In the early months of 2017, I was driving in Akure, Ondo State when a friend called me to rave about Teni’s new song titled, ‘Amen.’ I had to park and listen immediately. I thought it was good, but not good enough to truly lead to a breakout.
A few months before that, we had discovered Teni’s IG page in its comical glory. She oozed natural showmanship like a modern day Charlie Chaplin. Then, I heard ‘Fargin,’ but I was still unconvinced till I heard, ‘Wait.’ The final few seconds of that song blew my mind just as her one-take freestyles on social media hooked me.
From there, she didn’t stop. After winning Rookie of the Year at the 2018 Headies, she went on an incredible run of three hit singles, ‘Askamaya,’ ‘Case’ and sentimental fan-favourite, ‘Uyo Meyo.’ She was on a roll, then blips started.
Naturally, she’s a creative who doesn’t want to be pigeonholed, so she started taking risks with songs like, ‘Party Next Door,’ and ‘Sugar Mummy.’ Unfortunately, they tanked. Her attempt to come back to what works with, ‘Power Ranger’ was let down by a combination of a terrible video and unfair criticism from listeners.
Amidst the madness, she has been touring the world, meeting industry giants of western music and collaborating. In a little over a year, her life has transformed. While her own singles might not be working, she has been killing features for fun since 12 am on January 1, 2019.
On October 4, 2019, she released her latest single, ‘Billionaire’ and announced her EP of the same name. On October 11, 2019, the 6-track EP dropped. Again, ‘Billionaire’ (the song) has been met with lukewarm reviews.
Here is a review of ‘Billionaire EP’;
‘Nowo’ is the Pheelz-produced hi-life song. In Yoruba, this sound is called, agidigbo. Fuji artists like King Wasiu Ayinde Marshall have experimented with it to critical acclaim and commercial success in the past.
Teni reached into the past to influence the present. On it, she borrows from classic juju deliveries with the soul of a modern-day pop star. The song tells a story of Teni’s suitor from whom she craves proof of love. It’s a good song, but it lacks an x factor and it's unlikely to be what Teni needs right now.
‘Billionaire’ is also produced by Pheelz. It merges afro-house with Pheelz’s trademark gbedu as we heard on Olamide’s ‘Oke Suna.’ Like ‘Nowo,’ it feels like another chronicle of a seeming teenage love affair. It’s also a good song, but like we’ve seen so far, barring any late changes, it’s not going to be a hit.
The EP rolls on ‘Complain,’ which is the best song so far. The dancehall/moombahton sound discusses the good life filled with money and partying. The song is so good, even the vocal sample on 1:36 is infectious. But sadly, it will be too risky for a single. If it pops, it will be huge. If it doesn’t, it will tank badly. Shout-out to Jasynths for this one.
‘Super Woman’ borrows from Phyno’s ‘Oliver De Coq-bag,’ of eastern hi-life. To be honest, this is a forgettable song.
‘Shayo’ is a magical song. It feels like Teni of the early parts of 2018 mixed with a dash of the current one. This writer was not there when the song was created, but on it, it seems rediscovers that freewheeling creativity that's been missing.
‘Online’ is average. The bit is good, but Teni’s delivery just isn’t it.
When new acts burst onto the scene like Teni, it can be hard to balance the new demands of their career with their natural brilliance at making music. Touring, media dates and being the cynosure of all eyes can add pressure like never before.
Most people struggle with it, but a few are able breakthrough. Those who breakthrough usually have great singles after their first great cycle of success - Teni didn’t have that. Sadly, Nigerian music lovers are unforgiving and judgement adds pressure. It seems that’s what we’re seeing with Teni. Something is obviously missing.
Teni came onto the scene with apparent panache and this visibly and sonically felt air of freewheeling creativity. That was why she would create random freestyles on her Instagram page and we will be in the comments section begging her to drop those songs.
That air is lost. This writer might be wrong, but it seems some tension and pressure have replaced that freewheeling, organic creativity. However, it’s not all lost. Teni has the talent – if anybody can find it, it’s her.
First off, the risqué beat choices have to stop. ‘Billionaire’ is a good beat, but it might be slightly too risky for this terrain at this time. Asides ‘Super Woman,’ all the songs on Billionaire EP are good. However, it’s hard to see anyone of them become that hit which Teni needs.
On beats like Wizkid’s ‘Joro’ or ‘Ghetto Love’ or Tekno’s ‘Skeletun,’ Teni will do a madness. It’s fine if she wants to do it her way, but time is running out. The songs on this EP remind of what I felt after i played, 'Amen.'
• 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
Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.5/2.5
4.8 - Average