On 'IllyChapoX,' iLLBliss does it for God, country, family, love and business [Album Review]

Olamide, Yemi Alade, Phyno, Niniola and Johnny Drille feature on the album

iLLBliss releases 10th studio project, 'IllychapoX.' (Goretti)

iLLBliss is the Thoroughbred and former banker who left the shores of Nigeria and back with a revitalized dream to break through. He broke through and embodied a destroyer with words for full metal jacket. His mind, armed with thoughts of creating wealth is driven by his unrepentant Igbo background.

Once he broke through, he became Oga Boss of Goretti. Then, a powerful influencer of Nigerian music. Then, iLLY became the Bomaye, the Chapo and now the Chapo X. For one of Nigeria's greatest rappers, still being relevant in the thick of his veteran days is no mean feat when all your peers continue to battle with obscurity.

Hate him or love him, he's the prime connoisseur of adult contemporary Hip-Hop in Nigeria. This time, he does it for God, country, family, love and business. With a better track arrangement, IllyChapoX could have played like a movie.

On his tenth body of work and sixth album, iLLBliss builds up divinity and God as a plot on which he constructs tales about the things holds dear - family, love, country, business (read money), his child and then, his Igbo heritage.

You might have watched the viral video on ILLBliss' Twitter page, but the triumphant sounds of 'God Made You King' holds more worth on IllyChapoX as an album opener. It underlines an emotion that iLLBliss still embodies - one of an underdog elevated by providence afforded by the chronos.

Alongside a calmer boom bap track two in, 'Heal,' 'God Made You King' is reflection through inflection. illbliss is like a patriarch and he's protective. On those two tracks, he hopes God who created all the things he holds dear heals the earth and to protect those things he holds dear - especially from COVID-19.

Like the saying in the old world, you respect God, country and the taxpayer - albeit on different levels of fear of impending danger. iLLBliss has discussed God and paid homage, now he eulogizes his country while decrying bad governance, terrible national character and corruption.

First comes the Hip-Hop spirit on the aptly titled, ‘Country.’ Central to that is a sample of Burna Boy’s infamous tirade at Nigerians in the wake of Funke Akindele’s arrest for hosting a party in the thick of COVID-19 lockdown and news that the office of the Accountant-General has caught fire - Nigerianese for ‘money haff disappear.’

While iLLBliss is Nigerian and Biafran, he accepts his Nigerian heritage as he celebrates the Nigerian flag on ‘Green White Green.’

There can be no life without parents. There will then be no generational continuity of parenthood without some form of union between a man and a woman to produce an issue. With songs at different stages of IllyChapoX, iLLBliss draws unintentional parallels between humanity in life forms and generations.

With the Johnny Drille-assisted, ballad-esque boom-bap of 'Remember,' iLLBliss remembers his late dad, growing up with his sister, Munachi, his mother who is aging like fine wine and his aunt, Mo who played pivotal roles in nurturing him and helping him through tough times. He grew, found fame and got married to a music-inclined queen.

With three pop songs, he celebrates his wife, her beauty, his love for her and what makes her special. Pop songs means the songs came from a happy place. ‘Fever’ features Yemi Alade and it documents love with hints of a wedding day. ‘Goddess’ is specifically dedicated to his wife, her beauty and her energy. Illbliss even wants us to make way for her… and that we shall do.

‘Superman’ might seem vain from its title, but in its essence, it builds success on the concept of union and partnership with a woman. From that union came Kaima, the central theme on Illy Bomaye. Now three, Illbliss’s life revolves around her and watching her flourish in life. She gets mentions on ‘Remember’ and the grandiose finality of ‘Rest.’

While ‘Rest’ falls more on a thematic base of creating generational wealth, “Sochikaima sleeping on my chest…” is central to it. His daughter sleeps on his chest and close to his heart. In those moments, it means thoughts of wealth will inevitably lead to the heart and then, Sochikaima.

When God, country and family have been honoured and peace reigns. Survival becomes central. But when you’re iLLBliss, you don’t just want to survive, you aim to thrive and create wealth for ‘Generations’ with power at its root. This also suits the boss persona iLLBliss has built for himself.

The regalia opens with the very dance-worthy self-explanatory concept of ‘Kiss The Ring.’ Such power needs sustenance and it can only be fuelled by capitalist money. iLLBliss touches on that with Afro-pop self-explanatory ‘Bizness’ and ‘40FT Container.’ Other times, he is also an entertainment capitalist in ‘Upper Iweka,’ Onitsha, Anambra State.

‘Upper Iweka’ is the centre of Nollywood movie distribution in Nigeria. You might remember those Nollywood ads from the 90’s and 2000s when Segun Arinze used to voice-overs for movies like ‘The Insider.’ You hear things like, “Marketed and distributed by… 41, Iweka Road, Onitsha…” Upper Iweka is a centre of cinema capitalism in Nigeria.

Knocking and knocking with Kezyklef acumen is ‘Kaku.’ ‘Kaku’ is Nigerianese for ‘Calculate’ with money as its central theme. While some might mistake ILLBliss’s braggadocio for simple vanity by opulence, ILLBliss actually raps like a cartel boss who is bound by the omerta. When you’re a cartel boss, creating wealth with capitalism, ‘Kaku’ is how you stay flourishing and how you stay alive.

With the grimy Griselda-esque beat comes ‘Bags Bags Bags,’ a dedication to money and iLLBliss hopes to ‘Die There.’

The story of this album could have been better told with better track sequencing. An example is the arrangement of the above review. With such track sequencing, IllyChapoX could have been a short film of loyalty, divinity, family, generations and wealth.

While all songs on IllyChapoX have value and a purpose, they equally feel familiar - like we’ve heard it from iLLBliss before. Some topics also feel excessively repeated while certain tracks like ‘Remember’ and ‘Superman’ feel like loosies. This means 17 tracks could make the album lack replay value in the fast-paced world of streaming.

The songs on this album also have varying sonic resonance. While this album takes a unique spot on iLLBliss's discography for its amazing topical cohesion, it lacks the sonic excellence of certain iLLBliss projects before it.

But in the end, iLLBliss will never make an average album. This is yet another dope listen that will age like yet another bottle of fine wine in iLLBliss winery of fine bottles of wine in the form of albums.

Ratings: /10

• 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

Tracklist: 0.8/2

Content and Themes: 1.8/2

Production: 1.4/2

Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.5/2

Execution: 1.5/2

Total:

7.0 - Victory

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