Essentials: Mr Money With The Vibe is a Coronation Rather than an Instant Classic.
While Mr Money might be a loosely-curated composite of his current appeal, a coronation rather than an instant classic, Asake's talent level suggests he could blossom into something much more protean.
In another world, a fictional world maybe, you can picture Asake lying on a reclining bed, countless tubes and machines attached to his unconscious body in a murky, clandestine facility. You can visualize Olamide, his label boss, right next to him, rigged out in a light blue hazmat suit, injecting his “test subject” with a nocuous serum that hangs his life in the balance — he either wakes with superhuman abilities or he passes on. You can see one of Olamide’s nurses staring anxiously at an electrocardiograph, waiting for that flat line to spike, to see proof of life. After a short tense wait, you can hear Asake take a loud gasp, bursting to life.
About three weeks into the year, Asake released “Omo Ope”, the first single that would kickstart his almost unprecedented onslaught on the charts and introduce him to the mainstream Nigerian audience. What would follow after the release of the sonorous single is a dazzling run that can match almost any creative streak in Nigerian history; a run that transformed him from an emerging act who loitered around the fringes of the limelight to the sun at the center of Afropop’s solar system.
This incredible run — especially in the manner that it has unfurled — is why many jokingly suggest that the 27-year-old was created in a lab somewhere. If we lived in the Marvel universe, it would have been a plausible claim, but listening to Asake before he became a household name and there were hints — admittedly subtle — that he could be headed for the very top, doing exactly what he’s presently doing. On 2018’s “Ayeeza” he chants and moans gibberish and introduces half-dozen, incomprehensible slangs over a riotous, dance-ready beat that’s not a far cry from the more glossy and intricate slew of beats that his talented sidekick producer MagicSticks currently cooks up for him. Go back further and there was the OG “Joha” (which got a facelift for his album), which gained local renown during his time in Obafemi Awolowo University, not least because of its canorous, peppy appeal but also because of the dizzying dance move that accompanied it.
While singles like “Ayeeza”, the original “Joha”, and even the Dj Xclusive-assisted “Gegeti” served as clouds gently forming, suggesting that there was a heavy downpour coming, 2021’s “Mr Money” was perhaps the best indicator that this wasn’t going to be just any downpour — a huge storm was coming.
After nine months of his raging tempest, scoring hits with his unique harmonization of genres which had him sounding like the musical lovechild of Fuji legend Wasiu Alabi Pasuma and Afrohouse stalwart Niniola while also quickly garnering cultural cachet — much like Naira Marley, another innovative Street-Hop singer who took the country by storm a couple of years back — it’s all culminated into one of the most anticipated debut full-lengths in Afropop modern history, Mr Money With The Vibe.
With Mr Money With The Vibe, Asake isn’t trying to make any grand statements or avant-garde assays, he seems to have no proclivity for that, at least not at the moment. The rabbit remains firmly in the hat here. What he, however, does is simply an extension of what he’s been doing all year long: concocting stadium-size hits mostly built upon MagicSticks’ infectious log drums an