‘TESLIM’ which is the acronym for ‘The Energy Still Live In Me’ is somewhat of a mantra for Vector. The mantra conveys his class, grace, talent, and maybe even his ego. And on this new project, he explores basic Afrobeats sounds that employ catchy elements while remaining within the Hip Hop territory, and this is what makes this project his most enjoyable yet.
On ‘TESLIM’, Vector discusses everyday conversations from a personal lens while recruiting voices that can offer the catchy ring and sheer musicality that makes for an enjoyable project.
The opening track sees him give a monologue on his life as a star. From admitting to the strain of having a baby mama to being a sex idol, and an artist whose life is shaped by the everyday experiences of the street. While these experience has always been true, Vector tends to adopt a somewhat complex way of expressing it such that it alienates many listeners. On ‘TESLIM’, he was however able to find a balance in retaining the witty lyricism he enjoys while delivering it in a fancy Afrobeats box.
The topics he explores on this album are as personal as they are relatable. In ‘I Need You’, he pens a letter to his child through rich prose that captures his thoughts. He had a moment of introspection like in the Afrobeats record ‘You don’t know’ where he expresses his gratitude while celebrating his success. In ‘Insomnia’ he talks about his delusion about organized religion and the internal conflicts and the meaning of life alluding to events such as the collapse of the Synagogue’s Church and the EndSARS event. He switches to his famous spoken word mode which feels like he was thinking out aloud and made the content offer the required sobriety to digest it.
Even in ‘Mercy’, he continues to offer an insight into the philosophy that shapes his life. He switches between singing and Pop rap as he talks about living life on his terms. He admits to being disillusioned with religion but is still conscious of not damning his soul. He admits to saying a prayer before he leaves the house every morning and this belief in a superior power despite his conflict with religion is notable in the chorus where he prays for blessings. The beat, Seyi Vibez, and the use of crowd vocals offered the glossy dominant Afrobeats elements that will invariably make this record a listener favorite.
In ‘Why Me’ which is one of the best songs of the project, he gets into his Balotelli mode as he thumps his chest while sparing a word of his detractors. The drums and chords are catchy and the hooks offer the simplicity and melodious appeal needed for the listener’s gratification.
While there the opening 6 songs offered a glossy sound that offers enjoyability to non Hip Hop listeners, Vector balances it with Hip Hop records that run from tracks 7 – 11.
In ‘Shoki Shombolo’, he celebrates his success while calling out his friends some of whom he describes as enemies trying to end him. He uses kids’ vocals which is an enduring element in Hip Hop that runs from Jay-Z‘s 1998 record ‘Hard Knock Life’ to 2008 Lil Wayne‘s record ‘Mr. Carter’. Vector chose to have the kids sing in Yoruba to establish a cultural essence.
He taps fellow Nigerian heavyweight rapper Ladipoe for ‘Clowns’ as they trade bars in a supercharged Hip Hop record where they talk about a certain level of greed that exists in the average person out of the desire for social security that culminates into greed. Vector finds himself in his element in this record, especially as he has a record for shining on tracks that has other rappers. He held his own against Sarkodie when the Ghanaian was at his most ruthless and dominant form. He dominated a track with M.I on ‘Crown of Clay’ and he opened the floor with a swaggering template which Ladipoe complimented. He taps into luxury rap in ‘Big Flexa’ in which A-O Machine uses his smooth baritone to deliver a simple and catchy chorus.
In ‘What’s That II’ feat South Africa’s superstar rapper Nasty C, Vector was not going to be outdone. The spicy beat with its heavy kick, smooth adlibs, and Pop rap flows makes for a catchy tune dedicated to beautiful women and which can make for a club banger. This international feature plays out again in ‘Fefe (Ferarri)’ feat Shado Chris the Ivorian artist and producer and I think Vector has his smoothest rap on this track so much that the language barrier is defeated by the melody and captivating chorus.
The last part of the album offered a slower tempo as he talks about being a player, having an appetite for beautiful women, and knowing his way around the female body.
He chose to take the hook on ‘Maradona’ a song that has the great vocalist Wande Coal and he pulled it off. The Swing record sees them admit to being a player. The sheer appeal of this record makes it appealing to both Nigerian and international listeners.
He links up with Seun Kuti for the Afrobeat record ‘Mami Wata’ where he raps in pidgin about the famous Nigerian marine spirit notorious for their beauty. The sheer musicality of this track uplifts it and showcases the different unique ways Afrobeat can spill into Afrobeats.
‘Early Momo’ is as stimulating in content as it’s in sound and I think it would have been perfect if it came after ‘Maradona’ instead of being punctuated by the Afrobeat ‘Mami Wota’.
In ‘TESLIM’ Vector offered fragments of himself that resonate with listeners.
He successfully balanced Afrobeats with Hip Hop while reaching out to an international audience through glowing collaborations and successful sonic exploration.
The album sequencing allowed for the project to be segmented into 3 parts that offer Afrobeats, Hip Hop, and international sound.
Topically, he was introspective while being relatable. He was able to also touch on commercially appealing subject matters that made for easy digestion.
The features on the album were well-placed and the songs delivered content and appeal. The album delivered some great singles like ‘Why Me’, ‘Mercy’, ‘What’s That II’, ‘Maradona’, and ‘Fefe’. And as a body of work, it offers an enjoyable experience.
Overall, with ‘TESLIM’, Vector delivered a body of work that showcases what he has always been capable of.
Songwriting, Themes, and Delivery: 1.7/2
Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.6/2
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