TESLIM doubles as a symbolic tribute to his late father’s memory and a memoir of Vector’s own life, all rolled into one collection of diverse melodies, including rap, poetry, and symphony.
The momentum began in 2019 with the release of Vibes Before T.E.S.L.I.M., an extended play that Vector used as a springboard for his fourth album, ”TESLIM.” The Lafiaji rapper has had a career spanning more than a decade, during which time he has seen the bittersweet side of fame, including losing his father and having disagreements with his former record label, among other things.
Vector has persevered despite all of these difficulties by continuing to deliver only excellent songs and achieving greatness as one of the nation’s top rappers over the past ten years. Even as a newbie back in the day, he has never been a small fry, and his debut album, “State Of Surprise“ is unambiguous evidence of that.
The abbreviation “TESLIM,” which stands for ‘The Energy Still Lives In Me,’ was cleverly created by Vector as a way to illustrate how his late father’s characteristics and spirit continues to live on through him.
The concept for the album’s first track, “Teslim Introduction” was brilliant; it perfectly supported the pattern of the entire album, which begins with a radio-style interview in which the artist is introduced and then decides how much of his soul to share. The opening is reminiscent of The Weeknd’s “Dawn FM,” in which Jim Carrey plays the radio announcer. Similarly, Bibi Ray, a Nigerian radio personality, conducted the interview with Vector. He opened the album with a critique of fatherhood and some of its drawbacks, rapping, “I realize that baby mama drama is the worst part of being a father,” and then he went ahead and diverged his claims on the introductory song, with Bibi’s voice interjecting his verse at some point to chime in with another question as a means for Vector to further diverge into other topics, like society, life, and his ways of handling the attention from ladies, given that he is widely regarded as a sex symbol.
He writes to his child, worded in the most sophisticated yet approachable way imaginable, he communicates his emotions in the song “I Need You,” which continues the mood with an even more gloomier air. He expresses his feelings which heightens the emotion even more, worded in the most sophisticated yet approachable way imaginable, he sends a letter to his child.
The song features cheery vocals from Vector’s daughter Milare and has a catchy chorus heralded by the talented Ichaba. He deviates slightly from the melancholy of the previous song and enters a more celebratory and self-reflective atmosphere with “You Don’t Know” alongside Erigga who made sure to bring a more satirical side of truth to the song.
He wears his conscious boots on “Insomnia,” where he takes us through the chaos of the everyday Nigeria, which has come to appear so normal to a nation like ours despite the fact that it should naturally stir sleeplessness in the inhabitants of the nation. The chorus, sung solemnly by Cracker Mallo, is a simple yet deep one that seems clouded with agony as Vector continues to discuss his delusion about organized religion, internal conflicts, and the meaning of life while making references to events like the collapse of the Synagogue’s Church and the EndSARS event.
While honoring God’s presence and proclaiming his position as not being a religious type, he beautifully illustrates in “Mercy” the highlights of the events that have taken place in his life and ultimately helped to build him into the man he has become. He accomplishes this by intervallic switching between vocals and pop rap flows with a sprinkle of the native “White garment church music” of Nigeria, which is symbolic of his background. With fervent Afrobeats newcomer Seyi Vibes, Vector crafts an exquisite song with a chorus that is replete with a prayer to God for favor.
On “Shoki Sombolo,” one of the album’s standout songs, he continues along the same route, expressing himself as a victor who has triumphed over swindlers and phony pals who, in his words, have sought to “end me.” He uses each of these tales to highlight his achievements. Towards the end of the track, there are cheery background vocals from children, which skyrocket the good vibes of the record.
It definitely wouldn’t be a Vector album without hard hitting rap songs that carry immaculate bars. Vector has always been the type to show out when it comes to collaborations with fellow rappers and he made sure to bring that exact energy on “Clowns” with Ladipoe which focuses on the inept yet cleverly corrupt politicians we have in places of power. With longtime buddy and collaborator A-O Machine, he maintained the same intensity on “Big Flexa,” but this time he brought the braggadocio and actual flex, which is something we all love to see from the V.E.C.
The lavish and showy rhyme didn’t stop there; in “What’s That II” with Nasty C, the top tier South African emcee, Vector was not to be surpassed. They traded heavy bars and shared the chorus at intervals. The super-catchy song is dedicated to beautiful women and adorned with a head bumping instrumentation, silky adlibs, and impeccable Pop rap flows.
The latter quarter of Teslim shows us a more romantic and perhaps petty side of Vector; on the song “Mama Maradona,” for example, he introduced the chorus in the sexiest way imaginable before introducing a hint of cockiness in the lyrics. With a faultless rap-sung verse, the legendary Wande Coal was also at his best on this track, however, he would have improved the already excellent chorus.
‘Fefe‘ (Ferarri), featuring Shado Chris, is the second international collaboration by Vector on the album TESLIM. The melody and gripping chorus on this song, together with an extremely smooth rap delivery from him and the Ivorian producer, totally silenced the language barrier.
The romantic side of him now comes out in full force as he teams up with Seun Kuti for “Mami Wata,” a song that combines conventional Afrobeat with pidgin rap in which he compares the beauty of his love interest to that of a mermaid, or “Mami Wata” in Nigerian pidgin. This song’s pure musicianship elevates it and demonstrates the various, distinctive ways that Afrobeat may infiltrate other genres of music.
“Early Momo” follows through, a rousing tune filled with immense passion and romance, is the epitome of a perfect collaboration. It showcases the rapper’s seamless chemistry with Good Girl LA, and despite the song being more than a year old, it was a great idea for Vector to put such a passionate love track like this on TESLIM.
Even though a captivating Amapiano version of the song, “My Name,” was released earlier this year, Vector chose to end the album with a laid-back choral rendition. The choir’s contribution is a beautiful touch, especially considering the song’s and the album’s spiritual undertones. It seems that he interpolates God’s biblical love that existed before we did, as expressed the bible “You know my name before I was made.”
Every aspect of this album TESLIM appeared to have been very consciously chosen and deliberated by Vector. He made sure to provide a more detailed account of his life as a regular person who might experience hurt, loss, and vulnerability; the record functioned as a lens for the audience to have a better look at it all. He manages to accomplish all of this while being intentional about paying tribute to his father’s memories and creating a well-curated piece for his offspring to explore as they come of age.