I’m a big EL fan and have been hooked since 2014’s The B.A.R mixtape. but nevertheless as a fan, I bought his latest album E.L.O.M (Everybody Loves Original Music), released towards the end of 2015, without even previewing it, his The B.A.R and The B.A.R II mixtapes were enough to convince me what a solid emcee he was.

“Kwame Nkrumah”, the opening track of E.L.O.M, convinced me the album was taking off where his mixtapes left. The song, which is not a song about the ex-Ghanaian president, sees El spit some heartfelt rhymes about his country and himself. It sets the tone, giving you a reminder of who the man is, where he comes from and where he’s going. He raps: “A young black proud African nigga/ forget your collabo, man, I’m tryna be rapping with Jigga/ Please. I never said that I’m better than another man/ I tell’em I’m the best artistic product from The Motherland.” At this moment I’m all smiles – I’m convinced E.L.O.M will be packed with bars and mid-tempo minimalistic production just like his last two tapes.

But El has a different plan. The second track, the lovey dovey pop-inspired “So Amazing”, sees El singing in auto tune more than he raps. I dismiss it as one of those “radio songs” made by El the businessman; it’s also not a bad track anyway.

But then the third track – “Watch The Way You Dey Waka” takes the same path. The fourth one, too. At this moment I’m convinced this album is not made for me. It’s replete with flirtations with pop through excessive auto tune singing and multi-layered high tempo beats. I’m asking myself, “Where are the raps?” “Don’t Let Me Burn” takes the same route but wait, it actually bangs! There’s no rapping on it, but it’s more dancehall than pop. I’m impressed by the simplicity in the lyrics. It’s simple yet moving. Like really, who makes a song about lying and it still sounds this dope? That bass guitar sound and that clean sound like something off a Bob Marley song and so is the poetic content. “My mama told me one lies is two lies and three lies is more lies/ If you lie, then you die then it’s bye-bye, oh boy, bye-bye,” he sings on the hook. My iTunes has made this song a favourite because after every listen, I press repeat. More than once.

I like the catchy “Mi Na Bo Po”, it makes me happy, even though I don’t understand much of the lyrics. The rest of the album is just hit-and-miss for me. “Bolemor”, with another of my heroes Nigerian dancehall singer Patoranking, is another track I like, even though there’s little-to-no rapping. Even the song with Sarkodie and Dex Kwasi just doesn’t hit the spot – at least for a rap fan who expects bars back to back.

Credit: Sabelo Mkhabela

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