On 'Alagbe,' Qdot's high ambition is marred by inadequate production [Pulse Album Review]
The highs of the album are incredibly high, but its inadequacies are equally as loud. Its lows are also as glaring.
His first popular song was cut straight from the Cherubim and Seraphim culture. He has since repeated that formulae while he’s consistently produced a rapper’s cadence. In fact, Qdot is a rapper stuck in an Alagbe’s body. His record, ‘Koshi Danu’ is built on strong rap influences with heavy punchlines and quotables.
Before then, he jumped on the popular Gqom sound to produce the popular, ‘Gbese.’ He then went back into his bag of traditional undertones for songs like, ‘Jegele’ and ‘Ijo Gelede.’ Those titles alone are heavily steeped in Yoruba culture. Over the past six years, he has released over 25 singles.
His aptly-titled debut album, ‘Alagbe’ was released on November 20, 2020. The bulk of the album is produced by brilliant, versatile veteran Nigerian producer, Drumphase and the budding T-Weezy who has worked with a myriad of Nigerian stars. The album artwork is perfectly suited to Qdot’s brand, the album title and Qdot’s fundamental African style.
Throughout the album, everything that makes Qdot special is on show. He speaks to life, love, family, loss, gratitude, respect, marijuana, dating culture, internet fraud culture, party, vices and more with witty lines, consistent depth and good songwriting and delivery.
His style is as dynamic, elusive, ubiquitous and impeccable as usual. At the top of that pile is his brilliant use of his vocals - as aided by auto-tune. At times, he still produces that rapper cadence, but the genres that form the album are diverse.
On the album intro, ‘Iba’ Qdot produces one of his finest moments yet as an artist. He delivers a riveting moment of respect to his peers, the legends, the upcoming artists and more. He also delivers a chilling praise to God. Like a typical Alagbe, he introduces himself and proceeds to salute everything in sight.
He sings in Yoruba that, “Ewure t’oba wole ti ko ki ago, iyen di eran amuso…” That loosely means, “You must pay respects when you have to…” That electronic guitar strum session that marks part of the production is a nice detail, but the song required more diverse melodies and a more extensive use of traditional drums.
That is followed by an amazing tribute to his grandmother, ‘Moriamo’ Alege. Damilare Qudus, Alege, now known as Qdot is the first child of his parents. But sadly, his parents never planned to nor did they get married. Growing up in Abule Ado near Shagamu, Ogun State, he lived like a mini Jack Nicholson.
Until he was old enough, he didn’t realize that his grandmother was actually his grandmother. He thought she was his mother until an accident where she referred to him as ‘Omo olomo.’ In English, that means, ‘The child of another.’ While fending for Qdot and his brother by harvesting Kolanut, she lost an eye only to go back to harvesting kolanut, shortly after the accident.
A young Qdot’s head would swell anytime the late Ma Moriamo Alege called him, ‘Oko mi.’ One day, as she felt weak in the knees, she sent a young Qdot out to go play with his brother. On coming back, Qdot found her lying unconscious. He screamed for his father but that wasn’t enough to save her. She’s late, but Qdot’s love for her lives on.
This record is incredibly reminiscent of something 9ice and ID Cabasa would have made in the 2000s. Sonically, it actually shares similarities with a lot of 9ice songs like ‘I Don’t Care' and especially 'Anytime.'
For 'Moriamo,' Qdot samples 9ice's 'Anytime' in flow, Alternative production, thematic focus on loss, chilling introspect, picture-esque storytelling, heartfelt tribute to womanhood and delivery. 9ice sang about his grandmother and mother, Qdot sings about his grandmother.
The next track aptly features vocalists like T-Classic, Jaywon and Pepenazi. The music lover in this writer would have loved to hear Bella Shmurda, Terry Apala and Umu Obiligbo on ‘Angeli Mi.’
The song also brings back echoes of Qdot’s association with White Garment Church music. While the mixing of the sound engineering of the song leaves much to be desired, ‘Angeli Mi’ would be a dream for anybody who understands Cherubim and Seraphim music. The song is also a tribute to God; it’s filled with church references and prayers.
Save for ‘Duro,’ ‘Ah,’ ‘Jaiye’ and ‘Magbe,’ that was sadly as high as it got on this album. And two of those songs were already out as singles.
Qdot’s talent, dynamism and ambition largely carry the album, but the production and overall output of a lot of songs did not quite match up after ‘Angeli Mi.’ While T-Weezy is talented, Qdot’s sonic ambition for this album needed a larger expertise.
What Qdot needed on this album were producers like ID Cabasa and Pheelz to aid the work of T-Weezy and Drumphase. Asides the sound part, Qdot’s ambition for the album also required expert A&R/Executive Producer work from people like Olamide Baddo and ID Cabasa. A lot of time after ‘Angeli Mi,’ Qdot’s dynamism wasn’t matched by dynamic production.
It’s to Qdot’s credit that the high calibre Juju ambition on ‘Dance’ came out that good. T-Weezy attempted a tough task, but the production got too one-dimensional when it needed more variety in percussion, melody, progression and density like all the great Juju records.
If the average person plays this song, they might like it. But when you’ve heard great Juju records, you’d notice all the flaws of the ambitious ‘Dance.’
While his topical conversation of the importance of money on ‘Ayedun’ which translates to ‘Life is good’ makes a lot of sense, the perfection is also off. His ploy to sample KWAM 1 classic records doesn’t quite come off as sonically alluring due to shabby production. Qdot’s delivery and dynamism is then left to do all the work as the beat fails to catch up.
That line, “B’ose l’owo to, l’oma gbadun oyinbo to l’omu Davido, omo baba olowo pariwo p’owo ni koko…” is brilliant. In English it means, “With money, you will enjoy life. That’s why Davido, a privileged kid, sang that money is important [on ‘Owo Ni Koko’].”
The problem besets ‘Magbe’ featuring Patoranking. While the song is much better, the Gqom beat found the wrong legato melodies. Patoranking and Qdot all the heavy lifting for the beat… again. That Qdot line, “E ma wa difa, ti o fi oja difa, ifa pe Kafaya ni Wiz Khalifa…” is wild, witty and hilarious.
It’s yet another testament to Qdot’s rapper-esque deliveries. It’s also amazing to hear Patoranking sing in deep Yoruba. Yo! His verse is amazing - he sings, “Kafaya pada fi idi jo’na…” In English, that means, “Kafaya had the wrong sex and sold some random guy a canoli…”
‘Magbe’ is Yoruba for ‘Don’t carry’ and it’s followed by the impressive love song, ‘Duro.’ In English, ‘Duro’ means ‘wait’ or ‘stand.’ In the Afroswing song, Qdot is a loverboy who quizzes a faceless woman. He asks her if she will stand by through thick and thin, for richer for poorer in the name of the love she claims. The song is good, but it ends abruptly.
‘Maria’ featuring Xsmile is a filler. Just as Qdot went off on ‘Koshi Danu,’ he goes off on ‘Ah.’ If you understand Yoruba, you would understand that those lines are wild. Qdot is like a neighbourhood watchman who knows everything going on in every household in a close-knit estate.
On the song, he goes "Ye bawon dasha pe Aye fele, Aye gan o fele Ni'badan..." this is a bar. In Ibadan is a place called Felele and it’s not exactly the easiest spot. 9ice and Qdot speaking in tongues on ‘Iyanu’ is definitely what the fake bible ordered. Bruh, the opening seconds of this song are wild!
‘Iyanu’ is Yoruba for ‘Miracle’ so the Christian references are on brand. However, due to how important a 9ice and Qdot collaboration is, the song needed to be better than this - even though it’s not bad. The same thing goes for ‘Gbeja’ featuring the legendary Pasuma.
Qdot dropping an ode to marijuana on ‘Ewe’ is exciting on paper and the Reggae beat feels like a good idea, the beat and Qdot were mostly at loggerheads. Qdot was off key at different points. In a lot of ways, it feels like Qdot delivered this record on a different beat, but the record was accommodated to this new beat.
The slight switch in ‘Gbese’ was good and Niniola will give Qdot numbers, but this version is not as electrifying as the original. The problem might just be that the song had run its course. ‘Kokanmi’ finds its place on this album and excels and it makes more sense than it ever did as a single.
One song that could have given this album a face lift was ‘Jegele.’ It suits Qdot’s overall purpose, ambition and brand for this album. But sadly, it was cut. ‘Olopa’ featuring Zlatan is slightly underwhelming.
The highs of the album are incredibly high, but the inadequacies are equally as high. The lows are also as glaring. This is because Qdot’s act is dynamic and his ambitions for ‘Alagbe’ are lofty. It just wasn’t delivered properly.
• 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
Album Sequencing: 1.0/2
Songwriting and Themes: 1.8/2
Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 0.9/2
5.4 - Average
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