Album:- Unfettered [ Extended Play ]
Record Label:- Potters Wheel Music
Distributed By:- Soundcloud
Guest Appearances:- Shorty, Funny G & David King
Producers:- Phantom, Chuck Bars, Benxy and The Artiste Himself
Release Date:- January 15th 2016
Alternative soul singer/rapper Bezalel came to national semi-consciousness when he was featured on Real Man by his fellow “J-Towner” M.I Abaga off the Violence Against Women album which was heralded by DLI Tuesday Nigeria LTD and featured 4 heavy hitters in the persons of Waje, M.I Abaga, Eldee Tha Don and Omawumi. Real Man so happened to be the most prominent song on the 4-track compilation and though Bezalel was not credited for his work on the official tracklist, his performance on the song was clearly noticeable and struck up a investigation by some fans ( me included ) as to whom the unnamed featured act really was and almost 1 month after the VAW project was released Bezalel decided to capitalize on the buzz to release a 10-track EP titled Unfettered.
The EP which was inspired by a myriad of musical influences including Jazz, Hip-hop, Soul, Reggae and Afro-pop starts off with an Intro that was created with excerpts of different motivational speeches, which ultimately sounded like Half-time talk by an NFL team coach and led on to the Phantom-produced single Omalicha an uptempo blend of Reggae and Afro-pop on which he sang in Yoruba and English interchangeably and performed the chorus in Igbo language, I was enjoying the song until he performed a rap verse, which I felt didn’t fit the song and reduced it’s artistic value. The EP continues to a comic skit, performed by comedian Funny G whose plot revolved around haters talking about Bezalel disparagingly until he shows up and they switch up to applauding him in his presence, It’s a nice little interlude, but lacks originality as the same concept has been used by Kokorkmikor and Eldee Tha Don. The next song Scared Niggaz is a slow-tempo Piano-driven rap song with a pulsating backdrop and features J-Town rapper Shorty . His delivery on the song was singsongy and complimented the overall somber vibe of the track, which in turn solidified and made the collaboration as a stellar one. He switches his sound to a more uptempo dancehall vibe on It’s Alright , a well performed song which was let down by it’s irregular structure which didn’t work well for me at all. “If you think you are better than me, you must be high on what you’re smoking” he declares on the hook of the next track That Killa, another song which I feel would have been better off without the intermittent rap verses. Next is a skit which is an excerpt of a radio news broadcast about the breakout of religious violence in his hometown Plateau state followed by a mellow heartfelt conscious song Conspiracy which had a roots reggae vibe to it and also happens to be the strongest song on the EP. His performance on the song was wrought with raw emotions of pain and you could hear it in his voice as he sang “Conspiracy, conspiracy against my hometown, I see no security, security to protect my playground“,it’s an emotive song that will certainly resonate with the people of Plateau State and anybody who is familiar with or has ever witnessed an outbreak of religious violence. Know Me Huh is the last song on the EP, and his rapping once again didn’t work for me and at this point it is clear to me that I am solely a fan of the Singer part of Bezalel.
J-Town has produced some of the best artistes in Nigerian urban music across all genres, artistes like P-Square, Ice Prince, M.I Abaga and his brother Jesse Jagz, Ruby Gyang, Endia, Yung L, and even the great 2baba Idibia was born in Jos. Bezalel intends to add his name to that list and while I can tell he is a very talented artiste, The Unfettered EP doesn’t cut it for me and does not make a strong case for him as an artiste. His performances as a vocalist overshadows his rapping efforts, and the combination of the two further diminished the appreciation value of his vocals and the end product of the EP. Simply put, I strongly feel his talent and music will come across in a more powerful way if he focuses solely on his singing . Going by his performance on Real Man, I was expecting a soul, jazz and r&b musical experience, but I didn’t get that and the surprise wasn’t all that pleasant, The upside of the Unfettered EP is that it offers a window into his musical scope and shows that he can also thrive as a songwriter/ghostwriter , maybe for some rappers who need inspiration on the hip-hop tip, but I strongly proffer that Bezalel will do much better if he focuses on his singing capabilities and relegate his rapping. That way he can harness his music optimally, be the best singer he can be and eventually join the pantheon of great artistes who have done The Home Of Peace And Tourism proud.
Best Verse:- Shorty on Scared Niggaz
Standout Track:- Conspiracy
Overall Rating:- 5.7/10