Olamide and Phyno get a plus for making history, but a minus for not re-writing history.
Album - 2 Kings
Artistes - Phyno, Olamide
Guest Appearances - Lil' Kesh, Wizkid, Storm Rex
Producers - Pheelz, B. Banks, Young John, Major Bangz
Record Label - YBNL/Penthauze (2015)
Duration - 38 minutes
In a time when the relationship between the Yoruba and Igbo tribes in Nigeria has been distressed because of the election campaigns, it’s encouraging and warming to see that the top two rappers in the game have teamed up to release the first joint rap album in the country.
Olamide, who hails from the South-Western part of Nigeria dominated by the Yoruba people has been Nigeria’s hottest rapper since the release of his sophomore album ‘Yahoo Boy, No Laptop’ (popularly initialized as ‘Y.B.N.L’ on the streets) in 2012.
Sitting on the throne with him is the ‘beast from the East’ known as Phyno. The light skinned Igbo rapper scattered the barn yard in 2012 with his hard hitting, concrete pounding, and game shifting single ‘Ghost Mode’ featuring Olamide. The song, which has to go down as one of the greatest Nigerian rap tracks of all time, launched not only the careers of these two rappers into A list status, but brought about the dominance of native tongue rap in Nigeria. Before the arrival of these two brothers in rhymes, the top Nigerian rappers delivered their hits in English.
Since the success of ‘Ghost Mode’, Phyno and Olamide have virtually monopolized the rap scene in the nation with successful rap albums, and chart topping singles. With their more than obvious chemistry, a collaborative effort by these two was bound to happen. They had talked about in 2014, a joint album called ‘2 Kings’. Further details were not released, and at some point ‘2 Kings’ felt like an item on the wish list of a Nigerian rap head, than an actual album.
Come April 1, 2015, April Fool’s Day, in line with global trends of dropping ‘surprise’ albums, the leaders of the new rap school dropped the album online-for free!
The 10 track album was primarily produced by Olamide’s trusted producer Pheelz. Other beat architects who worked on the LP are B. Banks, Young John, and Phyno’s go-to producer Major Bangz.
‘2 Kings’ starts off with ‘Cypher’, a piano driven rap basement track where Phyno proclaims “we are the champs, we don't even need a mawf*king belt”, and Olamide bursts the punch line “everybody just dey come, like say na 50 Shades of Grey.”
The positive note on which the album starts with quickly hits a snag on the follow up song ‘Koba Koba’ where both rappers ramble with nothing concrete on their minds. Luckily ‘Nobody’s Fault’ quickly covers this flaw. With a beautiful sample, the two kings talk about their rise to the top, and the next level they want to attain. “I can only make it out if I go in. I choose to win, I choose to fly, I must grow wings” raps the ambitious Phyno.
As they move to the next rung on the ladder of fame and fortune, they look up to the Most High on 'God Be With Us’. Olamide uses this track to address some of the criticisms that has been thrown his way recently. “Dey say make I dey wear suit, I too dey wear tank top. Dey say I too sign many artistes, I go soon bankrupt. Fuck you and your thoughts…God be with us. I know Jesus wept.”
While the quotables and braggadocious lines land thick and fast like punches from Mike Tyson in his prime, the game plan by Phyno and Olamide is hard to understand. For most parts on the short album, the rappers rap for just rap sake. The album lacks a conceptual pivot, and there is no arc that binds the album together. It feels like a bunch of tracks hurriedly put together when some brand executives finally signed the cheques.
We can’t overlook the bangers on this project which at the end of the day makes 2 Kings a decent project. Olamide's protégé Lil' Kesh steals the scene on the lewd ‘Ladi’, while Wizkid delivers an outstanding hook on ‘Confam Ni’, even though Olamide’s verses are disconnected from the theme of Wizzy’s chorus. ‘Une’ by Phyno should also do some damage in the East.
Some tracks on ‘2 Kings’ hold back the joint LP. ‘For My City’, and ‘Real Nigga’ (a blatant and under whelming attempt at cashing in on the dance hall trend in Nigeria), are the worst culprits. The good songs on the album are just that, good songs and nothing greater. They are not indicative of the lofty position of Olamide and Phyno, and their individual great standings in the rap game. In summary, the sum of its parts is greater than the whole.
While we most applaud the bravery and courage of Olamide and Phyno in bucking the ‘let’s play it safe’ approach most Nigerian rappers have, we most also not fail to see that ‘2 Kings’ is a project that had more promise and potential than impact. Olamide and Phyno get a plus for making history, but a minus for not re-writing history.
3-Worth Checking Out