Review: Ckay feels the burden of expectation on Ckay The First

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Michael Kolawole

Dtf (Down to F^*k’), the opening track, on Ckay The First, the sophomore EP from the Chocolate City signee, CKay, is saucy and bouncy. Its lively beat melds well with CKay’s dulcet voice. The lyrics are sultry, cheeky and bold. Ckay wants a girl to engage him in sexual relations, without any form of emotional commitment. He wants it to be a hidden kind of affair, where no one has an idea about their lecherous actions. Born Chukwuma Ekweani, Ckay began his career in Kaduna before he ran to Lagos to seek fame and wealth. In 2016, he inked a deal with Chocolate City as an artist and a producer.

I heard the name Ckay in 2017, when one of the hosts of the Loose Talk Podcast, Osagie Alonge, in a confrontation with MI, asked: “Who the f^*k is Ckay?” A few minutes later the Loose Talk Podcast episode went viral and Ckay became a trending topic on Nigerian Twitter. A couple of months later, when the uproar that greeted the podcast’s edition had settled, Ckay released an EP titled Who The F^*k Is Ckay? The EP was supposed to answer Osagie Alonge’s question and establish Ckay as an artiste to watch out for, but, unfortunately, it was bungling and bleak. The beats were garish and the lyrics were mismatched. The album’s outlier was the Fela’s sampled ‘My African Woman’. The song had awesome lyrics and decent production.

Two years after the debut misstep, Ckay is back with another EP Ckay The First. The eight-track EP is a blend of musical genres and influences. Way, featuring DJ Lambo, interpolates Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. The up-tempo track is produced by the artiste. The prosaic and unimaginative lyrics see him bragging about his deluxe lifestyle. His delivery is blasé. At best, he affects a nice cadence; at worst, the lyrics are like disjointed WhatsApp messages to a friend. And on the mellow and the throbbing Love Nwantinti (ha ha ha), Ckay serenades his lover by extolling her beauty and promises to be with her forever. The song is another testimony to Ckay’s delightful voice as well as a revelation of his poor songwriting skill.

Ski Ski is a delicious number but it lacks emotional nuances. Ckay sings about a girl that abandoned him for an Alhaji. He compares the lady (Angelina) to the actress, Regina Daniels. I wonder why the song wasn’t titled Angelina since the chorus tells us that it is the subject of his affection. Ckay needs to be more emotionally precise.

Like to Party, featuring the 100 crowns rapper Blaqbonez, is a delightful and laid-back song about Ckay’s love for clubbing. Ckay gently narrates his love for liquor, party, and girls. The uninspired Blaqbonez drops some weak bars that nearly maim the song, but the song still retains its groovy aura. Ckay features Boj on Oliver Khan. The song, a blend of Afrobeats and the South African house music, shares the same rhythm and melody with Wande Coal’s So mi so. Ckay wants to give his lover sexual healing in the back seat of his car and watches her sleeping on his bed. Boj, drawling, as usual, wants the lady to pay him attention because his love for her is as big as the late American professional wrestler, Yokozuna. Despite all the carnal talk, both artistes promise to be keepers and catch their ladies (à la Oliver Khan), and never let them fall. The Fela-inspired Kalakuta is a hedonic thrill. It’s about partying, drinking and enjoying life to the fullest. The song incorporates Fela’s popular “ofe se lu, ayakata” refrain into its hook. Its banging beat is a beautiful dance floor rhythm.

Barry Jhay, the son of the late Fuji legend Sikiru Anyinde Barrister and the crooner of the viral Fuji pop Aiye, bestows his honeyed voice on the closing track, Beeni. The song, which can be translated as yes, is about the miraculous way of God. It preaches that one needs to be grateful to God, no matter the situation one of one’s life. The song is a spotlight. It brings a charming ending to the album.

This EP shows that Ckay is still a work in progress. It’s an album that twists and sways, trying to find form and make a mark. The songs are vibrant and bursting in style. But they are not engaging. The lyrics are too basic to impress. The songs are tawdry radio pop fodder that won’t endure the bustling Nigerian music scene. Nonetheless, it’s an improved leap from his previous effort. Perhaps Ckay might hit the bull’s eye on his next offering (that’s if he puts in enough work). One thing is clear: Ckay is an artist to watch out for.


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