EletiofeREVIEW: Fiokee - MAN

REVIEW: Fiokee – MAN [ALBUM]

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Good Time,’ ‘Personal,’ ‘Number One,’ ‘Koni Koni’ and ‘Goodness and Mercy’ are such amazing record with high calibre replay value.

Ordinarily, instrumentalists, producers and hypeman can survive without being primarily involved with their own music. But times have changed, possibilities have widened and Nigerian culture is a problem. Thus, instrumentalists, hypemen and producers have to broaden their horizons. Thus, a lot of people are releasing bodies of work.

One of them is celebrated guitarist, Fiokee. On his 40th birthday – yes I’m shocked too, he released his debut album, Man – let’s forgive the cryptic title. Fiokee might be a proficient guitaris to rival many in the world, but releasing an album filled with guitar sessions might require him to create more alternative or classical records.

Those will have less commercial appeal and require a hell of a lot more work to even arrange. Instead, he’s gone for the field that’s given him the most success in recent years – Afro-pop. Across Africa, Fiokee has called on some celebrated singers: from superstars to viral sensations and emerging talent.

The best thing about the featured acts is a commendable level of dedication shown to Fiokee’s songs. Secondly, it’s a great credit to Fiokee and Osagie Osarenz, that they could call on this extensive roster of artistes across Africa. Thirdly, when you judge them individually, all the records on this album are simply brilliant.

While that makes the album attain sonic cohesion, it suffers from a little monotony in sound and myopia in style and approach. Fiokee’s attempt to stamp each record with prevalent guitar chords makes a lot of these records sound East African or Francophone African.

Even when Highlife records like ‘Koni Koni’ and ‘Kelewa’ or an Amapiano record like ‘Personal’ aim to break out of the mould, Fiokee’s guitar solo brought them back into that East African stretch. If you don’t know better, you might think this is a Harmonize, Rayvanny or an Anjella album.

It’s to Fiokee’s credit that he made such transnational music. It’s definitely credit to him and Osagie that all the records on ‘MAN’ are beautiful pop numbers. But as a body of work, more diversity is needed in style and approach. Midway through, some listeners might have gotten bored.

It feels like ‘MAN’ reflects the Fiokee’s preferred brand of music to digest or make. While he uses that mindset to create 14 great individual records, he fails to consider how his audience might digest those records as one body of work.

Considering the Highlife and Afro-swing records, and their saunter into East African Afro-pop by way of Fiokee’s guitar solos, one questions if Fiokee can play guitar on an African pop record without unintentionally lacing it with Makossa or East African flavor.

Nonetheless, this approach could also be a deliberate strategy. Fiokee is a guitarist. Chances are that his largest fan base on streaming platforms is from East Africa and Francophone Africa, where guitar-filled music is prevalent. If it’s not a deliberate strategy, this album might be better served with a huge East African and Francophone African push.

Whatever the case might be, ‘Good Time,’ ‘Personal,’ ‘Number One,’ ‘Koni Koni’ and ‘Goodness and Mercy’ are such amazing record with high calibre replay value.

Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.2/2

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