Album: Rhythm And LifeArtiste: ShaydeeGuests: 2face Idibia, Phyno, Ice Prince, Flavour, Niyola, Iyanya, A Pass, Burna Boy, Wizkid, Banky W, ReminisceProducers: Spax, JayPaulBeats, Maleek Berry, DaPiano, IllKeyz, Papi J, Legendury Beatz, Sagzy, Nessim, Da BeatFreakzDuration: 70 MinutesRecord Label: Empire Mates Entertainment (2016)

The vocals are good. That’s the first realization that hits you as you begin to digest Shaydee’s debut effort “Rhythm & Life’. A thoroughbred singer who embraces the ability to use the vocals as the main musical instrument, the EME singer powers in and holds you first with the clarity of that voice.

This clarity has always been Shaydee’s strength. From his debut single ‘O poju’ with EME, his talent has always been self-evident, shining forth with every chance it gets. But time and a focus on other stars had trapped Shaydee in the backwaters of industry recognition. As Wizkid, and Skales flew out the door from the BanKy W-led establishment, Shaydee stayed within, publicly uneager to stir the nest and express frustration.

Although he has never been a certified household name, he’s definitely had a taste of mainstream success. As a member of EME, he scored a suggestive hit song with ‘Won gbo mi’ in 2014, a collaboration with Wizkid. He was also a negligent part of Seyi Shay’s breakthrough ‘Murda’ song, along with Patoranking who played a major role. Now Shaydee is chasing the industry with a new project.

“Rhythm & Life”, the debut album from the man makes no attempt to sell its creator in a set form and dampen his ambitions. It’s Shaydee filtering classic R&B sounds via the Nigerian way, and also embracing reggae grooves, while chasing the meeting point between the both genres. He generates his titles to reflect that confluence, with ‘Sweet like Rihanna’, Divine, Pon Da Floor, and High, all on the same project.

At times, his music flirts with regular pop sounds, but he most avoid that genre’s predictability with unconventional song structures and unexpected production flourishes. Synths and adlibs meet different vocal registers on ‘Pon da floor’; ‘Sweet like Rihanna’ is a psychedelic R&B-reggaeton jam on which Shaydee asks his lover to “let him hold her hands”, while 2face goes direct and inquires ‘who be that man…wey dey look your waist, dey let your waist dey waste.’ There’s also pretty but inventive ‘Love you still’ which sounds like a twisted marijuana-fuelled lullaby which brings on Flavour for a Highlife spike. Throughout, Shaydee makes almost as much use of guitars and drum kits, as the best from Jamaica.

Although “Rhythm & Life” is an album that will reward repeated listens, it’s far from inaccessible. ‘Body bad’ is an instantly infectious club cut about “her body bad, e dey make you want to craze” on the dancefloor; the Trap-influenced R&B blast of ‘Everyday’ sounds like a skewed take on many meta US radio hits. Shaydee’s lyrics are sometimes a bit poetic but he nearly always delivers an ear-snagging turn-of-phrase. “I dey thank God say I no dey lack anything, we dey hammer, we dey scatter,” he sings graciously on ‘Everyday’, a song inspired by his struggles and triumph in the music industry.

Dense, detailed and idiosyncratic, “Rhythm & Life” doesn’t find a place neatly next to the muscular beats and suggestive pop hits that are currently dominating the charts. But there will always be a place for music as rich as this that dares to be a little different.

Rating – 3.5


1-Dull2-Boring2.5-Average3-Worth Checking Out3.5-Hot4-Smoking Hot4.5-Amazing5-Perfection