During a recent interview with Pulse Nigeria, Nigerian rapper and singer, Lil Kesh spoke about his struggles with mental health. This happened after he went from the guy with all the hits to a guy who started doubting himself. From those throes, he went into a transition with intermittent releases and he’s now back to celebrate his ‘Ecstasy.’
Even though he still refers to himself as “underrated l’omo” on ‘Try,’ as he laments his image to people, this project signifies his journey back to confidence and self-belief.
It is also a follow-up to his underrated debut album, Young and Getting It - his only major project release under YBNL Nation. In a way, this EP is all Kesh. He goes from a swaggering intro aboard the Pheelz-produced Drill record, ‘YAGI Level’ onto the rest of his album.
His debut album opened up to, ‘FSU,’ an energetic response and a riposte to his infamous Next Rated snub at the 2016 Headies. ‘YAGI Level’ is also energetic as it showcases a Kesh that Nigeria hasn’t seen in a while - a confident Kesh on a Rap record hitting all the notes, bars and levels with gusto.
In his voice is a telling confidence. He raps, “T’e ba lo kolu mi, ma jam yin bi omo Tiwa and Billz…” In English, that means “If you dare face me, I will [Jam] you like the son of Tiwa and [Tee] Billz…” For context, Tiwa Savage’s song with Teebilz is named Jamil, but his parents call him ‘Jam Jam.’ He confidently and repeatedly speaks of himself in third person, “Keshi!”
He drops bars and totally dominates a beat that many might deem tricky. This is the Kesh of ‘Cause Trouble’ and ‘Lyrically.’ Welcome back, you were missed. From there, he steps into a softer world of love songs aboard the Afro-pop, ‘Agbani Darego.’ The Electronic that forms the hook of that song might just have put the ‘E’ in ‘Ecstasy.’
‘Love Like This’ is the atypical Fireboy-suited record. The hook is good and Kesh joins the YBNL artist to chronicle the topic at hand - addictive love. Fireboy sings, “You give me love I nor deserve…”
Lines like that are why women love him to the moon and back. He also makes women question other men for not being able to express like that. This life nor just balance… While the single, ‘All The Way’ is of a faster, more intense brand, the topic remains love as Kesh made a solemn promise. He sings, “L’ojojumo, night and day, I love you every way…”
The problem with the song is that the hook is such a zenith that the verse doesn’t exactly match up to. As such, the song lacks a balance. That said, that hook could carry the record for other people.
The Bashment-backed ‘Try’ sees Lil Kesh feature producer and his perennial collaborator, Young Jonn on the hook. While Jonn delivered a rousing performance, this record sounds like Olamide’s ‘Triumphant’ and Kesh subtly sounds like the Nigerian legend throughout the song. Kesh is introspective on ‘Try’ like Olamide was on ‘Triumphant.’
Due to the similarity, a listener would subconsciously expect Bella Shmurda to suddenly appear on the hook. As much as the record is good, Kesh needs to be stepping away from Olamide’s shadow and not into it. That direction can be a slippery slope.
Dancehall rhythms with Konto influence usher in ‘Downtown Girl.’ On it, Kesh sings that despite being in love with an ‘Uptown Girl’ - like Westlife, he is infatuated with a ‘Downtown Girl.’ While Shaybo wasn’t the artist initially featured on this record, the English rapper delivers a rousing performance - especially after she was done singing and started rapping.
That line, “Clean boys can’t fly me out to other countries, if a broke boy says he want me I just find it funny, ah…” is wild. When the beat flips at 2:23, it gets brilliant - absolutely brilliant. The sound flip mimics bouncy Trap rhythms and hit an otherworld EDM/Dubstep-Reggae-Fusion trip at 2:54. This writer solemnly promises to buy the producer of this record a drink… Jesus Christ!
Under the right circumstances, this record could be a single. ‘Service’ is a good record and it has its allure - especially for girls. In English, ‘Opor’ means ‘It’s plenty.’ That’s the title of the final track on this EP.
Lil Kesh never lost the ability to make great records, all he needed was to believe in himself and have the right people around him.
The music is in you, Kesh. You just need to believe it…
• 0-1.9: Flop
• 2.0-3.9: Near fall
• 4.0-5.9: Average
• 6.0-7.9: Victory
• 8.0-10: Champion
7.5 - Victory