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PAPICHULO – the latest nickname Timaya goes by. He’s graciously worn the tattered clothes of Plantain Boy, flexed on his dreadlocks while he went by Egberi Papa. Now Papichulo, a monster for sound.

2018’s Bam Bam was the return to Nigerian charts and public gaze by a man whose music has made Caribbean nations a second home. His songs get far more love from outside than here these days. More than that return however, Bam Bam was the arrogant opening of the arms, a move by he who knows how and when to make a hit song. A project however, is different.

Early in his career, Timaya made songs which were agonizingly recognizable. As Plantain Boy, he was the revolutionary whose musical brilliance was in the heaviness of his theme and the soul with which he relays them.  Several years later, he still keeps that soul, but the theme has loosened.

Vibes: the new wave, the aspiration for Timaya and several other creatives who have turned into artists, turning their audience towards what is not easily seen or understood, but felt. It is on this premise that the Papichulo sound has been built. On this, he releases Chulo Vibes, his first project since 2014's Epiphany.

The project begins with Balance, a glorious throwback to Plantain Boy Timaya. The song begins with a tale aiming for relatability – the above all odds tale. The production is more Pop than dancehall, the songwriting careful and well structured, a stroll away from the looseness of the usual Egberi-papa. As an opener, it does set a balanced mood, a welcome wave to all who seek to be enthralled by the vibe.

The Mood features a stripped dancehall production, violin strings adding remarkable quality to its undertones; Papichulo continues the pattern of placing his vocals at the forefront of a song. Burna Boy makes a credible appearance on Pull Up, an early contender for song of the project.

Akuna is bass heavy, the Orbeat name tag justifies the fact. Timaya is crooning about a lady in a voice drenched in passion. Typical ‘I don’t care who you are, as long as you love me’ kind of song. However, trust Timaya to make a set of words quite the sensual refrain. Each word is deliberately placed, each note well sung. Number One (ft. Alikiba) threads a similar path to trademark Papichulo, a groovy sound which thrives alongside the East African vibe with which Alikiba arrives the record. Timaya, too, sounds more at home here.

I Can’t Kill Myself features a bit of culture commentary (“I see them complain of Kanye West/ him speak him mind, the people vex”), with Timaya offering nuggets of wisdom, validating his efforts by saying no matter what, the people will always demand something more. Many people will have this blasting out a car speaker on a Sunday morning soon enough.

Happy is a feel good song, dripping of so much self confidence as Timaya sings “I’m happy, I’m amazing,” and the feature Machel Montano delivering energetic verses, the first which begins with “I like your greatness…be you.” Stoopid brings a closer to the nine track but breezy listen of an EP.

“I’m stupid, stupid right now” Timaya sings, just catching vibes, the production elegant and horn based. Ending a project with such lightness, typical Timaya.

Having come a long way from that social and political commentator role that dominated his early projects like True Story (2007) and Gift and Grace (2008), Timaya has learned how to constantly adapt, taking time to study the times and reinvent accordingly. The fact that he called a 9 track project as an EP, (even though an Extended Playlist shouldn’t be more than 5/6 songs), points to Timaya wanting to appear contemporary with the times. It is this quality that has seen him remain relevant in the industry, almost fourteen years since his start-off. Right now, Timaya is Papichulo, the Caribbean adopted artiste of Nigerian descent, He is worldwide, He is that Big!!!

Chulo Vibes is an “album” made to build a bridge from Timaya, The Egberipapa that we all know to a cooler, reinvented Timaya, - Papichulo that will appeal to the new generation of Nigerian Music fans. You can see the effort from Timaya and his Management team to project Timaya in this new light and so far, It is working. As a musical work , “The project is a cultural cocktail of sounds , Timaya’s effort is breezy , cool and smooth, an accompaniment for: short journeys on a Sunday evening, a quick drink on a morning, the playlist for a night indoors with the lover.


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