Show Dem Camp chronicles the lows of 2020 on 'Clone Wars V: The Algorythm' [Pulse Album Review]

On Clone Wars V: The Algorythm, they mostly speak from the perspective of older millennials about the drama around 2020.

Show Dem Camp chronicles the lows of 2020 on 'Clone Wars V: The Algorythm.' (NotJustOk)

Each letter is also created from a collection of words and lines. An OG who refuses to be named simply sums up Show Dem Camp’s run thus, “They started as Mobb Deep, before threading the Outkast path while occasionally dabbling in the art of Run The Jewel.”

That analogy is simple; Show Dem Camp were Mobb Deep on The Dreamer Project and the first two Clone Wars instalments; they were Outkast on the more commercial Palmwine Franchise which offered them sub-mainstream fame and are now Run The Jewels on the socio-politically charged ‘Clone Wars’ III, IV and V, albeit with progressively greater topical cohesion.

Clone Wars II: The Subsidy, Clone Wars 3: The Recession and Clone Wars IV: These Buhari Times represented social commentary from the perspective of the average Nigerian, crafted as bars.

As Ghost rapped on ‘Ghost’s Rant,’ “The clone wars series are time capsules / Future Generation mementoes / With each volume / Peep the rise in crescendo…

Those three amazing projects mostly highlighted and discussed the problems/issues and empathetic commiserations.

For example on ‘Rise of The Underdogs’ off Clone Wars III, Tec rapped that, “Take the good with the bad and label it the streets/And focus on your blessing…”

On Clone Wars V: The Algorythm, they mostly speak from the perspective of older millennials about the drama around 2020. The project is so 2020-focused that on ‘Bright Skies’ Tec referenced Michael Jordan’s Netflix documentary, The Last Dance.

On ‘Draw Me Close’ Tec raps that, “2020 was deep, we stayed afloat…”

The newly released fifth instalment of the ‘Clone Wars’ franchise is mostly crafted around the societal decadence that Nigeria has experienced since Q2 2020; COVID-19, lockdown, palliative hoarding, EndSARS protests, Aliko Dangote’s bumbum in the full glare of human optical paparazzi [and uh… clubhouse], Lie [sorry Lai] Mohammed, IG live sessions, ephemeral unity in Nigerian Hip-Hop circles, the ‘New Norm’ and more.

They also highlighted some power issues like Okey’s death on 'Ghost Rant' and used ‘Big Dream (Skit)’ to show how Nigeria kills people's dreams.

There is a ‘Ghost Rant’ and its methodical solutions, but moments like that and Tec’s verse on ‘Draw Me Close’ project a more fatigued Show Dem Camp.

Their passion is still there, but they project a demeanor of men who would rather kick their legs up in a foreign country with a steadily paying hustle than be in this stricken country called Nigeria, rapping about problems.

When they discuss problems as on ‘New Norm,’ there is a pain and/or anger - and even powerlessness - in their voice and demeanour.

There is the boisterous sequel to ‘Rise of The Underdogs,’ but the sound, tone and themes of ‘The Algorythm’ is calmer. Even sonically, its beats are calmer and more methodical, which allows the reflective music to flourish. While the album starts on a high with its opening three records, the tempo dropped more as the project went on.

The events around COVID-19 and EndSARS affected all Nigerians, but the political, personal, professional and financial realities discussed on ‘The Algorythm’ are from an older Nigerian millennial perspective.

On ‘Align’ Ghosts raps that, “Adulting is not easy I swear down as in just ask all my people who got mouths to feed…”

With records like 'Align,' CW5 collects a baton from its predecessor, which has introspective records like ‘Duade’ and ‘Respect, Loyalty and Honour.’ This makes SDC deserve high-praise for the continuity and nexus between all the ‘Clone Wars’ projects.

They get more realistic and speak depth - and in the face - of hard-hitting truth. On ‘Epigenetics’ off ‘Clone Wars IV,’ Ghost raps about his IJGB friend who moved to Nigeria with assumptions but moved back within six months. But on ‘Clone Wars V,’ Ghost raps about the attraction of moving out, not the sadness of moving back.

Like on the earlier ‘Clone Wars’ instalments, they still highlight the problems and they still commiserate but they also provide grown solutions. One of those is clear, ‘Align.’ This is probably inspired by the effects of aligned unified voices that we displayed during the EndSARS protests.

In 2019, Ghost wrongly caught flack for his supposedly misogynistic lines, from an overly excited, trouble-hungry, trigger-happy Nigerian feminist who shall not named. But the truth is those instances fall flat in the face of the exaltation of the power, influence and sensuality of womanhood and femininity that was the Palmwine Music franchise.

Tec steps away from the world of “pies” on ‘The Algorythm’ and raps on ‘Align’ that, “Just align with African women they’ve been designed to lead us to the finishing line/Omo in time we will see all the power inside where it resides/So chappie as they’re grabbing the wheel you step aside and align with your emotions and bring them into focus...

On ‘Human’ Tec repeats the same pattern, “We need to understand that our women are really our greatest strengths…”

This is probably related to how Feminist Coalition led Nigeria’s EndSARS fight.

Some of their stories are told through one of Show Dem Camps’ strengths across all the released ‘Clone Wars’ projects; character impressions and hilarious satirical skits, with a hint of allegory. On ‘The Algorythm,’ they craft decadent Nigerian characters around high-placed individuals like Lai Mohammed and Aliko Dangote.

As noted earlier, SDC's stress and fatigue, as older Nigerian millennials and rap veterans is starting to tell. On ‘Bright Skies,’ Ghost raps that, “They say my grey beard is due to stress from the weight of making thoughts connect…”

On the same song, Tec also says that, “Approach it like my last so it’s cool to see/We bang out, do it for those who believe/Might be my Last dance so I shoot the three…”

On ‘New Norm’ he also rapped that, “In CEO mode, that’s my new flex…”

As anyone knows, Tec is a stakeholder on the ‘Tems to the world’ train and he looks to bring in more talented, young Nigerian acts.

If 2021 is truly the end, it would be a sad ending to what could have been some impressive gracious years. More importantly, over the past three years, Tec has grown into his own, where he effortlessly bosses songs with his highly Nigerian storytelling and basketball references.

In fact, ‘Clone Wars V: The Algorythm’ is Tec’s moment after finally getting out of Ghost’s obviousness and typical Hip-Hop bravado and building his own mega chain - at least to some fans. But all good things must come to an end.

At the top of the food chain is Reminisce, Tomi Thomas and Shalom Dubas - who has been on a roll since 2020. Reminisce sets himself apart like a man possessed - word on the street says his verse was done in one take. Alpha Ojini and Tomi Owo belong to the next cadre. Ojini extends his scary improvement and evolution.

However, Ogranya - although amazingly talented - struggled with his contribution to ‘Streets.’ His delivery was rough around the edges, almost like he struggled with the beat. MOJO was even more disappointing, even though he picked up in the final embers of his verse.

‘Vipers’ is an enigma. Musically, it’s not as exciting as promised but it has high potential as a single, maybe even higher than the instant fan-favourite, 'Tycoon.'

The ‘Clone Wars’ bar is set on a high as possibly Nigerian Hip-Hop’s greatest franchise. ‘Clone Wars V’ will be better than 90% of most rap albums that will drop in 2020, it’s the second weakest ‘Clone Wars’ project.

The problem is that ‘Clone Wars V’ struggles to consistently produce strong, memorable music on the level of CW4, CW2 and CW1. A lot of that is also because the tracklisting led with some of the imbalance records where Tec - mostly - or Ghost outshine one another.

That said, ‘Clone Wars V’ is the most realistic of all. The rest produce good music about known topics, but CW5 is more reflective and its topics aren’t as polished. They don’t just peruse topics, they go deep with scenarios like Ghost’s barbershop tales on ‘Bright Skies.’

While ‘Clone Wars IV: These Buhari Times’ remains a bar that most rappers only attain once in their careers, ‘Clone Wars V’ is similarly topically cohesive.

In terms of bars and metaphors, only CW4 might outrank CW5. Show Dem Camp is on another level here. More importantly and as noted earlier, Tec is on scary demon time.

Sonically - not lyrically, the opening one minute and 10 seconds of ‘Human’ is the best moment on this album, followed by the beats to the opening three records and the hook on ‘Bright Skies.’

Also noteworthy, 'Draw Me Close' marks the fourth time in under one year that Nigerian acts will use the splice sample that forms its dominant chord. The other times are Vector's 'Early Momo,' Tomi Thomas' 'Waiting' and Apex and Bionic's 'IFE MI'

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: 1.5/2

Themes and Delivery: 1.7/2

Production: 1.5/2

Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.5/2

Execution: 1.3/2

Total:

7.5 - Victory

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