A few years ago, CKay was just a Kaduna transplant who met Audu Maikori at an event. He signed to Chocolate City and thought it was going to be his road to stardom. Instead, Chocolate City became CKay’s artist development phase.
During his four-year stint with the label, he experimented with popular sounds and tried to fuse his true nature with the pop.
He released two EPs; Who TF Is CKay and CKay, The First. The first EP was an experiment in the art of contemporary Afro-pop while the second EP saw CKay step more into his own. He interpolated a Mozart concerto with Afro-pop for ‘Way’ and released a short film about ‘Alien’ culture.
But these days, CKay is more accustomed to comfort in his own skin. The boy who had a knack for eccentric style doesn’t hide anymore, he’s found the confidence to produce the kind of Afro-fusion he’s probably always wanted to make. It also helps that Nigerian music is in an era of experimentation.
Despite releasing previous EPs and producing the smash hit, ‘Love Nwantiti,’ Boyfriend EP is actually the birth of CKay. His distinct voice is now defined by his knack for adlibs, tinkered hums and expletives. He’s now like an Alternative artist making premium Afro-fusion.
On the EP, CKay embodies the typical millennial/Gen Z ‘Boyfriend,’ who loves hard and isn’t afraid to express it. The EP seems to tell the story of ‘Isabella,’ a young woman with ‘Skoin Skoin,’ but with whom CKay’s character is in love.
An argument can also be made for the EP as a collection of seven different records on which CKay embodies seven different ‘Boyfriend’ characters and tells different love stories - pleasant and unpleasant. After all, CKay sang about a Folake on ‘Jeje De Whine.’
His divine melodies are inspired by different cultures across the world, while his lyrics are distinct offsprings of pure lamba.
Some songs on ‘Boyfriend EP’ are a fusion of three genres. ‘Isabella’ has Dancehall drums, percussive effects of Afro-pop and uses instruments peculiar Boomba music from Kenya. It’s almost like CKay chopped up melodies from Rema’s ‘Iron Man’ and made ‘Isabella’ into something entirely different.
‘Jeje De Whine’ is heavily influenced by Latin-pop as CKay fuses Mariachi guitar chords, reminiscent of acts like Arlo Guthrie or Country Comfort with Afrobeats delivery. In essence, it’s like merging Mexican/Puerto Rican street music with Afro-pop. The same Latin-pop roots also inspire the mellow beauty of ‘Skoin Skoin’ featuring Bianca Costa.
The guitar chords that open ‘Felony’ are very Coldplay-esque and so is the remarkable use of violin on the beat. Word on the street says CKay paid somebody to compliment the original beat with a live rendition by violin.
The melody on ‘Kiss Me Like You Miss Me’ is cut from Indie Pop or Contemporary American Folk while ‘Show Me Your Love’ is Afro&B with avant-garde alte piano chords, filled with deceptive cadences.
Lyrically, CKay is mostly African with his peculiar choice of language, adlibs and even the sonic progression of his hums. Even when he mostly delivers in English like an Emo act on ‘Skoin Skoin,’ he adds ‘o’ as a suffix to certain lines and jumps into Pidgin.
Across the second songs, CKay elicits different emotional reactions to tell Nigerian love stories. Aided by a ludicrously brilliant, yet underlying bass legato, ‘Mezebu’ is a psychedelic brand of Afro-pop that’s roughly cut from the same cloth as Krizbeats’s ‘Erima.’
The record seems to capture the ‘rough patch’ of a relationship before the makeup on ‘Kiss Me Like You Miss Me.’ On a wild night out, CKay’s character drunk-texts his ex, and spills his guts. Oxlade and KiDi join CKay to reel from a bad breakup from a memorable woman. For the record, ‘Mezebu’ means ‘intoxicated.’
‘Jeje De Whine’ beautifully describes an intention to have sex. Like a drunk man, CKay sings, “Shawty bring your body close, let’s make love to my bed…”
‘Isabella’ is a declaration of love while ‘Skoin Skoin’ is a declaration of love for a woman with subtle hints of insanity or craziness. ‘Skoin Skoin’ is a Nigerian onomatopoeia for madness or insanity.
Closely followed by the ‘Mezebu’ hook, the adlib-riddled post-chorus on ‘Isabella’ is the best moment on this EP. That said, every song on this EP has a key attraction and a resonant point.
The global influences on ‘Boyfriend EP’ gives this writer a feeling that Global a Go-Go, a 2001 album by the late Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros gave him in 2007. While it might seem pointless, CKay’s features with J Molley, Amaarae, Davido and more might have helped sharpen his ability to take risks.
This EP seems tailored to a particular fan base from a rounded creative and if properly marketed, CKay could well gather a fan base that could form the basis of his act for years to come. However, the sound of this EP might prove too risque to the average Nigerian.
• 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: 1.7/2
Content, Themes and Delivery: 1.7/2
Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.6/2
8.4 - Victory