Album – RoseArtiste – A-QGuests – Maka, BoyBreed, Chuza, Mr Ji, Jesse Jagz, Khandie, BBJN, Teddy, Edem, M.I, Naeto C, Blend, Sound Sultan, Yemi Alade, Small DoctorProducers – Beats By JayyRecord Label – Hustle Inc. (2016)Duration – 70 Minutes

A-Q is staking it all on this project, with new branding, a vibrant vibe, optimism, and a push for commercialization via good music, rap-fusion, conceptual marketing and storytelling.

A constant supplier of projects, last year’s “Son Of John 2” (History Untold) rolled through as a real-life punctuation of the Hip-hop scene, in a year where the rap gods of Nigeria had switched focus to pop fusion, and the conversations in the genre had become polarizing. A-Q was right in the center of it all, dropping his bars and opinions via music, and having DJ Jimmy JATT proclaim him the best.

This year is different though. There’s a heightened commercial purpose to A-Q’s often confrontational stance, as he goes through a rebirth, gets M.I Abaga and Terso ‘T-Rexx’ Abagu on A&R duties, and sticks exclusively to Beats by Jayy for production. This is A-Q giving art another push, breathing new life into his music, and operating at a level that has never been experienced from him.

Listening to “Rose” album is like going into a time machine into the past, placing sonic and entertaining markers through the formative experiences, and slowly approaching the current day. That’s how A-Q wants it. A journey from childhood, through adolescence to maturation, all told from the perspective of  of an industry hustler and a Hip-hop master of rap.

Opener ‘NTA 2 Channel 5’ starts off with some of the hallmarks of an 80’s childhood baby, a promo jingle from the channel, and a humorous conversations on birthday spending. Singer Maka comes through on the hook for ‘80’s Baby’, an poignant drum heavy reminder of how different life was through two decades of growth for A-Q. This is the most nostalgic track on the project. But it can be rivalled by the detonating reality on ‘Agu ji ndi men’, and the complications on the Trap-heavy ‘Smoking under water’.

A-Q is helped as things go brighter on the radio-friendly ‘Red Cups’ by Mr Ji, but a real thing of beauty can be experienced on ‘Digital Waves’, where dope bars meet legendary flows. Jesse Jagz and A-Q come together for what is the jewel of the album. They measuredly explode through jarring horns, rattles and syncopations. ‘Political Science’ offers you a reassuring rebellion and depth.

Concluding the album is a haze of happiness, party vibes, and braggadocio. ‘Nothing’, ‘Ashewo’, ‘G Boys’, and ‘Coma’  would sit comfortably on club playlists.

Ultimately, what A-Q does on “Rose” is to connect with the waves that are currently rocking world music, maintaining a rap consistency and integrity that bridges the chasm between Hip-hop and pop music. He achieves this via deft balancing of sounds, and a pursuit for content value. A-Q always was a dope rapper, but the smooth introduction of new ideas unlocks another ‘pop-ey’ dimension to his craft. He quakes and attacks like before, but only this time, it is extremely delightful to experience.

Rating:  4/5


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