Review: Boy Spyce Has Come Like a Thief in the Night

Posted on

There is something biblical about the timing of Boy Spyce’s EP release. Not only was it released on Good Friday, a day revered in Christendom, but it also came, as that scriptural simile goes, like a thief in the night. This is a literal truth — Boy Spyce’s self-titled, five-track EP was released at midnight on Friday. One crucial detail I must state is that the singer has recently been signed to Mavin Records. This leap to fame was not by “grace” but by hard work, as he implies in the first line of the song Destiny. One need only look at his Instagram page for evidence of his work ethic.

Though the latest images on his Instagram account wear the polish of wealth — one perk of getting signed to a super-record label — sleuthing his account a bit further would let you glimpse his pre-Mavin, pre-Don Jazzy days. You would find an enthusiastic Boy Spyce, before the dawn of celebrity, in no-frills short videos, performing his covers of Wizkid’s Essence and Davido’s Jowo. What catches one’s attention, besides the rhythmic peaks his voice reaches, is how, like some dexterous seamstress, he knits words together. There are epigrams and homespun proverbs here and there, with nary a filler phrase. Without effort, rhyming couplets that do not just rhyme but arrange themselves into cohesive semantic units, click into place. Boy Spyce carries this gift of gab into his EP. Anyone familiar with the linguistic temperament of Nigerian pop music, which, more often than not is characterized by verbal barrenness, would conclude that Boy Spyce is, indeed, something special. 

This EP is the twenty-year-olds formal induction into the Nigerian music scene. His melodies are mostly accompanied by slow, gentle beats; but in the song Wayo, where he woos a certain cunning Philomena, there is a feast of percussion that the party-hardened lot will find most tempting. Yet, releasing party bangers every fortnight does not seem his métier; for now, at least. He is somewhat a hybrid of Brymo and Rema. He has some of the former’s poetics and some of the latter’s commercial appeal.  

Do not let his young age guile you. Boy Spyce, it seems, has nonage well behind him. He is youthful, yet wise; playful, yet capable of solemnity. One sees this solemn wisdom in Dreams, where a stoic Boy Spyce mourns the painful end of a relationship; and he does this without bile. It is likewise in this track that we see the full splendour of his storytelling technique. In the final song Destiny, there are more glimpses of wisdom as the singer warns against sloth.  

I wish now to remark on the EP’s curious cover art. On the cover art, Boy Spyce, whose real name is Ugbekile David Osemeke, sports a blank face. I think it is a look of defiance. Whatever it might be,  his face is only half as interesting as what he cradles in his arms: a rabbit. Draped over a blonde Boy Spyce is a lush blue coat that is as furry as the mammal he holds. Keen-eyed football enthusiasts will quickly associate that image with the one of Lionel Messi that appeared in Paper Magazine in June 2018. Messi, meanwhile, cradled a goat. Paper Magazine had sought to give visuals to the four-lettered honorific that fans of the Argentine have since afforded him — GOAT (Greatest Of All Time). 

I would have surmised, seeing how similar both poses are, that Boy Spyce may be alluding to that photograph of Messi, but there is hardly any hubris in this EP to lend solidity to that thought — except that one time he brags, for the sake of impressing a girl, that he is the “importer, exporter, number one car dealer in Africa.” At any rate, the rabbit is a tame creature, the epitome of humility and innocence; and the singer is mostly unassuming in this EP. In Bad Things, however, none of that assumed innocence is in sight. The singer poses, believably so, as a foreplay expert and a connoisseur of female anatomy. The larger point, of course, is that there are many aspects to the singer, and they all find some kind of outlet in this EP. There is the side of him that is philosophical; that which is sentimental; then there is Lothario. This variety of selves, and dare I say EP in its entirety, is the Spyce of life.

%d bloggers like this: