One thing about Blaqbonez is, his music and style may not be for everyone but you cannot deny his genius. Emeka the stallion is an honest pimp. While most playboys and f**kboys wallow in denial, Blaq has never been shy to admit that his hedonistic approach to love and relationships asides stemming from evolutionary animalistic human tendencies, also has roots in past trauma and is just a defensive mechanism to avoid future heartbreak or as the Nigerians call it… ”Breakfast.”
Blaqbonez set out to make a worthy sequel to 2021’s ‘Love>Sex’ and that, he achieved, also settling into the most authentic we have ever heard Emeka and stretching the possibilities of his creativity beyond what the fans and critics already perceive of his artistry.
Blaqbonez attains Super Saiyan status on this project by rapping more than he ever has on a project since 2018, one would think that he set out to prove that he can join the league of Nigerian legends who dropped rap projects that were also as commercially viable as pop records like Olamide, Ice Prince, Falz, MI Abaga etc.
In the words of Drake ”rap albums doing numbers like it’s pop…”
Furthermore, Blaq brings his pen to the party but leaves some of the autotune from ‘Sex>Love‘ at home, taking on more complex melodies and hooks by himself (with a little help from Oxlade background vocals) and shows that he’s been working on his singing.
Young Preacher is by far Blaq’s most experimental work and his most honest work since he broke into the mainstream.
Blaqbonez albeit being a typical Yoruba demon (Emeka is Igbo by the way), Femi named Lagos bachelor with the libido of a rug rat and the commitment issues of a white girl from Alabama. At the same time, the second testament of his hedonistic gospel is rooted in truth and honesty. More accurately, his truth, his honesty.
Just like on the last album, Young Preacher is curtain called by a trap song fully celebrating his hedonism. The mellow trap title track introduces us to the latest of Blaq’s dozens of alter-egos ‘Young Preacher.’ Blaq explains that though he’s against marriage he believes in the sanctity of fatherhood, a weird concept to speak about while checking the list of female body types in his body count.
A radio talk show aside accompanies certain songs acting as either intros or outros explaining the concepts of their parent track.
‘Hot Boy’ is a bass guitar-laced galala and late mix which could easily host a Santi verse.
”One song on the album could be about your girlfriend’ Blaq spits as he goes on to describe graphically his lustful thoughts towards Nigerian female celebrities like Nancy Isime and Diana Eneje. The Preacher connects his hedonism to childhood trauma and abandonment issues. At this point on the album, Blaqbonez is mostly rapping which is a very brave thing to do.
Turns out he was warming up for the magical, falsetto-laced, infectious hook by Lojay on ‘Whistle’, which can easily compete for hook of the year in the Nigerian music scene. Ruger would settle easily on this song too.
One could imagine this track as a re-enactment of last year’s ‘Bling’ with Amaarae and BNXN fka Buju, but it still sounds fresh and present.
Interpolating a Zinoleesky flow while referencing his sex playlist which includes Santi when dealing Alte girls and the Marlian Records artist when dealing with Trenches thots. The track blur the line between groupie and anti-groupie anthem.
Employing the multiple choral voices on hooks techniques popularized by Asake, but like with everything else on the album, minimalism is Blaq’s watchword.
The lead single and standout track, Jae5 produced ‘Back in Uni’ is next and falls perfectly into the transition of tracks. An unapologetic confessional of some sort about all the hearts he has left to hyenas and vultures in Lekki. Definitely a contender for the best song on the project.
The gospel takes a detour to chronicle pride in living within one’s means and investing smartly ”i’d rather put a mill in crypto, name brands don’t guarantee drip tho” he raps proudly on ‘Fake Nikes,’ another standout track with some help from SA rapper Blxckie and penthouse rapper Cheque. Blaq kept the features mostly hip hop too, another big risk that paid off and keeps the sound cohesive and unique from 80% of what’s in the mainstream Nigerian market.
The production on the tape is as unique and fresh as it is catchy and replay worthy as displayed on ‘Ring Ring’ and also as experimental as can be on Paul Play sample laced ‘Loyalty.’
Blaq impresses and taps into his R&B bag to carry what’s probably the melodic and sing-songy performance of his career, more impressively with minimal autotune. ‘Loyalty’ gives ‘Back in uni’ a strong run for best song on the tape.
The next track is the stoner girls’ anthem interlude ‘She Like Igbo’ ending with a funny skit, glad to see Blaq move his IG comic antics to spice up his music too.
Blaq channels his inner Burna Boy on Tekno assisted ‘Ess Mama’ and a standout performance by Bien of Sauti Sol and Takura on ‘Mazoe.’ Oxlade’s Backups spice up the celebratory ‘Star Life,’ which also chronicles the lonely side of celebrity life.
Again preaching the sex-fiends gospel powered by a lack of genuine connections due to past trauma.
With perfect transitioning, Blaq ends the tracklist from where he started on trap/rap songs ‘Back on BS’ and ‘ I’d Be Waiting.’
‘Shorty told me love is the highest vibration I told her I disagree’ he raps on the former as he woes a girl to cheat on her man with him, situations have never been more artsy and romanticized, the mellow vibes transition into the acoustic outro, which leads to Asa’s ‘I’ll Be Waiting’ sampled unto Blaq rapping about his successes and taking dumps on rappers like a hobby.
‘I sold out MO park no rapper can do that,’ ‘three top 10s I did it solo,’ ‘when they want to drop they go on my page to find something to copy.’ Now that’s a flex.
Flexing on ladies, flexing on rappers. The album bows us out with a rags to riches skit of a voice presumably Emeka’s mother’s.
The risk to rap more and use beats that cannot be easily categorized into Afrobeats or Afropop, keeping the features mostly rappers, minimalism in lyrics and performance, trusting more in his vocal abilities than Autotune all paid off.
Few things like the lacklustre Tekno verse, shortlived Cheque verse unlike the last tape where Psycho YP, AQ etc gave him a run for his money and Blxckie‘ ostensibly out-of-theme verse set the album back from a solid 10/10 performance,
Young Preacher is not the banger-filled classic that the last tape was but is Blaqbonez in his most confident and rawest form, the lack of bangers one can say is on purpose as he also took the risk to leave ‘Commander‘ off the album, in an era where Fireboy used ‘Peru’ to stat pad streams for ‘Playboy’ and Ckay used ‘Love Nwantinti’ from 2019, with a thousand remixes to statpad streams for ‘Sad Romance.’
On ‘Young Preacher’ Blaq does not mirror the poetry of Fireboy, the melodies of Rema, the hums of Ckay, nor the falsetto of Oxlade (via Autotune). Instead he brings rap Blaqbonez into a marriage with Mr. Boombastic and gives us a ragga, Alte-inspired Afro-rap album that sounds fresh and unique enough for us to bear listening to the same theme from the last tape without burning out.
Kudos to Emeka for adding some psychological and emotional context to his hedonistic gospel. Time will tell how this one ages. Bravo. Take a bow Emeka.
STRONG POINTS: Blaq’s rapping, thematic cohesion, Lojay’s hook on ‘Whistle’, Blaq’s singing on ‘Loyalty’
WEAK POINTS: Cheque’s shortlived verse and Blackie’s verse on ‘Fake Nikes,’ Tekno on ‘Ess Mama’
BEST/ WORST SONG: Mazoe, Loyalty, Whistle/She Like Igbo
VERDICT: A classic if it stands the test of time, a solid project, and an experimental success regardless.