Wow Zlatan! you did that 'Resan' [Pulse Album Review]

Zlatan, take a bow. But we probably should have known - the high-level sonics of 'Lagos Anthem' offered us insights into his headspace, we just didn't pick the cue.

Zlatan - Resan. (OneRPM/ZANKU)

Zlatan’s debut album, Zanku was problematic and scatterbrained. For one, it felt like Zlatan created an album without a set direction and the music severely suffered for it. More importantly, he failed to crown a spectacular year with a momentous body of work.

In 2020, he released Road To CDK, a more methodical, more cohesive and much improved, but slightly one-dimensional EP. He followed it up with Mainland To Island, a pure Rap collaborative EP alongside Oladips. It reminded his earliest fans that he hasn’t forgotten his Rap background. And boy, did he deliver?

Over the past two years, Zlatan has constantly shattered this writer’s prediction for and expectations of his career by lasting beyond 2019 and constantly playing a cat with nine lives. He has become a label boss and serial hitmaker - as a lead artist and a feature. Anytime Zlatan looks like slowing down, something brings him back up. In 2020, he slowed down and came back with cultural anthems with ‘Cash App’ and ‘Lagos Anthem.

But nothing can prepare anybody for Resan, his sophomore album and overall fourth body of work. Ladies and gentlemen, Zlatan didn't just ace the album, he signifcantly excelled and produced a beautiful album.

For one, he significantly stepped away from a trusted collaborator like Rexxie, in favour of producers like Steph and Timi Jay, and it brings surprising, refreshing and alluring range to his music. Just listen to the saxophone magic at the end of 'Alubarika.'

The result is a smooth album, which thrives on explosive, yet methodical melodies in an orderly manner, with segues and smooth track-to-track transitions. While Zlatan’s topical conversations and themes are still quite basic as a five-year veteran, a listener can’t exactly hold on to that or totally begrudge him.

For example on ‘That Guy,’ Zlatan didn’t really say anything special. Even though his grass-to-grace theme is resonant, he didn’t really say anything special to elevate the topic. However, the overall musicality of that record is just too high that the average listener might not even notice its technical deficiencies.

‘That Guy’ is built on amazing sonics from the staple of Chech, who blended Kel P-esque percussion with Rexxie-esque percussive progression with impressive instrumentation from a saxophone, an acoustic guitar and synth-pop strings. Everything is then crowned by the choral backup, which elevates the record. The record might just be Zlatan’s best yet.

Moreover, he’s a pop artist with roots in Rap music.

Island To Mainland’ already proves that he’s a dope rapper. ‘Resan’ belongs to the realm of lamba, where a different rule of engagement applies. On his sophomore album, Zlatan is a simple popstar on a quest to make bangers and sweet radio-worthy, party-worthy, groove-worthy lamba, and he did just that, and deserves full credit for it.

Artists seldom recover from a debut album as bad as ‘Zanku,’ but Zlatan proves that it is possible. From a sentimental standpoint, it’s also nice to see that Zlatan can grow artistically, creatively and as an A&R of his own music.

Even when he could only do obvious things like feature Phyno and Flavour on ‘Fada,’ in his quest for South-Eastern appeal or feature Sho Madjozi and Rayvanny in his quest for pan-African each on ‘Energy,’ a listener can slightly cringe at the basic vision, but both outputs are good enough to validate his ambition.

Both tracks also prove that excellence might not require a lot of uniqueness, especially when you can elevate the simple things with creative excellence. For example, ‘Fada’ is built on culturally resonant sonics that appeal to both Yoruba and Igbo. Zlatan might have delivered in English, but he didn’t become someone else - he remained Zlatan Ibile and produced a highly resonant and sticky hook.

On ‘Energy,’ he produces his famed adlibs to match a fast-paced record and the energy of both Sho Madjozi and Rayvanny. However, 50% of his job was done by picking the perfect beat - which is a recurring theme throughout this album.

Even ‘Alubarika,’ another predictable and obvious choice record, which features a rave-of-the-moment like Buju, sounds better on this album.

More importantly, ‘Resan’ has range. ‘Energy’ is tailored towards Southern Africa and East Africa. ‘Fada’ is tailored towards South East Nigeria. ‘That Guy’ is built on top-shelf, imaginative music. ‘Shakur’ is a Drill record, on which Zlatan flaunts his flow range. ‘Polongo’ is a Konto record, which Bella Shmurda crowns.

Egun’ is such a beautiful love record, produced by the mercurial P Priime. By far, the record is Zlatan’s best performance on this album. His topics are crisp and progressive. His punchlines and metaphors are sharp and the musicality of his hook is amazing. The record is built on church music templates, with hints of Igbo Udu in its percussion.

The only thing missing is an Olamide feature.

From the opening melodies of ‘One Life,’ a listener is glued to the Amapiano Fusion.

Across the album, Zlatan uses backing vocals/vocalists to amazing results. Wow!

The fact that ‘Money,’ a track which features Davido, is the weakest track on this album says a lot, because the record has ‘hit signature’ written all over it. ‘One Life’ should have featured Davido, not ‘Money.’ 'Shakur' also needed an Idowest feature.

That cover art is not good enough, but with this quality of music, we’d forgive Zlatan’s crooked art.

Zlatan, take a bow. But we probably should have known - the high-level sonics of 'Lagos Anthem' offered us insights into his headspace, we just didn't pick the cue.

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: 1.9/2

Themes and Delivery: 1.1/2

Production: 1.9/2

Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.9/2

Execution: 1.6/2

Total:

8.4 - Champion

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