EP - “Who The F*ck is CKay?”Artist - CKayRecord Label - Chocolate City Records (2017)
The best artists seek to build on opportunities and spin situations around to profit from adversity. CKay, the 22-year-old Chocolate City musician and producer might have felt some type of way when Pulse’s Osagie Alonge asked the soul-stirring question:
“Who the fuck is CKay?”
It was a genuine ask, to drive home to M.I Abaga that the young man still needs a lot of artist development to happen for him before he can be successfully rated. But you know the internet. It’s an indefatigable monster which unleashes its own spin on events, and CKay is the latest to be caught in the web of opinions, facts, and the odd request to fire back with music, packaged and released “for the culture.”
But not everything is destined to be done “for the culture.” Social media, with its band of trolls and contributors, is fickle, and decisions based on a trend can either be a hit or miss. If you score it right, you become a momentary hero, to be loved, celebrated and licked on those streets. But that’s only if you succeed.
Failure comes at a price. The same people who praised and egged you on will be the ones to bare their fangs and sink it into your skin. Like J. Cole said in ‘Fire Squad’, “Same rope you climb up on, they'll hang you with.”
CKay ought to know this. He is surrounded by seasoned professionals, with many years in the game. And this time, they advised him to drop an EP with the intent to shut up Osagie Alonge with his brilliance and introduce a larger crowd to his music. It’s a reactionary project, which is designed to take advantage of a rare trending opportunity to release music.
But it isn’t his best foot forward.
CKay’s new EP is a reminder of why he is yet to achieve the fame, stardom, and pop acceptance that he craves. 6-songs in, Ckay introduces us to both sides of the equation as a producer and artist. He thrills and disappoints at the same time, as both a producer and an artist.
Opening track ‘Winner’ starts this off on a wrong note. It’s a basic play to repurpose a classic faith-based melody into a cheap radio-friendly pop song. He fails at this simply by making it too basic to be enjoyed. Sometimes froth doesn’t find its crowd, and this is a great example. But it gets better with the next click. ‘Chinekeme’ contains masterful production, with the added effort of Tinny Entertainment’s Bella Alubo, who provide a song that sits comfortably with the ‘new wave’ sounds pushing through Soundcloud.
‘Na u biko’ and ‘Gehfriend’ are two peas in a pod, twin records which marry progressive production with pop lyrical influences. Although they add to the melodic appreciation of the project, they are essentially unimpressive in their totality and fail to stand out.
You can also get the best quality of CKay and even better on ‘African woman.’ It’s a throbbing production, backed by efficient song writing, and a delivery that seals it. This is the gem on “Who The F**k is CKay?.” Sampling Fela’s classic record ‘African Woman’, the artist marries both sides of his act – singing and production – into a song that he can lead any conversation with.
‘I’m single’ increases the tempo of the entire project, as it is designed for those heavy nights on the dance floor. The energy is a boost, with engaging storytelling couched in simplistic storytelling. Of course, there’s a decent assist from Dice Ailes for dynamism.
By the very nature of its release, this is an introduction for Ckay. The project is a curation of the sounds that define Ckay’s versatility and his ability to switch up his styles to suit any record. This project is a lukewarm sales pitch to the fans and the industry, a display of artistic skill which serves its primary purpose.
You can now listen to Ckay, and hear his answer to the heavy question. But deep down, you get the realisation that to hit the levels that he aspires to, and shut down critics of his work, then more is required of him. I know Ckay for now, but based on this evidence, it will be hard to retain that knowledge.