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Essentials: KDDO's Too Late Too Lit

KDDO's debut as a full-fledged artist is a colourful splash of sleek production and striking melodies that highlight his versatility as a producer and artiste.

Record producers making the switch from simply being behind the boards to becoming accomplished recording artists is not a rarity. Prolific beatsmiths like Maleek Berry, Don Jazzy, Jesse Jagz, Odunsi The Engine and many more have transitioned from simply cooking up beats to stepping behind the mic. However, very few have transitioned as seamlessly as Ayoola Agboola – the man popularly known as Kiddominant.

The 28-year-old Lagos-native has been around for the last decade; feeding hits to stars like Orezi, Mayorkun, Cynthia Morgan, Dj Neptune and most notably Davido. He, however, made his singing debut in 2018, going back and forth – and strongly holding his own – with arguably the biggest pop star in the continent, Wizkid, on the laid-back “Alright”. He seemed like a natural as he conjured catchy melodies over his slow-paced drums and sleek guitar riffs. While “Alright”, was a (for lack of a better word) vibe – almost like an experiment to test the waters – his next outing was a massive statement. AKA’s “Fela In Versace'' came shortly after the release of “Alright” and Kiddominant was undoubtedly the star of the show. While his slow, vieux jeu hip-hop beat loop wrapped in bright synths is noteworthy, it’s his impeccable hook that’s the cynosure, elevating the record to be worthy of a 4x Platinum Certification in South Africa. Not many can pull off this feat with just their second try. He went on to land production credits on songs like Russ’ “All I Want”, Chris Brown’s “Lower Body” and Becky G’s “Next To You (Part II). He also made a memorable appearance on Bas’s “Amnesia”, alongside Ari Lennox.

“eWallet”, his sophomore single, arrived in May of last year. Here, he floats over high-pitched piano melodies and kwaito basslines with South African rap heavyweight, Cassper Nyovest which highlights his versatility both as an artist and a producer. However, his versatility is a double-edged sword as it is on full display on his self-produced debut project, Too Late Too Lit, which he releases under a new moniker, KDDO.

On “Loco”, the project opener, he conjures similar amapiano-inspired instrumentation like he did on “eWallet”. However, this time, the basslines are more aggressive and his melodies are more potent. The track finds him singing about a love interest with in-form Afropop singer, Mayorkun, who brings his catchy ad-libs, funny one-liners and one of his better vocal performances. The infectious record closes out with beautiful horns, which gives the song added piquancy. This highlights the intricacy of the production and KDDO’s incredible attention to sonic detail. On “Beamer Body”, he ropes longtime collaborator Davido to deliver an Afropop banger.

While Too Late Too Lit features an array of high-wattage guests, it’s the more obscure Ferow who delivers arguably the best performance on “Show Me Love. KDDO creates just the right ambience for the Dallas-born, Atlanta-based singer’s ethereal voice with his buoyant percussion, insistent shakers and floating piano keys. He also complements her vocally, using his more synthesized voice to good effect. The bpm slows down on the moody “Flex Education”. The beat here is awash with lush keys, guitar licks and elegant horns. While his performance here is could be quite reminiscent of his performance on “Fela In Versace” , on this track, though, he delivers meagre lyrics as he tries to impress his love with his lavish lifestyle.

The beat picks up again on the Gqom-influenced “20 Something”. He secures the services of South African singer and rapper, Sho Madjozi who delivers a lively and snappy performance over KDDO’S piercing guitar loop and infectious drums. On “Party”, he assembles Bas and Jidenna to feast over an innocuous boom-bap beat. The project closes with KDDO going back and forth with the dynamic neo-highlife band, The Cavemen on “Holy Ghost Fire.”

Should you be searching for them, there are flaws on Too Late Too Lit. For the most part, KDDO’s beats speak the loudest; his lyrics, on the other hand, are painfully lacking. They almost just feel up space for his zippy beats. You could also complain that the project lacks proper cohesion. Even though KDDO’s range is impressive – his eclectic soundbed ranges from Afrohouse, Hip-hop, Highlife, Afrobeats down to dim-lit R&B – the project lacks a solid sonic coherence. Nevertheless, these hiccups could be overlooked as the highs on Too Late Too Lit vastly outweigh the lows. KDDO’s brilliantly worked beats are tight and topnotch as they have always been. They also serve as the rock-solid backdrop for both his autotuned croons and that of his carefully selected guests.

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