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Falz's 'BAHD' is difficult to categorize [Pulse album review]

Falz’s ‘BAHD’ is difficult to categorize [Pulse album review]

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On his last album ‘Moral Instruction’ Falz leaned entirely towards didacticism in making an album that provided a pipeline into his exciting mind and allowed listeners to explore his views on different societal subjects.

Leading to his recent album ‘Bahd,’ Falz has released several singles including ‘Bop Daddy’ and ‘One Trouser,’ which were rap. Then he switched to Amapiano and scored some great singles with ‘Squander’ featuring Niniola and ‘Oga’ with Sayfar and Bontle Smith.

Going by his releases, it was not easy to pinpoint the soundscape Falz was scouring. However, if most listeners had to guess, they might say Amapiano.

Known as Falz The Bahd Guy, perhaps ‘Bahd’ was intended to showcase a sexy, manly, and larger-than-life version of Falz. However, it’s difficult to reconcile the content with this intention. And should this not be Falz’s intention, it’s difficult to find one in the body of work.

‘Another Me’ is a rap song with a hip-hop beat that employs some piano and a bass guitar solo that gives it a rock/jazz feel. Falz delivers a smooth verse which talks about his unique talent, both in his craft and with his women. As far as the album name goes, the single points to the fact that he’s a bad guy and there’s none like him.

After the rap opener, the album went straight into a rather formless sound with ‘All Night,’ ‘Sun Flower’ featuring Tiwa Savage, and ‘Parampe.’

‘All Night’ has a bouncy beat that has Falz singing. Falz has always known how to convey his desires and in this single, he does that with a mixture of rap, singing, and his trademark blend of English, Yoruba, and pidgin. However, his singing fails him as the melody falls flat. The hook also doesn’t hold up which further reduces its appeal.

Falz continued his singing in ‘Beautiful Sunflower’ and this time, he performs better than he did in ‘All Night.’ which is a love song. The content is smooth, simple, and a bit corny – all the elements of a bad guy. Tiwa Savage’s delivery is exquisite and with flawless production, the single repositioned the album for an enjoyable listen.

All the good work Falz and Tiwa Savage did on ‘Beautiful Sunflower’ was swiftly undone by ‘Parampe’ which can be categorized as a blend of Afrobeat and Reggae. Falz again was singing but this time, he switched to the Fela Afrobeat style even using his trademark backup vocals.

‘Parampe’ is just one of those Falz songs where he mixes singing with poetry-style rap only that this time, he leans towards Afrobeat. In this single, Falz emphasizes his untouchable status using a blend of proverbs and witty lines. The song is dull and sonically out of place and not even the percussion, sax, and the reggae couldn’t help.

Once again, ‘Kneel Down‘ restored the album to an enjoyable note. Chike‘s stimulating hook and Falz’s calm delivery combined perfectly to create an enjoyable song that’s a reflection of the current trend in Nigeria’s hip-hop scene. In ‘Kneel Down,’ Falz shows vulnerability and admits to his fear of losing someone he holds dear.

The chaotic track arrangement continues with ‘Gentleman’ which comes at the back of ‘Pull Up’ which had a similar beat and enjoyable melodic sequence to ‘Kneel Down.’

‘Gentleman,’ seems to pop out of nowhere with Falz unceremoniously switching to rap. The chivalrous content is easily digestible and the delivery is decent. However, the song disrupted the album’s flow, and this alone was enough to make it hard to enjoy.

Cavemen are a regular on recent albums and this constant show might have set their contribution in diminishing returns similar to how Sauti Sol‘s Nigerian collaborations post-Burna Boy‘s ‘Twice As Tall’ just didn’t cut it. On ‘Woman,’ Cavemen combined with Falz for a forgettable song. The sprinkling of highlife/palm wine music into the album is in line with the incoherent soundscape that pervades the album.

From attempting to use palm wine music to give the album some sonic depth, Falz once again unceremoniously switched to what was already an exhausting singing style. In ‘Tender Love,’ Falz struggled to deliver an enjoyable harmonic sequence and the hook is simply awful.

It was almost as if Falz was deliberately pairing a good song with a bad one as ‘Tender Love’ was followed by ‘Inside’ which is one of the gems in the album. Timaya does excellently with his unique vocals and Boy Spyce delivered the most stunning verse on the album which is only rivaled by Chike’s performance.

To be honest, the single should have ended with Track 10. Nobody would have really missed L.A.X‘s weak chorus and Falz repetitive flows on ‘Roger Miller.’

“When I scream, you scream, we scream for Ice Cream…” Oh please! There’s absolutely no way Falz thought this was a good song to close off the album. His mediocre rap verse combined with BNXN‘s lazy chorus on ‘Ice Cream’ was simply provocative.

‘Bahd’ is best described as an album that chaotically combines Afropop, hip hop, some Afrobeat, and Cavemen for the aesthetic. Without a definitive sonic structure or theme, ‘Bahd’ does not offer much in terms of coherence, harmony, and enjoyability.

The album had some nice songs notably ‘Kneel Down,’ ‘Sun Flower,’ ‘Pull Up,’ and ‘Inside.’ Also ‘Gentleman’ is a good single whose potential would have been better captured if rightly placed.

Thematically, ‘Bahd’ is a step away from the didacticism Falz is known for. It touches on love, weakness, desire, emotions, and braggadocio. The album could have used a bit less theme repetition but overall, it was good.

With respect to track arrangement and enjoyability, ‘Bahd’ struggled to retain a coherent soundscape and this makes it difficult to enjoy.

The production, mixing, and sound engineering are quite good with ‘Kneel Down,’ ‘Inside,’ and ‘Ice Cream’ standing out.

Overall, ‘Bahd’ isn’t great but it isn’t poor either. It’s a couple of tracks away from being a good album and also a few tracks away from being a bad album. Simply put, it’s an album that’s hard to categorize.

Themes and Delivery: 1.5/2

Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1/2

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