Album – About 30
Artiste – Adekunle Gold
Features – Dyo, Seun Kuti, Flavour, LCGC, Jacob Banks
Record Label – Afro Urban Records/Empire (2018)
Duration: 14 Tracks, 2 Bonus (54 Minutes)
Who comes to sell traditional goods in a modern market where the craze is about the flashy, quick-serving new products? Only outliers like Adekunle Gold do that. Art like his are like folklore from the mouth of grannies. Even with all the years of ‘advancement’, you still go back to them when you realise that in them are essentials of life that Google wouldn’t tell you.
Not when there’s The 79th element – a band of masterclass instrumentalists to perfect the sound composition and a mercenary writer like Simi; making sure good sound meets the right expression in words. Adekunle’s team is like an Avenger of artists bringing quality to every aspect of his art even down to the album cover art which depicts the panache of a journeying royalty – him, Adekunle Gold is the prince forging ahead in his journey of life. Interestingly, he just passed age 30 which definitely inspired the album title.
It’s true that when in love, the toughest guys are the softest; like Adekunle Gold was on the bubbly high life instrumental of Surrenda but soft hearts are easier for (Damn) Delilahs to stake and rip to shreds. It’s wise to just let that hard-to-get girl know that this lover boy won’t stick around forever, if she ever needs you, she knows where to find you. That’s what Call On Me, the last part of the About 30 experience is about.
AG alternates between situationships relating to love for most part of the album, although once or twice he entered the realm of the spirits, attempting to prove the existence of the creator – citing beauties of the world and miracles of nature as proof. Oh how calming is the LCGC (Lagos Community Gospel Choir) medley which brought the church-aura to the song – There Is A God.
Somebody might be about Simi or someone else shrouded from his public life but Mama is certainly a thoughtful ode to his mother who he describes as selfless, priceless and a superhero. We often hear of the potency of a mother’s prayer but a son’s prayer can be equally moving if expressed like Adekunle Gold did on Mama. Mrs Fola Kosoko must feel so proud of her boy.
‘Today na your turn, tomorrow na my own o. Watch out for me, I go make am without you sho gbo?’ on Remember, is perhaps the album’s most striking line. Even more jolting than Ire’s ‘the grass is greener on the other side.’ It is a painful promise, a powerful statement of self-belief that resonates from a place of hurt. The type you tell an ex that leaves you for a rich yahoo boy or what you say to a higher placed person who punished you for refusing to be his stooge when you’re about to walk out of his office. It’s a free-from-trap, watch-me-glow-up soft toned rendition.
Back To Start is a instructive reminder of the beauty of our traditional roots and cultural pride – the nursery rhymes, the moonlight games and cultural spirit that made the social life of our fore bearers so desiring; not the habit of trolling and savagery that we practise on social media today. It makes me feel like a stranger in a place where my forefathers once lived and thrived. Mr Foolish almost has the same effect except the Fela-inspired Afrobeat number is more expansive on the silliness of today’s world – the rush for opioids and craze for social media relevance. Fela’s seed, Seun Kuti plants Afrobeat realness in the song.
Like Gold, About 30 is a special treat of high life classics. The smoothness, the sonorous sounds and compactness of the project proves Adekunle Gold knows what he’s doing with his art. Well, he has always said he prefers to be the flavour of a lifetime over being the spice of the moment. About 30 however has an improved sound technicality, which could be attributed to the input of the 79th element. AG himself growing in confidence and maturing as a singer but as a song composer, there isn’t much to show he got better.
Adekunle Gold’s art bears cultural and allegorical messages that seems to have been lost in the process of hybridizing our music. While his contemporaries are rushing to the next new trend, ‘Dekunle is retracing the steps of his music fore bearers like Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey & Fela; like a man convinced that something important that’d be useful now and in later times has been ignorantly left behind.
Adekunle Gold stuffed ‘About 30’ with the kind of music we, millennials have heard our parents speak so affectionately about – music that mirrors the society, music that eases through the layers one’s soul to make deeper meaning and still finds a place to for dance. ‘About 30’ is the kind of disc you’d slot into the player when sharing a ride with your dad and friendly uncles. Luckily, if the ride is 54minutes-plus long and you get to go through the entire album, you’re likely to leave the car feeling a strengthened bond between you, your dad and uncles because you can all relate with the narratives and expressions regardless of the age differences. The ‘About 30’ experience is one with the kind of magic that tightens the familial bond of sequent generations.
‘Dekunle might be holding the long lost book of secrets to more life, from which he scoops his lyrics, styles them with new melodies and serves them in his songs; it’d be unwise to push these precious things aside and risk future insults from our scions who might point back to this time when we had Gold but failed to recognise it.
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