They had all the leverage and artists and execs alike pandered to them heavily. Neptune always had a personality. From the Hip-Hop era, Neptune’s mind for music was an instant attraction for artists. That’s why superstar features are seldom tough for him. If the young artist doesn’t understand who approached him for a verse, his OG or label exec will tell him.
Streaming might be slowly becoming the new reality, but we’re still some way off the reality, where DJs are irrelevant. Radio remains the biggest purveyor for Nigerian music, and at the helm of affairs is DJs. Neptune might have transitioned out, but he’s still one of Africa’s most sought-after DJs.
On November 26, 2021, he released Greatness 2.0, his sophomore album. It’s a follow-up to his 2018 effort, Greatness. Like its predecessor, Neptune’s 2021 album is a marker in time: like a playlist, which documents the sounds and sound makers of a time. ‘Greatness’ was a blend of established stars and periodic/transient sound makers, who indelibly marked the sands of Nigerian sonic times.
But ‘Greatness 2.0,’ is an entirely different experience. While it houses some established stars, it’s mostly a nod to the current sonic reality and the future of African music, as afforded by the success of Neptune’s continental smash, ‘Nobody.’ The album features African stars like Focalistic, Harmonize, Anjella and Kofi Jammar on appropriate beats, with the suitable genres.
At its nucleus is Neptune, who serves as Executive Producer and A&R. He leads with his earned understanding of sounds and suitable artists. He also shows that he has evolved with time, and stayed the course as Nigerian music continues to evolve, with a yearly launch of new players.
At times, it feels like Neptune either has an amazing ear for great beats and matches them with the right feature, or has an artist in mind, and simply tasks Magic with making a suitable beat – ‘Love Potion’ seems modeled after Adekunle Gold’s recent singles while ‘Recipe’ seems to be modeled after ‘Highway’ and Phyno’s recent dabbles in traditional sounds like Ogene and Ekpili.
Regardless, on every track, there is an alignment of beat, feature and delivery. ‘For You’ is a perfect record for Rema, ‘Rise Up’ is perfect for Waje and a Laycon cameo, the sex-themed ‘Cupid’ is perfect for Blaqbonez, ‘Hustle’ is perfect for Focalistic, ‘Love Potion’ aligns with the new Adekunkule Gold, ‘Only Fan’ is perfect for Omah Lay and ‘My Woman’ is the perfect East African record.
Whenever he features two artists on a record, the sound engineering is brilliant enough to make one artist the main focus without making the other artist seem like a peripheral figure.
‘Greatness 2.0’ is one of Nigeria’s smoothest albums of 2021 – a year filled with a frustrating amount of EPs. The average listener will recognize that 16 tracks at 46 minutes is too long, but cutting any track aside from ‘Nobody’ will prove a tough ask for anybody.
Neptune’s greatest win on this album is how he creates a playlist-esque album filled with bangers, without making it scatterbrained. There is a cohesive sequential transition between tracks. It probably helps that most of the tracks were produced by the mercurial Magic.
This is what Davido has been trying to achieve with his album, but can’t seem to get right. He should tap Neptune to A&R his next album. More importantly, this album has tons of potential hit singles for Neptune to pick from, and he could even choose to spread his hits across Africa. On streaming platforms, this will actually feel like an album.
That said, the inclusion of ‘Nobody’ on this album is disturbing and lazy, even though this writer understands the tactic behind such a decision. ‘Greatness 2.0’ is also a weird album title. Greatness is just greatness, it has no sequel. And that cover art is weird.
Themes and Delivery: 1.5/2
Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.5/2