‘Fuji The Sound’ is a timely reminder of KWAM 1’s greatness and timeless artistry [EP Review]

‘Fuji The Sound’ is a timely reminder of KWAM 1’s greatness and timeless artistry [EP Review]

<p class="">Someone should tell <strong>Frank Ocean </strong>to relinquish his title to <strong>Nostalgia Ultra. </strong>That title now belongs to <strong>Fuji The Sound. </strong>This EP weaves between sonic eras to give us a recreation of some of the songs that soundtracked our childhood and youth. </p>

<h1>In the 70s, 80s and the 90s, Nigerian music was mostly enjoyed via traditional genres like Apala, Fuji, Juju, Highlife and many more other genres across the country. But as Fela turned Afrobeat into a phenomenon, the mainstream also fell in love with foreign genres like Rock N’ Roll, Electro-Pop, Quiet Storm and the likes. </h1>

<p class="">By the late 90s and the early 2000s, Nigerian contemporary pop got birthed. The younger Gen Xers slowly moved away from those traditional genres into Hip-Hop, R&amp;B and the earliest versions of formless Nigerian pop. Sensing a change in the atmosphere, Fuji artists led the way with foreign/westernized infusions into their music. </p>

<p class=""><strong>Pasuma </strong>became <strong>African Puff Daddy </strong>who serially collaborated with pop stars<strong>. Obesere </strong>became more avant-garde in his fashion, <strong>Saheed Osupa </strong>sang more in English and <strong>Shako Rashidi </strong>became <strong>African Little Bow Wow. </strong></p>

<p class="">On the Apala side, <strong>Musiliu Haruna Ishola</strong>’s classic, ‘<em>Soyoyo</em>’ featured a rapped verse. <strong>Dele Ojo </strong>also did the same with his classic number, <em>‘Terena.’</em></p>

<p class=""><strong>Adewale Ayuba </strong>evolved drastically as his songs tied directly into pop culture. He was always the most attractive brand in Nigerian Fuji as he intersected the traditional Fuji with the cool, but by his 2001 album <strong>Turn Me On, </strong>he had drastically changed sounds and fused with pop culture. </p>

<figure class="embedded_application" align="center"> <figcaption>King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal – Classical Fuji in Berlin</figcaption> </figure>

<p class=""><strong>King Wasiu Ayinde Marshall [KWAM 1] </strong>was already a great of Nigerian music by ‘95 and he had little to prove so he remained true to their form and style. What he switched was his mode of delivery – starting on his 1991 album, <strong>American Tips </strong>and majorly on his 1997 album, <strong>Berlin Compact Disk</strong>, he made better love songs, sang more in English and even made Latin pop in 2001. </p>

<p class="">Fast forward to the 2010s and 2020s, those traditional/mainstream genres have been relegated to the background by Afro-pop, but whenever they come up at owambe or regular gatherings, people lose their minds – they induce nostalgia like no other. They are also a way for wannabe music lovers to fake depth. </p>

<p class="">On August 21, 2020, Nigerian legend, <strong>King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal </strong>released a compilation album titled, <a href="https://www.pulse.ng/entertainment/music/nigerian-fuji-legend-kwam-1-releases-new-single-awade/brtqtvz" id="f77259b4-d0d6-4ab2-841f-b4b1dcac2659">Fuji The Sound.</a><strong> </strong>While he didn’t employ a drastic pop appeal in the late 90’s and early 2000s, he did on this six-track EP. The result is like a fusion of <strong>KWAM 1</strong>’s greatest Fuji hits delivered in the most eclectic, contemporary fashion. </p>

<p class="">He had attempted the same in 2017 as he infused<a href="https://www.pulse.ng/entertainment/music/the-sound-podcast-kwam1-is-adding-trap-randb-to-fuji-music-episode-22/5bwnqsy" id="77473917-e7ae-4fb8-951a-e5b7cb36e780"> Trap and R&amp;B into Fuji. </a></p>

<p class="">Now affectionately called “Alhaji” by everyone close to him, <strong>KWAM 1 </strong>is now based in Ogun State. He is also an elder statesman who didn’t have to make a more contemporary album of this quality. Yet, to his credit, he has dug in deep into his artistry to unearth a fusion of his Fuji background and more contemporary sound without feeling out of place at 63. </p>

<figure class="embedded_application" align="center"> <figcaption>Kwam 1 ‘ Awa de audio</figcaption> </figure>

<figure class="embedded_application" align="center"> <figcaption>Awade</figcaption> </figure>

<p class="">Nothing better underlines this brilliance than 3:29 on the opening track. ‘<em>Awade’</em> has always been an amazing song. Its original is a nine minute masterclass in music that is one of this writer’s favourite songs ever. Nigerian albums that are based on traditional genres have longer tracks, but <strong>KWAM 1 </strong>has managed to adapt to current realities and shortened his tracks on this EP. </p>

<p class="">Even more curiously, this Alhaji quoted the book of Genesis on the track. ‘<em>Awade’</em> might be the best Nigerian album opener of 2020 – its instrumentation feels like merging contemporary, eclectic Nigerian gospel instrumentation with Fuji classics. <strong>Adekunle Gold </strong>would have done a madness on this track. It is based on Alternative Rock instrumentation, Fuji-Rock-Fusion percussion and colliding melodies. </p>

<p class="">Most artists struggle to match the brilliance of their original projects on reboots, but <strong>KWAM 1 </strong>might have just released his best version of, ‘<em>Awade</em>’ yet. While the original version of, ‘<em>Sholoko Bangoshe</em>’ is way better than<em> ‘Extended Play,</em>’ the creators of this new version must be praised for sonic imagination. </p>

<p class="">On ‘<em>Extended Play,’</em> they recreated Fuji on Ghanaian <em>pon pon</em> sound. And somebody tell<strong> Naira Marley </strong>they this writer disobeyed him when <strong>KWAM 1 </strong>went into his bag and said, <em>“O ju’di pa pa pa pa pa, O s’owo ma ma ma ma ma ma, Ota ko ni ya f’oko…” mo fo pa, man</em>. </p>

<p class="">In English, <strong>KWAM </strong>says of an ‘endowed woman’ who is dancing before the character he embodies, “She’s viciously shaking her butt and arms [while dancing]…” Such amazing vulgarity on wax. Shout-out to <strong>Mystro </strong>for his work here…</p>

<p class=""><em>‘Majo Nisho’</em> shares a similar arrangement and percussion to <strong>Del B</strong>’s work on <strong>KCee</strong>’s <em>‘Pull Over.’</em> Yet, it sounds like the performance of a Fuji band at a wedding or burial on Lagos Island. <strong>Mystro </strong>also deserves commendation for how he fused the Konga drums, Guitar chords and trumpets on the original song into this new version. </p>

<figure class="embedded_application" align="center"> <figcaption>OUT NOW on all online music platform
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#fujimusic #kingwasiuayindemarshal #wasiuayinde #kwam1 #kwam1deultimate #omogbolahan #legend #fujimusician #kwam1_official @orbitent_ #muslimquotes #king #legend #arabambi @k1deultimate @shoreslounge @mwevents_live #sikiruayindebarrister #pasumawonder #atawewe #adewaleayuba #obesere #abassakande #omorapala #saheedosupa #kollingtonayinla #ironuopapo #ks1malaika #tayecurrency #bonsuefuji #adewaleayuba @kc_k1deultimate</figcaption> </figure>

<p class="">That part, “<em>Alhaji Wase, oo de so’lu simi n’ibadi ki’n mu’jo Alayinde, Haba!”</em> is as wild as it is hilarious. In English, it means, <em>“Alhaji Wasiu, play the drums, let me dance KWAM 1’s song…”</em> The adlbs that followed are as hilarious in Yoruba as they are in English. They are also too X-rated for this <strong>Pulse Nigeria </strong>article. I still like my job, thank you. </p>

<p class="">In the 90s, <em>‘Thinking About You’</em> was released as part of the<strong> Berlin Compact Disk </strong>album. The original was like a bedrock of street love. Singing a love song in English also helped <strong>KWAM 1 </strong>transcend markets at a time when foreign [love] songs were ruling the Nigerian airwaves. In the 90’s, the beat to this song was as unique as it was informative. </p>

<p class="">With Apala percussions, <strong>KWAM 1</strong> and his band used the piano and guitars to conjure up ridiculous melodies. He comes back with a more contemporary version of the song on a guitar-reliant R&amp;B/Pop beat. Even more interestingly, he sings in French as he was assisted by <strong>Toby Grey </strong>on this declaration of love. </p>

<p class="">Shout-out to the Yoruba men who used this song to cheat on their wives in the 90’s. </p>

<figure class="embedded_application" align="center"> <figcaption>k1 de ultimate – The message – omo naija</figcaption> </figure>

<p class="">Released in 2001 off the politically charged <strong>The Message, </strong><em>‘Omo Naija’</em> was a socio-political song aimed at critiquing waywardness amongst Nigerian youth. The song dropped at a time when sex education was becoming a core part of the Nigerian educational system due to an increase in unwanted pregnancies and fears of HIV spread. </p>

<p class="">At the time, pregnancy was a way to actually scare Nigerian youths away from having [unprotected] sex. When you look back at it, <strong>KWAM 1 </strong>was so culturally attuned that his albums always spoke or reflected the changing realities even though he never went all out with a change of name and feature roster like <strong>Pasuma </strong>or <strong>Saheed Osupa. </strong></p>

<p class="">In 2001, ‘<em>Omo Naija’ </em>was a radio-friendly tune that was attractive, not just for its message, but for the Calypso-sounding piano sample that formed its basis as well as the Trumpet solo that dropped on 01:04 and then again on 02:07. When you look back, ‘<em>Omo Naija’</em> was actually a Latin pop sound delivered in Fuji format – it was never a full Fuji song. <strong>KWAM 1 </strong>has actually always been a genre chameleon who constantly evolved. </p>

<p class="">This version of ‘<em>Omo Naija’</em> on <strong>Fuji, The Sound </strong>is created on a Soukous beat that would be attractive to the Francophone parts of Africa. The lyrics remain pretty much the same, but there’s greater emphasis on celebrating the Nigerian identity. He even celebrated the excellence of<strong> Anthony Joshua. </strong></p>

<p class="">Still that moment, “<em>Oooh eeeh, ota mi ko ni ya f’oko…”</em> will forever be one of the greatest adlibs Nigerian music has ever seen. That <strong>Teni </strong>verse is slightly underwhelming and that auto-tune is slightly excessive. </p>

<p class="">Alongside ‘<em>Awade,’ ‘Ade Ori Okin’</em> is one of the songs that compete with their original versions. </p>

<h2>Final Thoughts </h2>

<p class="">Someone should tell <strong>Frank Ocean </strong>to relinquish his title to <strong>Nostalgia Ultra. </strong>That title now belongs to <strong>Fuji The Sound. </strong>This EP weaves between sonic eras to give us a recreation of some of the songs that soundtracked our childhood and youth. </p>

<p class="">Some of the songs are awkwardly placed and arranged. The mixing on some of the songs are also subpar, but nostalgia will sell them. Aside from that, the timeless brilliance and artistry of KWAM 1 also means that only attentive music listeners will notice the lapses. Listeners will be too focused on appreciating <strong>KWAM 1 </strong>that they wouldn’t mind. </p>

<p class=""><strong>Fuji The Sound</strong> is also an incredible eye-opener into the sonic vision of KWAM 1 that most of us didn’t realize in the 90’s and 2000s. He was evolving with time right before our eyes and adapting his style with the time. We enjoyed the music but never truly gave him credit for his vision. This album serves as a timely reminder of that.</p>

<p class="">This writer is selfish enough to have desired a recreation of ‘Solo Makinde’ and ‘Berlin,’ but these will do for now. </p>

<p class=""><strong>Addition: When you remember that Fuji artists used to sing for hours and hours without lyrics, you wouldn’t think that rappers claiming never to write lyrics isn’t special. </strong></p>

<p class=""><strong>Ratings: /10</strong></p>

<p class="">• 0-1.9: Flop</p>

<p class="">• 2.0-3.9: Near fall</p>

<p class="">• 4.0-5.9: Average</p>

<p class="">• 6.0-7.9: Victory</p>

<p class="">• 8.0-10: Champion</p>

<p class=""><strong>Pulse Rating: /10</strong></p>

<p class=""><strong>8.0 – Champion</strong></p>



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