'Stress Free' is a timely reminder of D'Banj's excellence and greatness [Pulse EP Review]

Commendably, the Amapiano rhythm of a record like ‘Big Vibes’ and the Rexxie-produced ‘Ikebe’ reflect D’Banj’s awareness of contemporary sonic realities.

D-Banj - Stress Free. (DB/SONY)

D’Banj is a certified legend of Afrobeats. In an ideal world, with more socio-politically charged lyrics and sizable major label backing, the production on ‘Banga,’ ‘Welcome To Lagos,’ ‘Zombie’ and ‘Stress Free’ is Grammy worthy. Sadly, we don’t live in that world. But D’Banj has continued to swim and thrive against the tide of detraction. He continues to win and thrive.

One thing he retains is an ability to create swashbuckling, memorable moments in sonics, adlibs and humorous quotables. He also still possesses the ability to make his fans feel themselves at the sound of his voice. Purely on the strength of his music, D’Banj hasn’t lost a yard. Even better - with his understanding of contemporary sonic reality, it feels like he has evolved.

Stress Free is his latest body of work. In high-calibre fashion, it contains themes that co-opt minimalistic enjoyment of life; money, attractive narcissistic self-adulation and women… lots of women. In a way, his themes align with the title of his EP.

What better way to enjoy your life stress free as a Lagos man than with money, power and women?

At the centre of his EP is womanhood; discussed with elements of vanity, fascination and sex. The love-themed roots of ‘Zombie’ find favour in adulation and sweet wash while records like ‘Avocado,’ ‘Ikebe’ and ‘Open The Roof’ discuss women with an alluring, yet vain sexual fascination.

Aided by D’Banj’s famous mastery of adlibs with Fela-esque mannerism, the pungent reflection of his famous stage craft, and the creative use of his vocal range, D’banj delivers memorable music with the beating heart of what catapulted him into global superstardom.

Commendably, the Amapiano rhythm of a record like ‘Big Vibes’ and the Rexxie-produced ‘Ikebe’ reflect D’Banj’s awareness of contemporary sonic realities.

In terms of album sequence, there is also something to be admired in the tracklist of this EP, which reveals a two-part experience. Part one consists of the opening three tracks, which discuss self-adulation, freedom from stress and the poetic, affectionate appreciation of the juxtaposition of Lagos.

Part two consists of the final five tracks, which appraise the concept of womanhood from a masculine perspective. It shows that thoughts went into this project.

However, ‘Stress Free EP’ might have been better with this tracklist;

Welcome to Lagos

Banga

Zombie

Ikebe

Avocado

Big Vibes

Open The Roof

Stress Free

This way, the EP could have told a simple story; D’Banj opens the EP as ‘Banga,’ a successful son of Lagos who loves women and uses ‘Zombie’ and ‘Ikebe’ to appraise some of the best things about Lagos. Since ‘Avocado’ is based around a girl that D’Banj meets in London, he could have used ‘Big Vibes’ and ‘Open The Roof’ to follow ‘Avocado.’

This could have represented his experience with said girl. This could have then culminated in feeling the essence of a ‘Stress Free’ life, filled with women, passion and intercontinental ‘cassanovaing.’

Final Thoughts

While the critique of D’Banj’s album sequence is definitely borderline, the biggest issue with this EP is the sensitivity of D’Banj’s content. Ordinarily, nothing is wrong with the things he’s said. More importantly, those topics are on brand, kinda.

But recent infamous history and D’Banj’s transcendence in age, marital status and certified legendary status suggest that a change in approach might have been appropriate. Records like ‘Banga,’ ‘Welcome To Lagos,’ ‘Stress Free’ and ‘Zombie’ suit D’Banj’s current standing and realities.

They speak the language of an aware superstar, who is also a legend. The content is also age-appropriate. ‘Banga’ is a timely reminder of D’Banj’s greatness, in case some intentionally obtuse cynics developed amnesia. ‘Welcome To Lagos’ is an appreciation of his city and ‘Stress Free’ is the perfect song for D’Banj.

He is happily married with a kid. He is wealthy and endorsed by multiple brands. He’s also a survivor for many reasons. ‘Zombie’ could then have a music video starring D’Banj’s wife.

For the average person on the streets, they wouldn’t care about what this writer is about to say because ordinarily, ‘Ikebe,’ ‘Big Vibes,’ ‘Avocado’ and ‘Open The Roof’ are fantastic records.

But considering what D’Banj recently survived as a married man, the topics which revolve around finding an ‘endowed’ London girl on ‘Avocado’ or finding two kokolets on ‘Open The Roof’ or singing that “Close the door… no one has to know…” on the sexually-charged ‘Ikebe’ could have been completely avoided.

It’s not about the quality of those records now, but about the brand that D’Banj should currently be projecting as an OG, ambassador, legendary superstar and a survivor.

Ratings: /10

• 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: 1.4/2

Themes and Delivery: 1.5/2

Production: 1.9/2

Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.9/2

Execution: 1.0/2

Total:

7.7 - Victory

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