It’s All About Endurance, I Hope You Last Longer / If It Doesn’t Kill You, I Hope It Makes You Stronger / The Ones Around Me, Can Tell The Hunger / So I Think About How I Will Conquer – Skales [ I Forget ]
Album:- Man Of The Year
Record Label:- Baseline Records
Distributed By:- I-Tunes Online
Guest Appearances:- Burna Boy , Ice Prince, Phyno, Davido, Reekado Banks, Victoria Kimani, Kenny Wonder, Capital Femi, Rotimi, Numerica, Olamide, and Attitude
Producers:- Jay Pizzle, Orbeat, Spellz, DJ Coublon, Uhuru, ECHO, Bobby Combs, Ganja Beatz, Drey Beatz, TK On D Beat.
Release Date:- May 18th 2015
If there is any such thing in the music business as the “Nigerian Dream” Skales personifies that.His foray into the music industry, his 5 year run with Empire Mates Entertainment and his eventual departure which led to him dropping the biggest hit of his career Shake Body makes for a great success story, though he had to deal with being “marginalized” under the aforementioned label and fell out with his label mates Wizkid and Banky W, he still got his act together, didn’t let that weigh him down dropped hit song after hit song, became the most featured Artiste in Nigerian Urban music and eventually released his long awaited debut Album Man Of The Year less than a year after signing a very lucrative record deal with Base Line Records which is incidentally co-owned by veteran music CEO Howie T who was responsible for discovering P Square.
But let me take it back a little for those who do not know the beginning of his story, born Raoul John Njeng-Njeng in 1991 to a single mother in Kaduna, he discovered his penchant for poetry, rapping and singing which eventually led to him exploring his talents with some of his friends who were also interested in the same things as he was.In 2008, he travelled to Jos, Plateau State which was/is a well known hotbed of Hip-hop and music in general to meet budding producers Jeremiah Gyang and the Abaga brothers, who were then already local superstars in their own right.Jeremiah Gyang who sometimes used to record under the monicker “Callen” was featured on and produced a song called Kauna Allah, a local regional hit record by a certain rapper known as SGT Plus which was released in 2006, thus he had producer rights to remix the son . He put M.I Abaga on one remix, and put Skales on the other, but it was the one with Skales that caught on and became the official remix for the song which eventually crossed into the Lagos airwaves, and had everybody’s tongues wagging,asking who the young Rapper was.He then entered into the Zain Tru search music competition for upcoming Artistes in 2008 where his talent was visible to the judges so much so that they crowned him the winner out of the numerous contestants from North central Nigeria who partook in the competition.Though he did not win the National grand finale of Zain Tru search, he had garnered enough momentum, experience and confidence to release his first official single Must Shine a song on which he famously retorted “I’m heading for the Grammys'”.This Jesse Jagz produced song cemented his status as one of the hottest upcoming Artistes to watch in 2009 and eventually got him signed to Empire Mates Entertainment, which had just signed Wizkid who was equally hot at the time.
Skales Freestyling On The National Television Aged 18 Courtesy Of Zain Tru Search Competition
Only Banky Wellington and Segun Demuren will be able to explain to us why “They thought” Skales was not viable enough to release a debut Album under their umbrella for 5 years, but it simply did not happen instead, he had to play second fiddle to Wizkid and Banky W, sit back and watch his career remain invariably stagnant but not without learning the ropes, refining his sound, getting the required exposure and transforming himself from a Rapper to more or less a pop artiste/singer perhaps in a bid to model himself after the main Superstar ( no pun intended ) on the Label.In 2012 the Empire Mates State Of Mind compilation was released,this gave Skales his first taste of proper stardom and produced the hit track Komole which I thought was a good springboard for him to jump-start his solo endeavor, but that did not happen instead he spent two more years wallowing and making numerous guest appearances to keep his name afloat, little wonder he refused to renew his contract when it expired last year and instead floated his own independent label OHK Records and then locked himself in the studio with his in-house producer Drey Beatz,The result Shake Body which was released in May 2014 which changed his life forever , gave him a new lease of life and eventually created the right atmosphere for his debut Album Man Of The Year to be released.
Skales – Shake Body [2014 ] Official Video
The 21-track album which was unsurprisingly missing any form of contribution from any of his former label mates or producers affiliated with EME opens up with an intro taken by D’banjs brother Inlaw Dotun of Cool FM who opened the Album sounding like Pastor Chris Okotie making an Altar call, The Burna Boy ( who flipped a different style from what he is usually known for on this ) featured I’m a Winner is the first musical presentation, a celebratory record laced with snappy drums and a menacing bassline that had Skales spitting “I don popular pass Jaja of Opobo / Dem go regret cos dem wan do me ojoro / Back then, dem call me olodo / Now na only me dey reign all arond Igboro”, going in at his detractors, naysayers and non believers with a quite appropriate opening song.South African producers Uhuru who have been getting quite some love in Nigeria with the features and production credits lend him their well coveted monotonous sound on the next song Lo Le an uptempo song which was tailor-made for the clubs and had Skales displaying his versatility which he has shown time and again to create a song that will go down well with Disc Jockeys across the continent.The Davido assisted Always which is already a fan favourite comes next, and is exactly what it was intended to be, a hit song for lovers that Skales will perform at weddings for time to come;the Album makes a smooth transition to the next song Wonder which was inspired by Femi Kuti, produced by Jay Pizzle and featured Mavin Records act Reekado Banks, its another song that celebrates his rise from nothing to something , melodious and catchy but is most likely the first song you may skip on the Album.If you live in Lagos for 5 years and do not learn Yoruba, something is not exactly right with you,Skales has always toyed with the language to good results so it is no surprise that the next song Ijo Ayo which features YBNL head honcho Olamide is the climax of his experimentation with the language,the song which has a contemporary Fuji vibe was well executed and is definitely one of the standout songs on the project.
Skales – Ijo Ayo Featuring Olamide [ 2015 ] Official Video
The Album continues to Ko Ye Won, this one is a straight club song another one Deejays will have a field day with.“I wonder what’s up with you, baby I wonder whats’s up with you eh” he croons on the next song What’s Up, this one which has a Makossa feel will appeal to people who like Igbo Music and I think maybe Flavour, Kcee or Iyanya should be featured on a remix.Previously released single I’m For Real which samples the new resurgent Galala sound, Skales once again has him showing his versatility, riding the beat effortlessly adding another hit song to his fast expanding list of chart toppers.Still showcasing his versatility he recruits Chocolate Citys Kenyan bombshell Victoria Kimani for the next song OMG, a steamy Dancehall banger you wouldn’t want to play around little children nevertheless it would make for a good after hours song grown folks can get freaky to.Skales once again caters to the Rap heads on the next track Swagger Man which features Ice Prince and Phyno, though all three of them rapped the best they could ( Skales had the fiercest verse ) its one of the forgettable songs on the Album, Phyno sounded like he recorded his verse in outer space, and the collaboration sounded like an obligatory one as opposed to a natural synergy;The inspirational/motivational No Condition delivers a message of hope to everybody at the bottom of the barrel of life, and if there is any Artiste that can preach this message, it is definitely Skales.Fa Ra We Mi the next song samples Push The Feeling On [ 1992 ] which was originally performed by Scottish house music band The Nightcrawlers and has Skales going back to his rap roots , spitting Wish I knew then what I know now / I guarantee Y’all would bow up / In this game curiosity kills the Cat but I’m steady Tryna milk this cow / It’s hard to keep this haters mute / That’s why every day I shoot.. furiously over the impressive snap instrumental castigating his haters and assisted by Kenny Wonder who gave a good account of himself helping Skales to create a song Rap heads will gobble up.Happy is an extremely cheesy song and a poor attempt at making a pop hit, it sounds like a song he would have sold to an upcoming act and Your Body Hot ironically sounds like it should have been called “Happy” another highly forgettable pop song which comes next and though featured Artiste Attitude who put in a nice shift,the Kenny Wonder produced song did not sound organic.The “Ajegunle sound” makes another appearance on the next song Naughty a song I feel Daddy Fresh will be proud of,but at this point the Album begins to sound a bit redundant and repetitive, but the second single which was released to promote the project Je Kan Mo comes on and adds some gusto and excitement to the listening experience, a certified hit song which was produced by Jay Pizzle and is another song that will add to the market value of the Album.
Skales – Je Kan Mo [ 2015 ] Official Video
An ode to marathon inebriation Another Round is track 18 ,it was equipped with a nice hook and an infectious beat, but the lyrics are stereotypical party chants which have come to define his career over the last 3 years.Turn You On Which features Capital Femi and Rotimi ( Who just got signed by 50 Cent to G-Unit ) is something for the grown and sexy folks, a well executed R&B ballad which sort of salvages the sound towards the end of the Album, I cannot help but think Banky W was supposed to be on the song.
The Album ends with I Forget which is a song of hope and forgiveness was created for his day one fans to show them he can still make a decent Rap song, it was laced with heartfelt bars and a melancholic hook which did great job of consolidating the message on the song.The song that single-handedly re-energized his career Shake Body is the bonus track on the Album, along with a remix,a French version which featured Cameroonian Pop Star Numerica who spiced it up appropriately for our Francophone brothers, and the French speaking world citizens who enjoy African music.
Skales – I’m For Real [ 2015 ] Official Video
Somewhere in this world there is an Artiste who is fed up with the game and wants to give up that will definitely be inspired by the come-back story of Skales and will be motivated to push on.With this Album he has finally earned his respect from his fans, music observers and his peers, he has dispelled any notion that he cannot be an A-List act and will definitely be costing some label heads at EME a query or maybe job loss however this Album could have been much better than it turned out to be, Skales had enough singles to push this project and should have in my opinion taken time to craft a more worthy debut Album.The Album sounds more like a “Skales Greatest Hits” or “Best Of Skales” compilation, and the A&R direction was a bit lazy.The Cover was a bit dull, the title was lazy and the listening process gets tedious towards the end.The Album also suffered in the lyrics department ( understandably from an “Afro-Pop” Album” ), had it been a bit shorter it would have had a more viable replay value.Skales has always had an knack for picking great beats, so the high production quality didn’t surprise me at all neither did the absence of EME and their affiliates, as well as his new label-mates Saeon, Mr Chidoo and Co.Skales has proven with this Album that not only is he a seasoned songwriter and recording Artiste, he is a legitimate moneymaker who can be the flagship act on any Label and created a remarkable underdog comeback story that will be referenced for time to come in the Nigerian Entertainment landscape.
Best Verse:- Fa Ra We Mi Verse 2
Standout Track:- Ijo Ayo For The Clubs, Fa Ra We For Rap Heads
Musical Moment:- The Nightcrawlers Sample On Fa Ra We Mi Impressed me
Album Rating:- 7.3/10