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February last year, when Don Jazzy gave deals to Johnny Drille, the DNA twins and LadiPoe (aka Poe), it was well documented: the uniqueness of the folk artiste; the potential and charm of another P Square; this time under the tutelage of a man who has done it all. The rapper however, was the odd piece on the chessboard. Where did he fit?

For starters, The Mavins had no rapper. In earlier times, D’ Prince would fit the bill but with the successes of his pop singles who would begrudge a man who had found a way to make good money? Thus, they came the need for a Poe: a rapper who famously rapped about being sick of punchlines, instead; giving lifelines.

And his word is bond. To many people, Poe means many things. To the duo of Show Dem Camp, they no doubt see the talent they nurtured going further into this music business. To Don Jazzy, a bankable rapper who could be on a song with Tiwa Savage and not just relegate her to the task of coming up with a hook. To the early birds – such as I – who’ve been onto Poe since Take It Slow, he represents that proud moment of pat-on-the-back, where you’ve seen your guy go through the harshest fires in preparation and then, finally, the moment.
Long overdue, so Lets delve into ‘Talk about Poe’.

Talk About Poe begins with birth: a birthday song as Intro and Efya, the Sweet Ghanaian Enchantress, speaks of Voices, her vocals are like a lullaby, but Poe is a splash which takes sleep away. Like a storm he dominates, rapping over a minimal guitar before the drums arrive. Ghost of SDC makes a show on Double Homicide, no doubt a play on the number of rappers on the track.

Red Light provides Poe the platform to showcase one of his greater strengths: his ability to make a catchy song which actually passes as Hip Hop. He possesses the cheat code and Seyi Shay steals just enough to get the whole class a B grade listen. Tapping into the magic of Funbi’s crisp vocals on One Step Closer, Poe manages a duo of songs which could, in the hands of a lesser rapper, sound corny.

“I want to kiss the scar even though I left the bruise,” Poe raps on Falling. Quite the demon, isn’t he? Or he’s adopted a persona. Tems however, sounds personal and yet, detached. Her vocals dangerously thread a line between it works and it doesn’t. Mood continues into the easy vibe, as its title no doubt betrays. Listen closely however, to uncover gems, like Poe musing about his fears, about being labelled alternative; his mood: a stream of consciousness into which his body free fall.

Poe so far, might have shunned most sounds certified to get a listen but not the sound of his time: trap. He knows the diverse interests of his audience and on Win Win, he gives a cool kid’s fuck you to the political establishment, name dropping Kanye.

For TAP’s closing minutes, a conundrum is posed to us: how do you gloriously marry the words hello and goodbye? Where in time do you meet a person when he’s gearing the backpack, leaving yet again? How are the feelings spoken into existence? Poe’s woman wants him to stay – to shun the temptations of the world – as does the Spax instrumental, rich in its buttery and warm quality, the allure of its drums which provokes the image of home. Sir Dauda makes a floaty hook for this fleeing persona, but home is where the heart is. A classic theme of longing and love gets a makeover.

Another remake happens on Revival, which brings to mind a certain Eminem album, and the song too, begins in a firebrand style (“I don’t care about the top five”) peculiar of the Detroit rapper. And there’s a voiceover, perhaps a recorded phone call, before Poe proceeds to rap the album’s few lines of braggadocio. 

Like most songs, in their thousands and millions being put out on the daily, Talk About Poe will get its moment in the sunshine. Someone will listen to it, and if that person happens to somehow, share the same taste as me, the person will return to this for its several one liners which could make awesome Instagram captions. With the cover a bit misleading, the people will flock to this expecting Poe to go out of his comfort zone to rap about politics, and sadly for them, (fortunately for him, though) he will disappoint. Where this album doesn’t falter however, is in its scope and limitations – the thematic structure and the features. Contrary to popular opinion, you can be a major label artist and still not sell-out. TAP makes me genuinely happy for Poe, and excited for Johnny Drille’s (he would have made a good feature too) debut project.

Poe is a poet and man can really rap. On Revival, Poe likened himself to a false nine. People familiar with the technical terms of football will mention the false nine’s duality of function. Whilst he drops deep into the middle area for the ball to advance the play, his talent lies in the fact he’s the most prolific goal scorer in the team. Poe holds such spot in the music industry: he’s neither the punchline rapper we’ve come to expect to tag an emcee ‘good’. He weans his sound of the traditional boom bap, infuses enough “Nigerianess” to get a mention alongside the pop stars...in the ideal industry.

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