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these buhari times sdc

Riveting. That’s the word that best describes the duo of Ghost and Tec’s music. You’re instantly pulled to get off your feet and clap till your hands hurt. Praise however, isn’t the heights to be aspired to. Focus on the lips to find a thin smile but it is quickly hushed away for continuity. Kind of like the energy in an arena when the battle rapper producers a pun or punchline so unbelievable everyone screams and lose their home training.  

With three projects in their much lauded Clone Wars Series, Show Dem Camp took a year off from the hard hitting themes-trio of braggadocio, political commentary and cultural relevance that dominate the series. Announcing Palm Wine Music, they were master artists who saw the larger picture in the minuscule artistry of a selfie.

Till today, Feel Alright, featuring BOJ, still fills in as their biggest song. Show Dem Camp created a fun song which didn’t suffer from the usual over fruitiness of pop music. But more importantly, didn’t suffer from the heavy handedness of their lyrics, either in deference to Hip Hop’s classic pattern or overly self consciousness of their skills. Feel Alright was the framework for what would become Palm Wine Music.

In 2016 and its consecutive year, they built on it and with twenty songs and numerous collaborations within and outside the country, they made Palm Wine Music not just a line in a song, but a sub genre, an evidence of their versatility and more importantly, a testament to what should be Hip Hop’s aspirational heights: inclusiveness.

Headlining their own show in December and being major participators in other shows including the Mainland Block Party, Show Dem Camp’s discography made sure they had enough songs to spin off on a stage, with rousing replies and plenty of fan favorites to call up. Some of these names include frequent collaborators Funbi and Poe, Moelogo, Burna Boy, Tems, Odunsi, etc.

The Palm Wine Music series was a necessary ode to the brighter hues of the geographical and musical culture which built them (Show Dem Camp and the listeners) but after the dirtiness of their Decembers, 2019 is another year of reckoning. Four years is a mighty long time to live under mediocre government and like the previous trio of the Clone Wars Series, Show Dem Camp has released music which will effectively reflect the times – These Buhari Times.

City of Excellence, Lagos’s motto, serves as the  title to the opener. Ghost features first, with him rapping “fuck Olokpa” just before the beat drops. Tec’s brilliant opening bars (“since Clone Wars 3 I’ve been impatient/too much palm wine can leave you intoxicated”) show just about where their hearts are.

Savage (ft. Poe) and Respect, Loyalty and Honour (ft. M.I Abaga) are nods to their religious dedication to the craft. On the former, Ghost goes deep into his beard to pull a Mobb Deep reference while Poe summons a Jay-Z cockiness while closing his immaculate verse. Tec’s refreshing metaphors, full of vigor in its relatable quality, would take centre stage in RRH if not for M.I’s now becoming frequent pining for what-could-have-been regarding his ex label mates and “brothers.”

Cina Soul makes a luminous feature in Duade, filling every second of her appearance with a gold dust quality. Her vocals sound a throw back to the past but if you’ve heard something similar before, it’s because pain is such an universal thing to talk about. The rappers share glimpses into their encounters with male chauvinism, with Tec’s verse coming off as the more heartfelt. With each line, he peels into a truth very few could articulate without coming off as verbose. On Shadow of Doubt, there are existential questions thrown about, with Tems’s vocals the hardest question: is her voice tweaked by a vocoder or is she that unique? (Go listen to Mr. Rebel by her BTW)

Epigenetics features a maximalist Spax behind the boards: there’s a whooshing sound and a flurry of drums which prove second skin to the trio of rappers. Halfway through, Packaging is the closest semblance to a socio political take. Ghost making a brag about buying a car couldn’t be nothing more than satire. So far, one of the few songs which plays into a larger canvass of political commentary. You would expect about seventy percent of that in this project but Show Dem Camp have opted for a more rounded discussion. So far.

Trust The Vibe is a literal take; an eighties funky bass playing through the background, both rappers floating through the beat like astronauts in space. The female backup vocals also do lend a transcendent effect.

Spax is classic, Spax is genius but Spax is the greatest, his production on 4th Republic seems to say. From the opener horns to the Fuji resembling drum sequence, he creates a setting expansive enough for the world building lyrics of Vector, DAP and Show Dem Camp to flourish. With the veteran duo being on perhaps the best posse cut (Crown, the titular track in A-Q and Loose Kaynon’s collaborative effort) of the year, this one just about runs away with second best.

234 and Hunger Cries have a close relationship with the bouncy sound of trap. On the former, Tec’s improvisational flow doesn’t quite work to full effect but understandably so. Ghost turns in a spirited hook for the latter but where they find comfort is the mid tempo production which floats through the 3:14 minutes of Everything is Love, a “10,000 Hours” sorta laid back flow adopted. No White Flags is classic boom bap, but with sonic embellishments marking every bar. Phlow turns in a verse which makes one wonder why she isn’t doing this more often (She has now released an EP) . Who’s Rotex though? That hook is SICK!

On the fourteenth song, Boogey makes an appearance. The heavy voiced half of Show Dem Camp goes in hard over an equally impressive Spax beat and Boogey matches the energy, his verse drawing parallel lines in theme to his output in Ikon’s Grow, off the producer/rapper Hungry To Live album.

That marks the closing scene of the project. After the sonic and theme limiting Palm Wine Music, the best selves of the Show Dem Camp duo come to the fore again. While most of the features of the earlier two projects fitted into a hook role, the likes of Vector, Cina Soul, Phlow and Rotex all box their way out of boxes, showing the expansive vision of the project.

As a flag off project in a year of political activities in Nigeria, CW4 manages to evade some large potholes. One case: with many artistes having a deformed view as regards to the words “political consciousness,” Show Dem Camp aspired first, to art but there are no mistaking where their loyalties lie in regards to political issues. When they engage in talks of politics, there aren’t forcing you to see through their eyes, instead, they engage the objective view point of the listener and leave you to take home whatever you’ve learned. (“Shadow of Doubt” and “Tipping Point”)

A solid start to 2019 for Nigerian Hiphop

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