His 12th track is what you’re looking for. It’s the rationale for why Adekunle Gold has a debut record that sounds the way it sounds. Why it’s so different from the mainstream sound of these days, why it’s a beautiful piece of art, and why suddenly everywhere you turn, somebody is playing this new banger. The 12th track, aka Ariwo Ko, tells you that making good music requires no huffing and puffing. You need not scream to be heard. You need not shout at people who just want to dance.
Which is why Adekunle Gold’s album, somewhat predictably and appropriately titled ‘Gold’, is comparatively mellow. It is gentle on the ears. Its deep basses and thumping percussions do not overdo their tasks. Above all, his voice carries just at the tempo where the listener’s ears are gently caressed and heartstrings plucked.
Throughout the album, you will not hear any break into an obligatory rap verse– something that has become a given these days. You will also not hear a senselessly elongated song or producers and singers repeatedly chanting each other’s names before a track begins.
But there are other ways in which Mr Gold’s first outing diverges from contemporary street fare. For example, his songs are more sing-along. His folksy melodies are completed with lyrics that are not made to rhyme by force. It appears that the man is simply okay with telling a good love story with each track. Stories that resonate.
The structure of most of the songs reminds me of those old-style tribal rhythms which were filled with panegyric chants and oral tradition history. This is highlife and folk made for 2017. And that’s why it’s so refreshing.
When you listen to the collection one or two times, you’ll begin to hear the distinctive instruments, some of which sound like they were played live for the studio sessions: the talking drum, guitars, and horns. This is not your average hustler music.
It all comes down to how deliberate this record is. Everything, from the cover design to the titles that are hardcoded into the track data, suggests that Adekunle Gold didn’t rush into this project. He took his time. He reached the decision to not make it an all-comers, featured-artiste carnival, choosing instead to have Simi on a track or two. The man wants to sound like himself, not succumbing to the pressure of what’s currently hot or cool.
So, let’s go back to track 12. There’s some Indian influence in it. You can’t miss it. It is another reason why the song is important. Just like the first set of songs, it wasn’t created from the same template from which the musician built others such as Pick Up, Ready,Nurse Alabere, and Paradise. What this means is that there are still 12 tracks with almost individual personalities.
Altogether, I’ll say we need albums such as this once in a while. Vacuous tracks that speed along and blast your head with slang and empty sex can be tiring, you know. Gold is a cool album. You can listen to it back-to-back for three sessions at least. And for this, Adekunle Gold, we thank you.
Finally, before you go, here’s the just released video for Ariwo Ko: