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On ‘Gratitude,’ Timaya is Chulo, a mature and introspective man [Pulse Album Review]

Even though Timaya has released bigger albums, this is his most introspective project.

Timaya - Gratitude. (DM Records)

He has spoken about ‘Life Anagaga’ and showed ‘Gratitude’ for his journey and, he has told us, ‘Malonogedi’ while inspiring us to shake our ‘Bum Bum.’ He has also rebranded from ‘Dem Mama’ to DM and become ‘Papichulo’ or ‘Chulo’ for short.

All the while, his ploy has been to make feel-good Afro-pop music the best way he can. His story and style of music is also one of the least criticized because Timaya is never going to change and there is no reason to expect him to change. But here, there is a slight change.

His latest album, Gratitude comes on the heels of welcoming his third child with the stunning Dunnie. On ‘L.O.V.E,’ it seems Timaya makes music for Dunnie aboard a Reggae beat.

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Gratitude’ is a Timaya album filled with feel-good Afro-pop music, but this time his topics are from a more mature, calmer, introspective and inspired Timaya. The music is enjoyable and calmer.

In that spirit, Timaya sings, “Me I nor dey do gra gra…”

Commendably, he also bravely goes through 15 tracks by himself. While the album has some ‘vibes,’ Timaya stands tall and speaks resonant truths into the entire spirit of his album. He is still energetic, but his experience and veteran status shows in his music and he openly projects that.

On ‘Don Dada’ he sings, “I be their role model and their big boss…” Seconds before lauding himself, he also spoke about calling some people who don’t pick up.

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While he used to sing about partying hard and living fast he now sings, “All the money in the world I want to hold it, I don’t want to go to the club and blow it…”

His topics on ‘Iberibe,’ ‘No Limit,’ and ‘Local N Bougie’ still get very pop-esque and largely bland, but his topics across the album are more attuned to lessons from and of life. But guys, ‘Local N Bougie’ is a good record - whoop! How does Timaya pick these Afro-pop beats?

Timaya also speaks his truth too - both the savoury and the unsavoury. For a project titled with such a lofty title, Timaya articulates the right stories and shows the reason for his ‘Gratitude.’

This is a story of resilience, providence, pain and success from a veteran Nigerian superstar.

‘Don Dada’ stands tall as the pinnacle of this album, it represents every great thing/topic Timaya tries to project - good, great, bad and ugly. He might have called himself ‘Don Dada,’ but he gets to this point despite the issue, not because of the issues. What a record!

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He sings, “Na the people wey you show love to go f*ck you up eh… I pick them from the bus-stop, now if I call them, dem nor dey pick up… Slowed down, but I won’t stop, my level can never drop…

It is so dense and it sees Timaya at his most honest so far. He doesn’t just want you to dance, he wants to teach his listeners some key life lessons about success.

On ‘Something Must Kill A Man,’ he sings, “Pay your rent before you ball. Look for work, don’t kneel down… Build your house before you die...”

While the album is largely Afro-pop, that pop sometimes borrows from a wider range of genres. In the spirit of ‘I Can’t Kill Myself,’ his highly Nigerian record which is a Cardi B favourite, Timaya is back with ‘Something Music Kill A Man.’

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They are both songs which speak unavoidable life nuggets with a resigned tone. But while ‘I Can’t Kill Myself’ speaks more to the need to slow down when needed, ‘Something Must Kill A Man’ speaks more to the inevitability of death.

But despite that resignation to an inevitability, Timaya’s matured mind struck again. On the melodious Afrobeat record, he sings, “Something must kill a man, but e nor mean say man nor go plan. E nor say you must fall your hand…”

In that spirit, Timaya sings about his need to be left alone without worries on ‘Chulo Bothers Nobody.’ To him, if he bothers nobody, then he wants nothing to bother him.

Interestingly, he has been like this since Chulo Vibes. On ‘Stoopid,’ he sings, “Me I nor get time for nobody…”

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On the negative side, we got that narrative in different formats one too many times. Chulo doesn’t care, yes we get it - we heard too much of that.

Nonetheless, the fact that Timaya doesn’t get the credit he deserves from Nigerians seems like a sticking point. After Pulse Nigeria named him on a decade list in 2019, Timaya made a video where he told Pulse off.

On ‘Something Must Kill A Man,’ he sings, “I don’t give a f*ck about their credit o, I want to work hard for it…” That‘s defiance and ambition in one.

He also tries to hide how hard it is to come to terms with his veteran days, but it shows.

At the root of everything, Timaya is a man of faith. His belief in God shows throughout this album and he proudly attributes his journey and success to God. This is reflected on the Willis-produced Ogene praise song, ‘Okaka.’ It should have been the final track on this album.

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On the mellow Chillz-produced ‘The Mood,’ he once again thanks God after he sings, “If you vex me, I go leave you unto God…” This song could have done with a Fireboy feature though.

A lot of the songs on this album should have been 30 seconds shorter though. Even though Timaya has released bigger albums, this is his most introspective project. It adequately reflects Timaya’s current stance in life and largely reveals a different side to him.

The album should have also been three or tracks shorter. Timaya also thanks God on ‘Ebiola Papa,’ but this album would have been fine without it, ‘The Light’ and ‘Buru.

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Timaya’s tracklist should have also been;

Born To Win

Don Dada

Something Must Kill A Man

I Can’t Kill Myself

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Iberibe

L.O.V.E

Local N Bougie

Gra Gra

Chulo Bothers Nobody

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The Mood

No Limit

Okaka

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ratings: /10

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• 0-1.9: Flop

• 2.0-3.9: Near fall

• 4.0-5.9: Average

• 6.0-7.9: Victory

• 8.0-10: Champion

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Pulse Rating: /10

Album Sequencing: 0.7/2

Songwriting and Themes: 1.5/2

Production: 1.7/2

Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.5/2

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Execution: 1.4/2

Total:

6.8 - Victory

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