The excitement that followed the imminent arrival of Clone Wars IV on Twitter days before its eventual release is again proof of Show Dem Camp's revered dominance among their loyal fanbase.
Show Dem Camp has grown an incredible reputation of consistency when it comes to project output. In terms of consistency, prolificness and growth with every project, it is hard to see anyone on the shoulders of mainstream rap who have put in as much as SDC within the same time frame.
Over nine years, the duo has released seven projects consisting of mixtapes and albums, setting a near impossible standard especially with the Clone Wars series, the type that only a legend like MI Abaga can match up to and A-Q or Olamide to an extent with their discography.
Fresh from the success of the second edition of the annual Palmwine Music festival, which was preceded by the Palmwine Music 2 project, the boys are now back in the building to gift their fans an early new year present.
'Clone Wars IV' is yet again a reflection of their growth and how they seek to push for something extra with every release as evident in what they achieved in 2018.
While they reserve their laid back and melody driven flows for the Palmwine projects, the Clone Wars series sets to remind us of who they truly are; punchline rappers who can also tell cogent stories touching on political and socio-conscious issues.
Often in hip-hop, anticipation, before the project is even released, is heightened by the stature of guest artists because every rap head loves a good lyrical match-up and Clone Wars IV packs more than a few truly gifted and exciting names with most of them bringing their A-game to the project.
From ''The Subsidy'' to ''The Recession'' and now ''The Buhari Times'', Clone Wars has always reflected an in-the-moment state of events providing them with a voice to be at their most vocal on societal issues.
And where the Palmwine series mostly functions as appetizers, Clone Wars is the real deal and this much was expressed by Tec on the opening track, 'Centre of Excellence', an ode to Lagos State, where there seems to be a lot of inner conflict as he raps,
''Since Clone Wars 3, I've been impatient, too much palmwine will cause intoxication''
Ghost's references also come heavy on the lead verse.
'Savage' is one of the cuts standout record, kicking off with slow drum synths, Tec is spitting bars, incisive and probing as he talks about politicians and declares;
''Stop calling that thing rap, we won't have it.'' Ghost's verse, from the way he set things off is the reason why he is compared to the Boogeyman coming to steal your soul as his flow is at its impeccable best.
While Poe, friend and affiliate of the Camp again proves why many look up-to him as the flag-bearer of the new generation as he puts a balance to their tale of political woes. On 'Respect, Loyalty and Honour', who else to feature on the subject matter than the legendary MI Abaga.
Tec outlines their contribution to the game, he seems to be really in the zone for this project while MI comes through with that familiar cocky and pristine flow as he speaks from the seat of the elder statesman.
''I look at SDC and I get envious, thought me and my team will be together for milleniums.''
In a period where topics like self-worth and depression is at its peak, 'Duade' contributes a few words to the subject, touching also on masculinity, as Cina Soul's opening vocals charms its way with Ghost delivering some grown man introspective bars.
'Shadow of Doubt' with one of my new favorite singers, Tems is another gem packed with engaging verses as Tems showcases a quite different niche to her sound. Over brooding back vocals, Ghost seeks for answers to the many questions troubling his free thinking soul;
''What's our purpose on this earth, are we free or are we slaves/ destiny and destination, are they different or the same? If God knows every move before I even choose a lane, do I have free will, does my future alternate?''
On 'Epignetics', littered with different pop culture viral slangs that emerged all through 2018, Ariskokrat affiliated rapper, Ozone takes the spotlight with his impressive verse that reminds his fans why there is a lifelong admiration to his style.
'Packaging' is a blast, a digestible and relatable banger, one that details the typical life of the average Nigerian who is accused of wrapping his deficiencies in false outlooks.
The Afrobeat laced, horns and drum heavy, '4th Republic' features fast-rising rapper, Dap The Contract and veteran Vector and while the latter drops a good verse, Dap doesn't settle for anything less than great as he throws his all into this, including the kitchen sink, striving for a moment and achieves it with a verse likeable in more than a thousand ways.
Tec's verse should be printed and replaced with every Sanwo-Olu posters across the streets of Lagos state, as Ghost lays the lid on this four-man rage.
While '+234' salutes where they come from, 'Hunger Cries' puts an honest perspective on happenings within that place.
'Everything I Love' keeps the tape's thrust going as they relate their love for their city to that of family and friends, Ghost again makes this sound like a walk in the park while 'No White Flags' with Phlow & Rotex is another that is worthy of repeated listens.
For the tape's bonus/closing track, Show Dem Camp brings to life a collaboration long anticipated as they team up with another talented and consistent rapper in Boogey on the very conscious 'Tipping Point' and as is norm, Boogey proves that he is not normal with a tip-sharp delivery without sacrificing his lyrics on the sickly laid instrumental bringing 'These Buhari Times' to a befitting end.
Show Dem Camp are the franchise players of Nigerian hip-hop in 2019 and Clone Wars IV embodies how they have settled into the status, delivering a consistently enjoyable project with a notable number of excellent highs.
Though Clone Wars IV falls meters short of matching the pleasure-centre overload that a classic like its third instalment delivered, this is another top-heavy project placing a cap on what has been an amazing run in the life of the Camp.
While the lyrics are largely expansive, the production choices see them settling yet again for Spax, the man behind the Palmwine sound who again delivers some 'Classic' sounds, even though there were nostalgic occasions where I felt like a Kid Konnect [The dominant figure on the first three instalments] special was required to reinforce that mixtape feel.
However, with 14 tracks, SDC delivered another properly themed tape, different from the first three, but coherent and innovative, one that is as refreshing as their past offerings and ultimately showcases not just their consistency but the higher standard of their abilities.
3-Worth Checking Out