The 27-year-old returns with the second instalment of the OTR series, a solid project that perfectly highlights the best of Banks' artistry.
When Wizkid called Reekado Banks a fool and a “clout animal” on Twitter, I couldn’t believe it. Yes, Reekado was tacky using the #EndSars protests as a platform to promote his song - although it didn’t diminish his support for the struggle, it’s important to read the room sometimes - but even though, even though. Clout animal? In my opinion, it was a cheap shot that was meant to endear the public to Wizkid, who famously postponed the release of Made In Lagos for the protests. Nevermind the fact that he had been postponing it for hundred years when there was no protest. Nobody really cares about my opinions, what happened at the end of the day was more important: Wizkid up, Reekado down.
The Wizkid thing was worse because it happened not long after Burna Boy dissed Reekado Banks by inferring he wasn’t a worthy enough opponent to challenge him. Being put down by 2 of the Big 3 meant that Reekado needed a strong comeback, a statement, if you will, to show that he still had the qualities that made him stand out to Don Jazzy and co at Mavins all those years back. When he announced his EP Off The Record to be released November 2020, anticipation peaked, with fans eagerly expecting a strong response to the beatdowns he had taken. Unfortunately, he failed at this. Off The Record failed to stamp any authority, and while certain songs off the project showed some promise, it was a weak project in a year that showed the strength of EPs as an art medium.
But the bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that “old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new.” The past is the past. Each day is a chance to set right the wrongs of yesterday, and when you have as many wrongs as Reekado Banks, you grab that chance with both hands. When “Ozumba Mbadiwe” was released over a month ago, it took fans and music lovers - including myself, by surprise. A delightful song that touched on a variety of topics including love, the Lekki Massacre and what many consider to be a sneak diss at Burna Boy. All’s fair in love and war as far as I’m concerned, so, go at him Reeky, we dey your back. Off the acclaim and hype, he announced an EP, the follow up to Off The Record: OTR Vol. 2: Where Did We Stop?
Now, at first glance, this seems like a threat. What do you mean by where did we stop? The last EP wasn’t good my man, are you sure you want to continue from there? But, although the past is a guide, it really has no bearing on the future. People change, sometimes for the worst, and sometimes, like Reekado Banks, for the best. On his new project, he proves that “Ozumba Mbadiwe” was not a fluke, but rather part of a new Reekado Banks; one with charisma and a proper understanding of his sound. At a total runtime of 16 min, 4 seconds, the songs are not too long and don’t stretch into boring territory.
On the project’s opener “Pulling Up”, he makes a strong statement of his intentions to his lover and his fans. To his lover, he’s ready to show her the world, give her his heart and fly her to Lagos. With a mellow beat courtesy of Jesse-Sokari George, the song is an excellent R&B cut that showcases the range of Reekado’s abilities. He follows this up with P-Prime hit track “Ozumba Mbadiwe”, whose qualities we have already extolled above. On “Lupita Nyongo”, he taps into his Amapiano bag which he executes flawlessly. Comparing his love interest’s beauty to that of the star actress and wonders how she fits her ass into jeans (we’d like to know too). Produced by the trio of P-Prime, Marv and Biggie Jazzy, the track proves that three heads are better than one. On “Selection”, he discards the upbeat nature of the previous two songs and goes back to his softer side. Over smooth instrumentals, he provides reassurance to his lover, telling her that she’s the one he loves, despite the numerous “rivals” she has flocking around him. Although it is a solid offering on its own, you get the feeling that it might have been better with a feature. On the other hand, this is a project to showcase Reekado on his own, so features were probably not needed. The EP closes with “Self Esteem”, an uplifting track dedicated to a lover who needs to believe in her worth and let go of the shackles her exes have bound her in with emotional and verbal abuse. A poignant reminder of the intrinsic value we all have outside the actions and opinions of others, it also feels like a glimpse into the artist’s mind in view of the topsy-turvy route his career has taken up until this point.
A perfect blend of solid production, excellent songwriting, and beautiful vocal performances, OTR Vol 2 is a triumph for Reekado Banks, an artist who has seemed restricted all through his musical journey. Whether this was self-inflicted or due to external forces is irrelevant. What matters in the here and now is that Reekado Banks has arrived, again, and hopefully he’s here to stay.