A strong review of Nigerian Music
Year of release: 2017
As a talent, MonLee is one of the best we’ve got.
Scion of a celebrated maestro, he has been a willing student of music, MonLee’s greatest weapon has always been his voice- a rich, seductive powerhouse capable of scaling multiple vocal sprints- and he works it to fine effect here. He is as comfortable belting out smooth ballads as he is zipping through hard-hitting beats and there is hardly a song arrangement he cannot tackle.
As an artiste, it has been a slightly different kettle of fish.
His place as one of the country’s most prolific vocalist and producer is unimpeachable. He is the rare contemporary artiste to win equal levels of commercial and critical acclaim content producer and outstanding music producer.
For all of this success, it remains difficult to lock up MonLee into any musical genre beyond the broad contemporary pop strokes. While this ambiguity can be an asset, giving whoever wields it enough flexibility to swim and dodge, when it comes to matters like crafting an album, such busy body qualities can be a bit of a distraction.
MonLee’s debut cover album, Made of Music is a jack of all trades ambitions. He tried it all from pop to R&B and even western classic music. MonLee attempted to rein in his ambitions and inclinations into a giant contemporary pop umbrella.
The cover album starts off with an epic beatbox & accapella Game of thrones themesong rendition.
MonLee pulls out the stops for the R&B scorcher, Love Like This(Eazy Bob Wizzy Cover) and retreats on Inside Out(Chainsmokers cover) to Stuttering( Jazmine Sullivan cover).
The church boy in him arises in the stomping broad choruses of Because of you(Masterkraft cover) and Sin Na Sin(Tommy Maverick cover). A good portion of the cover album is dedicated to such life affirming, uplifting and motivational material. They sound nice but the really interesting stuff can be found on tracks like The Good In Me(Jon Bellion cover), Because of you(Masterkraft cover) and Wait for me(Johnny Drille cover ft Skiffy). He is playful, sings confidently in Hausa and pidgin and wins over even the most cynical of audiences with his earnestness and dedication to his material. It helps also that his music comes across as refreshing in an often bland landscape.
A Monlee and Skiffy collaboration on Wait for me (Johnny Drille cover), may seem like the year’s brightest idea. While competently mixed and mastered, it is stymied by a fleeting Skiffy’s appearance that in turn, does little to elevate the record beyond its humble limitations. The hip hop heads are attracted with the up tempo, groovy melodies of Padlock Life (Jay Z cover) and guest Danladi holds his own perfectly with his vibrant, punchy delivery.
Made of music is certain to attract the older crowd who may have found themselves edged out of pop music’s current trends. The groove is timeless.
Even when the radio hits aren’t outlined in their numbers, Made of Music cover album remains one of the most put together records this year. A fine return to form for MonLee, it speaks to the growth and evolution of MonLee– the man and the artiste.
It isn’t the stripped down confessional hinted by the title, but it is alive and burning with emotion. Sometimes that is enough.
All tracks were reproduced by singer and producer, MonLee.
JOE HEMAN Rating System
OPINION (Personal): 8/10
SKIP FACTOR: 6/10
THE VERDICT: 7.8/10