Rexxie’s ‘A True Champion’ has diverse appeal, you should listen to it [Pulse Album Review]

All in all, ‘A True Champion’ is not a spectacular body of work, but it could yet be a successful one, depending on marketing because it has hit-worthy gems.

Davido, Naira Marley, Zlatan, Oxlade, Buju, Bella Shmurda and more feature on Rexxie's star-studded debut album, 'A True Champion.' (Africori)

When producers make albums, it’s usually for three reasons; two fulfill a lifelong dream, to build their discography by leveraging on existing relationships and to make money.

In Rexxie’s case, he’s written his name into the sands of Nigerian sonic times over the past three years by providing sonic groundwork for a lot of Nigeria’s street anthems. He has since crowned it with a Grammy certificate.

On his debut album, 'A True Champion,' Rexxie’s formulae is pretty much clear; to continue providing sonic groundworks for Nigeria’s anthems - maybe without the street.

As much as the album is sonically and stylistically rooted in the streets, the album is a product of many influences - both on Rexxie’s part and via his features. The album isn’t just Pan-African, it's a reflection of the major regions which influence black pop/dance music in the world today. Only the Caribbean doesn’t have a representation.

The sonics, melodies and chord progression on records like ‘Hobby’ also show that Rexxie consumes music with several influencers. This is clearly not an album to be judged on cohesive topics or sounds or even a central theme or clear songwriting. It’s not a Burna Boy or Brymo album that oozes masterful execution with thematic and topical storytelling.

This album is a goal for Rexxie, who wants to create his own discography that he can monetize. He’s also not an artist, so the rules are mostly different. He has to create recognizable anthems like DJ Khaled, DJ Jimmy Jatt, Jamix and DJ Spinall have proven.

This album can only be judged on the quality of the songs it produces, the commercial potential and how they sit together on an album.

Rexxie’s A&R - be that Dapper, Loose Kaynon or Rexxie himself - must take some credit for their selection of artists to feature. Not all songs are only the same level, but none of the featured artists stick out like a sore thumb. They sit well into the songs assigned to them and align with the sonics, melodies and chord progression.

This is aided by good album sequence/tracklisting which papers some of the album’s cracks. In particular, the opening and closing tracks were perfect. When the album could have gotten stale or tiring around the middle, it seemed to produce some of its best tracks in that sequence.

Instantly, songs like ‘Frenemies,’ ‘Motherland,’ ‘KPK,’ ‘Booty Bounce,’ ‘Hobby’ and ‘All’ standout from the crowd. In fact, ‘Booty Bounce,’ and ‘Hobby’ are two incredible favourites of this writer’s. Rexxie’s range is also impressive on ‘Motherland.’

Bad Boy Timz aces ‘Booty Bounce’ and ‘Hobby’ sees Peruzzi go into beast mode and deliver in Yoruba - he’s been singing more in native tongue over the past one year.

While records like ‘Back2Back’ and ‘Birthday’ are not quality by form, definition or traits, they have hit signature and speak the voice of the streets.

They sound like they could become the soundtrack barber’s shops, street carnivals and ‘bunk sessions’ filled with smoke. And that ‘mainstream’ market is where everybody wants to penetrate, not fickle social media hubs like Twitter.

Nonetheless, at 17 tracks and 52 minutes, the album is way too long. While long albums are a streaming strategy these days to flood the platforms and see what sticks or to get great numbers, it’s better when known acts with a reputation produce lengthy albums when the album is eagerly anticipated.

As Rexxie has grown to become one of Nigeria’s foremost hitmakers, his sound has also become recognizable because he has to work back-to-back to keep his name and game in the conversation. However, it’s been something of a blessing and a curse as Rexxie’s percussion is easily recognizable within the opening few seconds of any song.

On the blessing side, it means Rexxie has a unique sound that comes with being who he is. Producers like Timbaland in the 2000s, Scott Storch in the 2000s, Dr. Dre in the 90’s had signature percussion and automatically screamed their names. Artists and labels sought them out for their respective sounds and they made money.

But on the negative side, it can prove that a producer is a one-trick pony. ‘Banger,’ ‘40 BTC’ and ‘KPK’ have pungent similarities. Across the album, Rexxie’s percussion doesn’t exactly feel fresh on at least 13 tracks, even though he must take credit for his ability to find unique melody for each track. It mostly feels like we’ve heard most of it before in different forms.

The similarity between ‘Bebo’ and ‘Booty Bounce’ is also poignant, but it’s to Rexxie’s credit he retouched the percussion with Amapiano-esque log drums. He’s also finding his own brand of Dancehall with records like ‘Bounce,’ ‘Motherland’ and ‘Booty Bounce.’

There’s also a slight overkill of Amapiano influences on the album.

Records like ‘Mofoti 2.0’ are unnecessary fillers and ‘Zanku 2.0’ is stale, even if it works because it’s three years late. Even 2020’s dance, ‘Palliative’ has evolved.

40 BTC’ is a bit of a confusing track as well, but you never know because Seyi Vibez is on it.

All in all, ‘A True Champion’ is not a spectacular body of work, but it could yet be a successful one, depending on marketing because it has hit-worthy gems. And who better to do that than Dvpper Dam and Africori?

The good thing is that the streets will naturally catch at least three or four records from Rexxie’s debut album way before social media. The ‘cool crowd’ has a funny habit of catching up with the streets later than expected.

A True Champion’ is also a lazy title album - too random.

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

Total:

6.0 - Victory

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