On October 27, 2017, Falz clocked 27 and he celebrated his new age by dropping an album called 27. Dropping a surprise album will always be cool. Pity, Beyoncé already immortalised this practice by lending it her name for our times.
This time last year, the internet was awash with pictures of the lawyer turned rapper with usual suspect, Simisola, in some sort of embrace. They had released promo pictures for their duo EP album Chemistry which portrayed them as lovers in an unusual pre-wedding photo shoot.
That album was excitingly refreshing. It has its own uses but back to 27. At 17 songs (2 Bonus tracks included) lasting two minutes shy of an hour, Falz put himself out on his B-Day. With Sess the Problem Kid producing 65 percent of the new album and single cameo productions credits from Demsa, Studio Magic, Spax, Juls and Malik Berry, the 27 album could as well be numerically apt with 27 songs.
Perhaps this will be stretching Falz’s idea of a ‘fleshing out’. No matter, 17 songs will do. 27 has the self-assuredness of a third album. Beginning with Polished, Falz adds the British accent to his arsenal of humour. His verses are the exact opposite of self-effacing. He brags about his sophistication with a promise. This song is not Kabiyesi, but it is not so many miles behind it.
La Fête continues Falz’s linguistic exploitations with his forceful attempt at French. At this point, it is clear Falz is having the time of his life on this album but his music isn’t. His music seems to have hit a plateau since Stories That Touch, coasting smoothly at a lazy pace.
Perhaps a better analogy will be to say Falz has found the perfect cocktail mix. Add Humour to real life events. Check for political correctness. Code-mix slowly. Switch if necessary. Check Sess. Wham! Music is ready. And we are yet to discuss the monotony of his rhymes.
There is a niggling itch that this album comes from a place of complacency, not compulsion. There are moments of elegance here, trust me. Every so often, Falz doles some decent couplets that quickly follow a few laugh out loud moments. Songs like Something Light (the amazing rap duet with Ycee), The Lamba Song and Get Me stand out. Surprisingly, disappointing moments are few. What abounds are moments of disapproval.
Burna Boy couldn’t save Alright. Cliché couldn’t save Child of the World. It is nice to see Sir Dauda (popular from Aramide’s Suitcase) assisting on two songs Boogie and Confirm but these songs move the zeitgeist sideways not forward. And, for the umpteenth time, Falz insists on his two-ness — his ability to flow in English and Yoruba, like it is some kind of lofty accomplishment.
No, sir. Proficiency in Yoruba and English has been with us since Bishop Ajayi Crowther.
Falz hardly calls himself the Bahd guy anymore but he has neither lost his lens-less eyeglasses nor humour. Full marks for timely arrival, 27 is a long time coming since Stories That Touch (released 2015) but STT is a tough act to beat. That album belongs in the realm of classic sophomores. With the daring and dumbfounding energy of a panther, this LP leapt on us and blessed us with memories of songs like Karashika (part 1 and 2), Chardonnay Music and the elegant zeitgeist-defining Soft Work.
Every creative has got a story and Falz can’t deny his middle-class upbringing. There are no struggle stories to embrace. Instead, there are stories about dualities. English and Yoruba. Lawyer and Rapper. Player and Lover. Good Kid and Street Smart. But three albums later, these stories hardly touch.