Talent has never been the problem for Peruzzi and neither has the problem been our recognition of that talent.
2015 was the year many first recognized and admitted his talent - for some, it's been longer, but not until 2018 did the wider market recognize it. His slalom into the DMW camp coincided in one of the label's most productive era from a collective creativity standpoint.
The came his biggest moment yet, 'Amaka' by 2Baba. For many who didn't know him before, they were shocked. However, others who already knew Peruzzi simply jammed the song for months without a hint of shock.
The reputation continued burgeoning. Then Heartwork, his 9-track EP got mixed reviews from fans and listeners. The reason was not for bad sounds, bad flows or terrible vibes. The problem wasn't even about Peruzzi's artistry.
The problem was that Peruzzi got comfortable with familiar producers and it reflected badly on a monotonous EP. However, the talent never left - it was even evident on Heartwork EP.
Even when he slapped influencer, Pamilerin, hate only dogged his character. Even though he was trolled, surprisingly, Nigerians didn't really diss his music. A few months down the line, he releases his 10-track debut album, Huncho Vibez Vol. 1.
Honestly, this album underlines everything good about Peruzzi's talent. He rumbled and swayed with near-peerless understanding of exactly what beats need. He also dutifully engaged his vocals with necessary pitches.
More importantly, Huncho Vibez is a product of individuality - it has only one feature. That's because Peruzzi crooned effortlessly and needed nobody - which is commendable.
In the same vein and most importantly, where Heartwork EP was monotonous, Huncho Vibez is slightly diverse as Peruzzi expands his sound. Heartwork EP's weakness was an overkill of revised-pon pon obsession, but Huncho Vibez takes sonic risks. Certain songs see Peruzzi's producers experiment with melodies of different genres.
Bachata-infused electro- R&B is evident on 'Bounce,' Post-Disco is the melody on 'Gumbodi,' EDM is evident on 'Sunshine' and Reggae-pop wrings on 'Show Me Love.' However, the problem remains that on the percussion of some is these songs is the identifiable Speroach/Fresh VDM-revised pon pon arrangement. Peruzzi can't seem to shake the need for it.
That is more revised pon pon than this writer would have advised. Nonetheless, even with this writer's frustration, he recognizes that there was just about enough experimentation to make this project a worthy experience. Moments like the chants on 'Destiny' and the final 16 seconds on 'Show Me Love' positively illuminate Huncho Vibez Vol. 1.
However, it would have been beautiful had Peruzzi allowed those final 16 seconds on 'Show Me Love' to become a short freestyle for track 3. That said, Peruzzi must break himself out of that revised-pon pon pigeonhole as soon as possible.
He cannot afford to tie that much talent to one recurrent drum arrangement. One way he can do it is to stop working with Fresh and Speroach for a while. Having a sound is good, but the time to change a sound is when the audience gets constipated.
The music is made for the audience, not the artist. It's at their mercy and an artist needs to evolve when the signs point to a need or the artist risks obscurity.
On themes, this album is a potpourri of love topics in a diary of promises, 'wash,' and sex. It also underlines Peruzzi's commendable songwriting skills. However, one might want Peruzzi to expand his topical conversations. It's hard, but if anybody can do it, it's him. That said, for what he wants this album to be, he pulls it off with the focus on love.
Huncho Vibez loses energy between 'Gerrout' and 'Gumbodi.' They're the weakest songs on the album. 'Gerrout' sufferers from a lack of pronounced melodies and heavy reliance on Peruzzi's vocals.
For 'Gumbodi,' it's so sad because it's the most unique sound on this album. Its percussion feels like something from Lionel Richie's era of music and its melody is early 2000s American pop.
The best songs are the incredible vibes and brilliance of Peruzzi on 'Destiny' and almost any other songs asides 'Gumbodi' and 'Gerrout.' 'Destiny' is a magical time-gap between poetry, looped red Indian chants and astute delivery by Peruzzi. Its percussion is a sped up revised-pon pon, and it's so beautiful.
'Mauriello' and 'No Be Mistake' are odes of love that are only slightly let down by the cliche revised-pon pon percussion on which they're laid. Another beacon on this album is 'Only One,' which would have been a wedding tune but for the 'weed talk' in its opening seconds.
Track listing is faultless on this album, but the track list itself slightly falls short. When it's all said and done, this writer predicts that Peruzzi's career trajectory might be like Burna Boy's. The talent will be never be denied, he will keep being in the conversation until one day that he leads the conversation.
This writer also believes and he hopes Peruzzi himself believes it. But first, he needs to get away from then producers he currently works with. This could be his last chance to succeed with the revised-pon pon percussion of Speroach and Fresh VDM.
In the end, Huncho Vibez Vol. I is where Peruzzi's journey truly begins. The criticism of Heartwork EP is over, this is redemption. It might not have the biggest songs in the country - and it might, who knows? - but one thing is certain, this is definitely a good album. Where the journey leads from here, only Peruzzi can decide.
But finally, he has a good springboard. Fly, Tobechukwu. Get out of your house and fly.
• 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: 1.7/2
Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.6/2