REVIEW: Blaqbonez – Sex Over Love [ALBUM]

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“I don rap, now I wan make money,” he repeated.

That was 2018 at the album listening party for LAMBAugust, the memorable three-album run by Chocolate City/100 Crowns. One of those albums was Blaqbonez’s debut album, Bad Boy Blaq.

That represented his maiden steps away from the world of Hip-Hop into a world of confident experimentation with records like ‘Mamiwota’ featuring Oxlade and the underrated ‘Play (Remix)’ featuring YCee.

He then experimented with his looks and aesthetics with an ‘alte’ outlook while he reinvented his Hip-Hop background on the excellent Mr. Boombastic EP.

These days, Blaqbonez is one of the most important figures, templates and blueprints in Nigerian music. He is the rapper who broke grounds in the pop/mainstream space by sheer force of will, invention, personality and by what Jay Z describes as, “Sheer force of wanting it.”

This reality is why a lot of rappers dislike him; he represents their dreams and their limitations. He doesn’t just rap anymore, he has learned how to make music. He’s not always perfect, neither has his music always worked. But he represents the efficacy that ambition can mean to success.

It’s no surprise that on his April 30, 2021 sophomore album, Sex Over Love, he seemed a dig at his battle rap days in the final seconds of his album opener ‘Novacane,’ while he introduces/sticks to the overarching sexual theme of the album.

In the final seconds of the song and with his characteristic comic demeanour evident in his voice, he rapped, “It’s disaster when I go to your alma mater and kill ‘em bastard/Indomie, cause they weak and they didn’t know me/I’m the big homie/I fucked your b*tch and her name was Philome-na…

Those lines were a representation of everything Blaqbonez has become; a quirky creator who infuses black comedy into his act. Those lines are incoherent gibberish, but knowing Blaqbonez, that was the whole point of that moment.

‘Sex Over Love’ is a confident articulation of sex in creative models, through a dense selection of beats that project genre diversity. All the while, the album never sounds scatterbrained, thanks to his impeccable album sequencing.

Blaqbonez already stuck to his central theme of sex. All he then had to do was make sure that his sequence excels on sonic cohesion/progression and it did.

While ‘Sex Over Love’ represents the finality of Blaqbonez’s transition from ‘just being a rapper,’ the album significantly retains some impressive Rap/Hip-Hop/Trap tracks like ‘Novacane,’ ‘Heartbreaker,’ ‘Zombie’ and ‘TGF Pussy.’

Other times, his Hip-Hop background shows in parts of the Cloud Rap record, ‘Best Friend’ or the beat switch on ‘Don’t Touch,’ which is the album’s nucleus.

When the tracks are more Afro-infused and a step away from a fundamental reflection of Rap music, Blaqbonez’s inflections, cadences, flow schemes and his ability to find pockets still project the rapper in him. It’s to his credit that he’s found a good use for his rap background and has created a space for himself in the Nigerian pop space.

Sometimes, Blaqbonez’s tuned out, quasi-inaudible vocal texture, vocal pitch manipulation and sex-themed yodeling project him as Young Thug.

A few times, he sounds like a bridge between Travis Scott, Zilla Oaks and Psycho YP. But for the most of this album and regardless of the influences, Blaqbonez’s enunciation of words is still a continuation of his ‘Mr. Boombastic persona’ while his voice and progression also hint at Lil Durk, Quavo without the adlibs and a sing-songy Westside Gunn – not that we’re ever going to see that.

On ‘Cynic Route,’ Blaqbonez also borrows from 6lack and Bryson Tiller.

Topically, Blaqbonez’s music is cut from the same cloth as the loved-out and sexually-charged Young Thug masterpiece, Beautiful Thugger Girls with Future-esque reductionist dispositions. Like Thugger in 2017, Blaqbonez is a rage machine of beautiful vulgarity and catchy lines like “Lemme eat that p*ssy like grocery” on ‘Never Been In Love.’

He also refixes a classic Nigerian school-lunchtime-reciation on ‘TGF Pussy’ when he sings, “Some have pussy but cannot eat/Some can eat but have no pussy/I have pussy and I have eat (oooh)/Thank you, Lord…”

All the while, he has fun while some women might accuse Blaqbonez of objectification on songs like ‘TGF Pussy.’

They might have a point, but the life of a star is not the life of the average man. The women he lays with are not the average Nigerian woman and their disposition to sex is not that of the average woman.

The life of a star is also fraught with constant fear of getting ‘trapped’ with the wrong woman or worse, unintended pregnancy. Either we want to admit it or not, that’s the goal for certain women. That’s why a lot of these male artists prefer love to sex. In their shoes, it’s very hard to trust love and believe any woman’s declarations of it.

Love is also about mental and emotional readiness. One response to that reality is the tendency to protect one’s space.

On ‘Okwaraji,’ Blaqbonez admits this reality. He raps, “I learned to suppress my emotion/Can’t let these fucking b*tches see no emotion/Cuz when they see, they gon’ walk all over you… Why I go chase person when one day, she fit dey with another person…

This reality might not be healthy but it offer insights into why his viewpoint on sex might be different. At worst, the perceived ‘objectification’ on some of these tracks is borderline. With all his sex themes, he is still protective of a certain woman on ‘Don’t Touch.’

At no point on ‘Sex Over Love’ did Blaqbonez intentionally reduce femininity and womanhood to the vain basis of sex.

On ‘Novacane,’ he even admits his own vanity when he raps, “Vanity, I got Stephanie and Brenda…”

He seeks to express his preference for sex > love or his emotional shortcoming as a young Nigerian pop star.

On ‘Heartbreaker,’ he raps about his pre-fame life when he dealt with suicidal thoughts by hugging a bible. Now that he’s a star, he just wants to enjoy stardom, female adulation and live a little. More importantly, why should Blaqbonez love a “h*e” when women hate “f**kboys”?

Rihanna’s ‘Needed Me’ and unrepentantly reductionist sex-themed music from female rappers, Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat, Saweetie, Mulatto, City Girls, Doja Cat and more get modern women off their seats. Why should it be a problem when a man also wants to enjoy sex? Ojoro cancel ojoro, plis.

That’s why Blaq opens ‘Heartbreaker’ with, “This h*e tell me that she likes me, hashtag wanna be my wifey/Hope this dick is enough for you/I’m a heartbreaker not a lover yeah…

Nonetheless, Blaqbonez’s music sometimes projects him as obsessed with and drunk on exuberance and the gifts of his newly minted fame. On ‘Novacane,’ he raps, “They could never stop me, now I got money and I’m never letting go…”

Sometimes like on ‘Bling,’ it feels like he uses his fame as a p*ssy-grabbing mechanism, to the detriment of women around him.

On ‘Novacane,’ he engages class distinction when he raps, “Every time that I pull up I spend your salary… He gotta order his Uber, we are not in the same league…

While those moments might just be a symptom of rap’s obsession with braggadocio and debauchery, this writer’s suspicion is validated in the moments that Blaq unapologetically references his looks. One might feel like his disposition towards sex and class distinction is an overcompensation for his unsavoury experiences, pre-fame.

On ‘Okwaraji,’ he admits that his reluctance to love is a response to pre-fame heartbreaks by Cynthia and Linda. But at different points on this album, he ‘overdoes it’ the ‘sad guy’ plot and he starts to feel a little vindictive.

Blaqbonez’s producers are as much the stars of this album as Blaq himself as well as his A&R. Joeboy kills ‘Fendi,’ Tiwa Savage takes ‘BBC’ to another level with imaginative lyrics from a female perspective, Cheque excels on ‘Best Friend’ while Psycho YP, AQ and Laycon ace ‘Zombie.’

However, ‘Faaji’ featuring 1da Banton is slightly forgettable or maybe it’s just a good record in the wrong sequence.

In the end…

Blaqbonez is conflicted while dealing with different layers of his complex personality. His fear of commitment is just mixed with fame and he has just enjoyed it a little too much.

Ratings: /10

• 0-1.9: Flop

• 2.0-3.9: Near fall

• 4.0-5.9: Average

• 6.0-7.9: Victory

• 8.0-10: Champion

Pulse Rating: /10

Album Sequencing: 1.8/2

Songwriting and Themes: 1.7/2

Production: 1.7/2

Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.5/2

Execution: 1.5/2

8.2 – Victory

Source: pulse.ng