Easily the best duo in the Nigerian contemporary music scene, it was only a matter of time before Falz the bahd guy and his female co-conspirator, Simi, got together to make something that lasted longer than five minutes.
And they chose an appropriate name for their joint project.
An Extended Play album, Chemistry, is not necessarily named for the science; see some of the pre-wedding-ish promo pictures released.
Some gossip: we know the developing story on the love triangle between Simi and two male musicians. By her left side is Adekunle Gold, the 30-ish eligible bachelor and multi-talented artist whose debut (one of the better albums released this year) featured Simi as an artist as well as production personnel. Their duet song, Don’t Forget, on Adekunle Gold’s Gold album portrays a passionate male character who must prove his fettle as a serious lover by first proving his economic independence.
By her right side is Falz, alter ego Brother Taju (TJ for short), a bespoke-clad fashionista lawyer and humorist-rapper who wears spectacles without lenses. If the reception of the songs they have done together so far is anything to go by, she clearly has better chemistry with Falz.
The duo have done what is expected of Nigerian musicians, judging by their earlier successes—Jamb Question, Simi’s song with Falz augmenting with verse of rap and Soldier, Falz’s song on his sophomore album with Simi assisting on the hook. Last year brought us the rather tepid 2 Kings album from two prominent local male rappers (Olamide and Phyno), but this year gives us a more delightful and gender-balanced duet album.
At 23 minutes and seven tracks, the EP Chemistry is named for the mellow love song featuring straight talk rap from the usually comical rapper, Falz. With a sparse beat and a rhythm interrupted by occasional piano choppings, Simi’s choral delivery is top-notch but the song is lost for its double-edged intentions. It is too burdened with the anxieties of its message to lapse into the realms of wit.
Foreign probably starts where Soldier stops. A branch from the idea of the concept song Falz has mastered to the hilt, this song is for those recently described on Twitter-sphere as having ‘international exposure’. Whilst Falz is able to work in his rhymes diligently with deadpan humour, Simi has problems passing through to the comical side of the sieve.
On Shake Your Body, a gangan drummer is recruited to give that juju flavour that will persuade folks in their 50s and 60s to nod and perchance dance to younger rhythms. A half-concept song that imagines a dance procession at a Yoruba Owambe wedding where the music has put everyone to their feet, Simi tries a short rap and outshines Falz.
Show me pepper talks about a relationship on the verge of going awry. The listener becomes a one man jury listening to the quarrel of two lovers. You guessed appropriately, it has something to do with infidelity and the pepper here is not quite a delightful tactile or gustatory innuendo.
Cinderella has beats that kick with urgency. With a call and response chorus and horns punctuating, this is one of the best songs of this EP and Falz is probably as great on his verses as he was on his classic sophomore album.
Want to has Simi doing that thing she does rather well with her silky voice, an icy cold croon that singes so deeply. With a feel-good rhythm that does not call much attention to itself, this song is easily a promenade, where two lovers evaluate each other’s game plan just before the games begin.
Enough might be one love song too many, especially with its borrowed Bollywood drawl. This song might just be Soldier revisited, since Simi apologises for using that delightful and appropriately directed expletive, “your father”. Sadly this is one of the weaker moments on the album, but it is not too weak for a repeated listen.
Chemistry is quite the experimental EP, breaking new grounds in the field of male-female singing duos. The first of its kind, it is definitely a laudable project for Falz and Simi. But, whilst it seals Falz’s recognition as a master strategist in the game, it makes Simi seemingly subservient to his mojo. The important question we should be asking now is when is Simi going to give us the much deserved LP?
No matter, congratulations to the crooning couple wedded in acoustic matrimony.