Album Review: Vector’s Lafiaji

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For his third studio album and first since splitting with his former label, Young Shall Grow (YSG), Vector retreats within and traces his hustle back to his roots.

Lafiaji, a popular suburb in the heart of Lagos Island, serves as home to the barracks in which the rapper spent his formative years and attended secondary school at the nearby Kings College.

Vector has since left the area behind, in search of greener pastures but the colourful culture that is characteristic of Lagos Island still holds its sway, prompting his return to extensively explore its meaning and influence in his life.

Lafiaji, the album, is big, sprawling and bustling in the way that the Island can be. It is also undisciplined and boisterous in the way that an independent artiste has a tendency to be.

But one thing the record isn’t is boring. The sounds and influence are a bit of overkill as Vector blends, hip hop, juju, highlife and pop music in one giant pot that constantly overflows its contents.

As a kid, Vector trailed his elder sister to her Olowu parish Celestial Church of Christ branch and credits the church for his extensive musical and instrumental knowledge. This sister, Shola Vibrate, now an established Juju musician (and wife to Juju maestro, Dele Taiwo), appears early on the record, on the title track,  voicing a carnival like solo opener that pays homage to both the neighbourhood that built them and the white garment church that formed them.

Vector continues this local streak on the guitar laced Adurah and the uplifting Fish Jaey’o which pays homage to juju music pioneer, Prince Adekunle.

Rap heads who worry that Vector may have crossed over to the more traditional path find their fears unfounded as Vector proves his rap skills are as sharp as they’ve ever been on the conscious but brief lament, All I Know (ft. Emmsong) in which he observes, angrily, You don’t have the right to tell me how to raise my son/or how to raise my daughter, or when to raise a gun…/…fuel price na your pikin you dey raise am very well.

Watch VIDEO: Vector – Adurah

Wherever there is substance to be inhaled; spiritual or medicinal, Choc City’s Jesse Jagz is likely to be found and Vector must have expended no effort luring him to contribute to the levitating Spiritual. Folks who have been starved of the errant, offbeat Jesse Jagz of Jagz Nation, will find themselves stimulated by this one. The sing song appeal of Zaddy is for the social media millennials and Generation Z-ers who like to fancy themselves rap fans.

Historically, for every excellent Vector rhyme that lands with a punch, he is likely to follow up with a WTF was he thinking howler. Lafiaji owns its fair share of such moments, but none more unforced than the Blaze n Booze skit where Vector drops head scratchers like; alcohol becomes your doom/ na then buffon go turn buffoon.

Because of its overarching subject matter, Lafiaji wouldn’t be complete without input from the streets and who better to bring the ugly truth than CDQ. The local rapper credibly rides a hard beat by Masterkraft that winningly incorporates Koji Kondo’s classic Super Mario Bros theme with local instrumentals.

The bulk of Lafiaji is produced by Vector and G.R.A.P Music’s LiciousCrackitt and it is easy to understand the dynamic playing out. Vector is supreme leader and has no one to check his excessive behaviour or call him to order. His freedom has come at a costly price and he wants to express it to the maximum.

This sense of muchness is eventually what does the record in as it suffers from a bloated sense of its own importance. This is immediately obvious in the clashing of sounds and styles that is the opening track, TDB (with Rotex.) On the song, Vector struggles to keep up with himself but constantly falls behind. The same can be said for the Lafiaji project. Audiences will want to keep up, will try to keep up, but Vector will prove all too overwhelming. And not always in a good way.

Album Name: Lafiaji
Artist: Vector
Year: 2016
Tracks: 25 (including bonus tracks)

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Wilfred Okiche

Wilfred Okiche

Wilfred Okiche is a movie buff and music head. He is still waiting for that one record that will change his life and remains ever optimistic. You can follow him on Twitter @drwill20

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