beat is again good and memorable. ‘Ski Ski’ sounds like the opening of ‘Nobody Fine Pass You’ by T-Classic. The lyrics from 00:34 sound like something off the Rema alley.

BOJ is talented, but ‘Oliver Khan,’ which also features the alte grundnorm shouldn’t have made this album. It’s an afrobeats song that’s lacks allure. ‘Like To Party’ is a club song that features Blaqbonez. It also sticks out. However, ‘Beeni’ is also another standout record, but one questions its success as a single.

Throughout CKay The First, the songs are good and mostly alluring. Even the ones without allure will likely find a niche audience. The problem is whether any of the songs sound like hits.

The question is if any of those songs could get CKay from C5 to B3. After all, the Nigerian mainstream is witnessing a change of guard and CKay is far more talented than most of the guys crafting hits.

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CKay The First is filled with good songs that CKay found a way to make better with his artistry - Sheeesh! This guy has talent! There’s a star in CKay. However, he’s not making the songs that will make him a star. He needs to go from making just good songs to more resonant - and potential hit - songs.

What’s crazy is that, it’s hard not to root for him. His story is peculiar and his talent is pungent. For the release of CKay The First, he had a listening party at CCX Lounge, Victoria Island, Lagos. The attendees at the event show that CKay is climbing up the ladder and making the right impression.

At the party, he was soft-spoken and mildly unassuming - a hallmark of peculiar talent. He was very unlike the vibrant guy you’d hear his on his songs.

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To show his gratitude, he walked around the lawn where his attendees were gathered, shook their hands and said ‘thank you for coming’ to each attendee. But to be honest, people like this writer and a lot of others were not just there for appearance sake, they were there to genuinely show support for his talent.

Going forward, he needs to set himself apart. However, a sentimental part of this writer feels CKay is slowly warming up to that huge break where everything just aligns. Some acts crack it right away, others happen later.

For a few others, they work their way to that moment where the stars align. Is this writer being too optimistic and sentimental? There’s something special in CKay, but time will tell. That’s a question nobody can answer.

What's certain is that It’s decision time for CKay. He has to decide whether he wants to simply make good songs or hit records or at least songs that standout.

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Ratings: /10

•   0-1.9: Flop

•   2.0-3.9: Near fall

•   4.0-5.9: Average

•   6.0-7.9: Victory

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•   8.0-10: Champion

Pulse Rating: /10

Tracklist: 1.5/2.5

Production: 1.8/2.5

Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.4/2.5

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Execution: 1.3/2.5

Total:

6.0 - Victory

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