On March 20, 2020, Nigerian Singer and 360 Incubation Soldier, Gbasky released his sophomore EP, 'Black Frequency.'
The EP had been supported by the well-received single, 'Money Devotion.' The single had a title that plays on words and renders an ode to the Nigerian dream within the walls of Nigeria - money. The EP is Gbasky's sophomore project after Phenomenal EP - produced by The Sarz Academy and released in 2017.
First off, Phenomenal EP was an average project that needed to be released at the time. It served a purpose and Gbasky himself admitted as much during his visit to Pulse Nigeria earlier in March 2020. If you have been following Gbasky, the first thing you notice is the marked improvement that Black Frequency represents over Phenomenal.
This is an artist that's slowly getting into his own. Everything Phenomenal EP lacked to truly resonate with an audience, Black Frequency possesses. Black Frequency has a visibly better A&R direction that helps the artist find his natural essence. This then helps the artist craft music that feels natural to him and could resonate with an audience.
Black Frequency also excels on the tenets of sonic and topical cohesion, less risque music choices, topical and thematic relatability as well as organic musicality. Even things as simple as backing vocals stand out.
Gbasky also grows as an artist as Black Frequency drops at the best time possible - a wrinkle in the Nigerian sonic times that embraces acts like Fireboy, Chike and Gbasky. These times allow these artists to created substantiated music that's deeply rooted in folk-inspired pop music. In other words, these acts make music that you would like without necessarily making lamba.
For Gbasky, Black Frequency is then his solemn offering to the sparse bank of substantiated Nigerian music in the Nigerian mainstream. The project piques on everyday topics to created tones of comfort and understanding to young Nigerians going through life. In other words, it's empiricism in music - empiricism that goes beyond mere documentation into comfort for the hustlers.
Gbasky becomes a socio-politically-inclined poet that uses that backdrop to discuss important topics; love, hustling, depression, money, sex, party, moderation and vanity.
'Stress' the folksy-pop sound tailored to the Nigerian youth going through life while needing a voice of comfort. Gbasky doesn't leave them to the wind. Like the voice of Femi Fadeyi on 'Igi Aruwe,' Gbasky becomes Michael Jackson and offers a similar trope to 'You Are Not Alone.'
For his part, Gbasky tells the Nigerian, 'Yawa Nor Dey..." What an album intro. There's something about Gbasky's vocal utilitization - he plays safe with it because he understands his vocal limitation. That's something acts don't have.
'Original' feels more R&B. It points to good A&R that track one, which seemed cut from South-Western Nigeria could be followed by R&B that could thrive in the US without seeming scatterbrained. The song highlights the special traits of an unnamed woman who is worth fighting for. The hook and the adlib-inspired bridge are quite original.
When 'Money Devotion' was released, Pulse Nigeria wrote, "This is the first single off Gbasky's upcoming EP, Black Frequency. Built on folk instrumentation, Gbasky rides on an ode to money and the good things of life which money represents/can buy.
"With his mellow, yet layered vocal texture, Gbasky uses 'Money Devotion' as a prayer and a pronouncement of positivity. Its title is also a pun, 'Money Devotion' could easily be 'Morning Devotion' in the Nigerian parlance. In essence, it feels like Gbasky creates an anthem for morning devotion.
"In our current world, wealth and blessings reign supreme and a prayer for wealth is sufficient for any morning devotion. For his bridge, Gbasky also interpolates the classic Kwam 1 tune from his 2001 album, Statement." Those words still hold truth as 'Money Devotion' is up there with the best song this writer has played in 2020.
'Bolanle' is a piano-based folksy ballad that excels on deftly arranged afro-pop/moombahton drums and melodic adlibs that form its bridge. As Gbasky as done on this EP so far, he starts off as calmly as possible before letting the song - another ode to a faceless woman - this time - named 'Bolanle' makes its impression on the listener.
I like that warped out, child-like vocally enabled EDM touch on 2:55 - it sounds like something Major Lazer or DJ Snake might do. P Prime has something - it's called range and he needs to show it more.
'Free Person' is spiritual afrobeat that goes the lamba way while walking on foot - it doesn't rush. It's amazing how this song sounds better than the previous times I've played it. Music is interesting - King Perryyy, that was nice, mate. Anthony Offiah needed more soul though.
'Any Way' feels like a cliche 'vibe' sound that Nigeria has overused since Runtown popularized them in first-quarter 2017. It falls into the sonic cohesion and mellow folksy pop feel of Black Frequency and Gbasky uses layered vocals to document his willingness to find anyway to success. Well, isn't that familiar...
'Fun Won Tan' is the song with the fastest pace on Black Frequency. I understand why it made this EP - variety and 'ticking the box' for a pop-obsessed mainstream. However, it's the weakest song on Black Frequency. It also feels out of place - if A&R wanted to find a fast-paced pop song for this project, they could have selected a better beat. This one is dry and generic.
Props to the A&R for having the vision for variety though. 'Jeje Laye' closes this EP with the essence of 5pm at a Lagos owambe. The auto-tune is slightly heavy and Gbasky should have found lyrical density for his verses, but that beat will probably paper those cracks. That hook is also beautiful - Orlando Owoh would be proud.
Oh snap, what is that nasty saxophone. Scratch everything else, the older Nigerians will feel this one.
Gbasky is not there yet, but he's now very close to that level where he will drop hits at will. That's why bodies of work are important. With this, one can gauge where Gbasky currently sits. Some artists crack it at the first time of asking, while others need to nurture their artistry to a level where fans are ready for what they have. Gbasky belongs to the latter.
Black Frequency will prepare the minds of listeners and get Gbasky noticed. In fact, the quality of this project will do more for Gbasky than he or his team ever anticipated because there's something in there for everyone - especially the generation that matters in music.
However, if Gbasky keeps working with the right people and the right sound, his next project might just launch him into stardom. That's why his next project must not be rushed - it must not be cut from this same cloth of Black Frequency It must be a uniquely different proposition to this one while being sprinkled with what makes Black Frequency unique.
At this time, Gbasky seems to have deep-rooted pop background. His next project should slightly move away from this folksy/R&B mould into that pop realm where I foresee Gbasky thriving. One thing this project lacks is a genuine contemporary pop record to tie it all together. I mean like what 'Vibration' means to Laughter, Tears and Goosebumps or 'Nakupeda' to Boo of The Booless.
Yes, everyone has a different path. However, Gbasky's style is almost screaming out for a pop record on this project. There's a reason why 'Money Calling' was the best record on Phenomenal EP. The guy thrives on amazing pop beats with less deceptive and incomplete cadences.
Nonetheless, one remotely resonant track is all Gbasky needs from this project.
That said, the songs on Black Frequency will grow on people - they're not shock value music. They're familiar and for that reason, a lot of people will want to treat them as regular. But when those fans listen a second time, they will realize the quality. Black Frequency will serve its purpose because it's an important metric to measure Gbasky's obvious growth.
Gbasky's will be an amazing career to watch over the next few years.
• 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: 1.8/2
Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.5/2
8.4 - Champion