‘El Major’ is Spanish for ‘The Best’ and it’s this superlative talent that T.I Blaze seeks to offer on this album while simultaneously referring to himself as the best of his peers.
Street music acts in Nigeria, their music draws from similar inspiration hence the familiarity in topic, sonics, and even delivery.
T.I Blaze carries a different delivery style that leans more toward Pop than toward the indigenous sounds – Fuji, Apala, Tungba, and Juju. While the content of his music and the language he uses positions him as a street act, his sound is primarily Pop which makes him quite a different street act, and this difference is boldly highlighted on his debut album ‘EL Major’.
Released 18th, November 2022 ‘EL Major’ documents the success T.I Blaze has enjoyed since he broke into the limelight.
While Street-pop appears like an appropriate description for the album as T.I Blaze explores different Pop sounds, the pop sound doesn’t align with street sonics. Also, he uses more Pidgin and English than he uses Yoruba which is not very street-like.
He explores familiar subjects of struggle, success, individuality, pleasure, and love, over different varying pop sounds that carry sonic and delivery imprints which sometimes appear one-dimensional.
With an artist like T.I Blaze, listeners know what to expect in terms of subject matter as his music is by and large a documentation of shared realities.
In ‘Good Life’ and ‘Benefit’ he talks about developing a hunger for success from the hardship – “dem no dey tell pesin” he says in familiar street lingua. He celebrates the success of the struggle while maintaining a grateful heart – “Alhamdullahi” he says thanking God as he displays the connection to religious beliefs common with his peers. In both singles, he sings, exploring the lengths of his vocals and like a Pop artist, he doesn’t aspire to the range of an R&B artist.
He turns to Swing in ‘Yawa’ on which he features Backroad Gee as he offers one of the best songs in an early run. He explores individuality – “One man soldier” – he calls himself as he reinstated his intolerance for being taken for a rider either from a woman he’s interested in or from friends.
A sonic imprint that borders on one-dimensional is a risk that an artist like T.I Blaze runs due to his style. A song like ‘Lock Up’ where he calls himself the Professor Pella of music sounds similar to ‘Kilo’ feat. Skibii where they tell detractors to shut up.
In ‘Far Away’ listeners will strain to hear what he says as he muffles his vocals over a Swing beat. He turns to Dancehall in ‘Panic’ where he explores his desires over a beat that employs horns and riffs from a tropical feel. In ‘Vigour’ he resorts to a 2Baba-styled delivery as talks about the wonders of the female body over Amapiano. The singles are decent but the run from ‘Far Away’ to ‘Vigour’ is a chink in the album’s amour.
He taps fast-rising sensation Fave for the Pop record ‘Play’ as he discusses the vulnerability of falling in love. Their vocal blends as they achieve an R&B rhythm similar to the synergy he had with Blxckie and Rasaki NFG on ‘Basic’.
The album enjoyed a strong close with the collaborations ‘Fire Down’ feat Camidoh and ‘Frenemies’ feat Ladipoe excelling both on strategy and music.
The log drum-propelled ‘My Life’ is maybe the only club hit on the album and it would have been better placed in the upper half of the album just after ‘Lock Away’ for its street cadence and appeal.
While his content and style allow T.I Blaze to be classified into the street-pop category, the composition is largely Pop.
On ‘EL Major’ T.I Blaze seeks to announce that he’s an artist that’s here to stay and he does this through mass-appealing sound while discussing familiar subjects. Similarly, he recruits artists with the elasticity to fit into the album blueprint while also seeking a wider listener base.
While the album achieves sonic coherence, there are times when the delivery style might sound too similar to an average listener. His style on ‘Lock Away’ and ‘Kilo’ are strikingly similar. Similarly, his flow on the Swing and Dancehall records – ‘Yawa’ and ‘Panic’ are alike.
In terms of album sequencing, I believe the track arrangement could have been better. The album could have been divided into three sonic sections. The first part should have been the Amapiano and log drums propelled ‘Benefit’, ‘Lock Up’, ‘Vigour’, ‘Fire Down’, and ‘My Life’. The Swing records ‘Yawa’, ‘Far Away’, and ‘Panic’ could have made up the second part while ‘Kilo’, ‘Play’, ‘Frenemies’, and ‘Alone’ make up the final part.
Overall, ‘El Major’, is an album made from a place of confidence from an artist who wishes to be more. While the album might not have been as convincing, he has however shown the audience what he’s about.
Songwriting, Themes, and Delivery: 1.5/2
Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.5/2
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