With a blend of refined, compelling and ear-appealing sounds, The revered Alté pioneer proves to the world why he’s ‘That Guy’.
The highly talented Boj (real name, Bolaji Odojukan), is an English-Nigerian singer, songwriter, and record producer. With TeeZee and Fresh L, he is one-third of the musical ensemble DRB Lasgidi, and is regarded as a pioneer of the Altè music genre. Boj examines the various sounds and subgenres that could emanate from Lagos with his third studio album ‘Gbagada Express‘. The album title is a reference to his childhood neighborhood of Gbagada, a suburb in Lagos Nigeria, which is basically the inspiration behind the project.
Recorded during the most restricted periods of 2020’s lockdown, Boj’s Gbagada Express is a superb blend of several genres, ranging from Afropop, RnB, Dancehall, and Trap, all of which are fused into Boj‘s signature Altè cubicle. The body of work is on that recounts stories about the singer and his adventures as a Lagos resident at various times.
When it comes to a list of the best albums released in 2022, this one is surely worth noting. Also, enlisting Afrobeats superstars Wizkid and Davido on two of the album’s tracks was a brilliant choice that added to the album’s already fascinating outline.
Although all the songs contained on Gbagada Express are individually genius pieces of arts, this article will however highlight an unspecified number of tunes from the 16-track album considered to be top tier. These carefully chosen tracks, in the writer’s opinion, adequately illustrate the diversity and depth of genre, sound, and style demonstrated by Boj in the development of this masterpiece.
“Owo ni Koko,” – A Fireboy DML-assisted track, kicks things off the album. Both artists explore the idea of money being the “primary thing,” which is a well-known truth. ‘Owo Ni Koko‘ is a phrase that translates as ‘money is the real deal.’ The track sees Boj vocalizing about how he’s been working hard for a while just to attain luxury, it simply admonishes people to do less talking and allow their money do all the talking there is.
“Lekki Love“(Featuring BNXN & Fresh L) – This is a really addictive track that epitomizes mature and sultry tones. Boj made a smart decision by putting the hook in the hands of the extremely gifted BNXN. Fresh L delivered an enthralling verse, combining his rap bars with both BNXN and Boj‘s catchy vibrations.
“Awolowo“(Featuring Wizkid & Darkovibes) – The mid-tempo Afrofuion tune, which was originally recorded in 2019 with Kwesi Arthur, Joey B, and Darkobvibes, had a terrific run, and later spawned a rap version with Ycee and Falz. The album’s version with Wizkid is the song’s third iteration, that further gave the already three-year-old record a fresh lease on life. The song is an all-around feel-good jam with fantastic melodies, spiced up with an outstanding new verse from Wizkid.
”Get Out The Way” (Featuring Koffi Jamar & Joey B) – With this drill joint, Boj further demonstrates his impressive range musically. On the record the singer encourages detractors to get out of the way because he plans to spend money however he sees fit. Siting as the sixth track on the album, Get Out The Way is definitely a body shaker, infused with drill and trap elements. With this jumpy rendition, Boj seemingly vies to tap into the UK drill scene. Kofi Jamar and Joey B also were on point, perfectly complimenting the record with impressive deliveries.
“In A Loop” (Featuring Molly & Melissa) – This track can be easily described as a effortlessly perfect Altè track. The combination of Molly and Melissa‘s distinctive sounds skyrocketed the track from 0 to 100. The synchronization of all three artistes is unrivaled. The song themes around a sweet yet rocky romantic relationship between the track’s characters.
“Culture” (Featuring Enny) – Just like ‘In A Loop,’ This song pushes deeper into sound exploration. ‘Culture’ is, in my view, one of the album’s most unique tracks. Produced by genius British/Ghanaian music producer Juls, “Cuture” incorporates parts of Afrobeats, Hiphop, and Highlife, which is what Juls is best known for: sound experimentation. On the tune, Enny, a Nigerian-born British rapper, provided flawless poetry. With a fantastic and stellar verse from Enny braggadociously describing what her African cultures entails, the song themes around hustling, city life, tradition and the Lagos nightlife.
”Unconsciously” (Featuring Victony) – The Boj and Victony dynamic is pretty much a fascinating and more or less a tear-jerking one. This has to deal with the circumstances behind them meeting and getting along, all the way up to Victony‘s near-fatal vehicle accident in 2020. This song, according to Boj, reduces him to tears. The song ‘Unconsciously‘ is rather special, since it is about love and feelings. Victony‘s soothing vocals adorns the chorus, with both artists singing about inadvertently falling in love with a female.
“Money & Laughter( Featuring Amaarae and Zamir) – With their ear-pleasing verses, Altè artists Amaarae and Zamir almost coerced the song into being theirs. ‘Money and Laughter,‘ a slow-tempo melody, exudes a desire for luxury and freedom of choice. “What are you after, I tell her money and laughter,” Boj sings, explaining his desire to be wealthy and happy. The track’s title, Money and Laughter corresponds to the concept of the tune. On this feel good slow vibration, the trio discusses generating money and serenading their lovers with laughter.
“Abracadabra” (Featuring Davido & Mr Eazi) – ‘Abracadabra’ the album’s obvious highlight party-rocker, was one of the earliest released tunes that had fans interested, prior to the album’s release. The record which was created by Genio Bambio, features a soothing combination of Caribbean Rub-a-Dub-styled instrumentation. The song houses Banku music pioneer Mr Eazi, and Afrobeats superstar Davido. This groovy number “Abracadabra” is one that deviates from Boj‘s usual known style, which further clarifies the Altè dynamic concept of anything goes. On YouTube, the song’s video has garnered over a million views
“Gbagada Express” – Boj knew he definitely had to deliver a stellar performance on the album’s title track, and he achieved just that. For reasons unbeknownst, The singer included this song as the album’s 15th track, directly before “Your Love,” the album’s concluding track featuring Tiwa Savage. A proper Afrobeats tune, robust with all the elements of a hit record. Boj speaks up on a number of issues, ranging from racism to enjoying life. He states that no one is greater than him simply because of their skin colour. He invites his listeners to join him on the journey and have a good time. The beat, lyrics, and vocal delivery on this record is simply outstanding.
The album exudes a lot of funkiness, free will, and sexy aura. Boj‘s exploration with sound types continues, demonstrating why he is revered as the one true pioneer of the Alté culture. The album’s overall production is highly commendable, every single track boasts of a top-notch production touch to it, with great replay value. The artiste selection was impeccable, a fine mix of established superstars and the introduction of highly talented burgeoning artists, the album is one that fulfills every listening desire.
With the Alté style slowly becoming a more recognized subgenre, it’s only right that the lyrics aren’t too complicated, which I believe is the strategy Boj implored on “Gbagada Express,” meditating on topics that are highly relatable and relevant to the typical Nigerian and people all over the world.
In totality, Boj’s album “Gbagada Express” is a highly unique and well timed work of Art. The approached it as though he had something to prove, despite proving on numerous occasions, why he is revered as the one true Alté pioneer, championing the culture of a more modernized sector of Nigerian alternative music and Afrobeats.
Rating – 7.5/10