Sunday , September 19 2021

The existential themes and riveting honesty of Kelechi’s ‘Going Home’ [Pulse Album Review]


He then repeats the same ‘On Me.’

On his ninth body of work, Kelechi encapsulates the opening words of his Twitter bio. His story is one of existential duality, underpinned by a desire to shine and confidence to succeed. Unlike anything Kelechi has previously done – save for 2017’s Quarter Life Crisis – this album is defined by its authentic, riveting honesty.

Born to Nigerian parents in Atlanta, Georgia, Kelechi’s story has always been woven into uncertainty. As his mom revealed on ‘Thank You,’ he was meant to have a brother who sadly passed away at a young age.

As he revealed on ‘Going Home,’ he battled detraction and racist doubts from white people as well as a raw yearning for success while rejecting major label deals to stay independent. Now, Kelechi is embracing his Nigerian roots and telling his story, in its raw purity and ugly beauty.

On ‘Get High,’ he shoots down negative tones from friends who aim to prevent him from changing and embraces his African roots in sound and language. He raps that, “All I ever did was do me and these n***as mad…”

Appropriately titled, Going Home, this album has different connotations to Kelechi’s ‘home.’

There is the home, which he visits by way of Afro-pop sound, claiming his Igbo heritage and speaking in Pidgin. There’s the home, which he arrives at after engaging in the cathartic story of his formation. There’s also another home; a place of freedom, happiness and confidence that Kelechi attains on ‘Going Home,’ the penultimate track on this album.

More importantly, ‘home’ is Kelechi’s representation of things he’d previously left unaddressed or things he’d addressed haphazardly. This is a personal journey of self-discovery for Kelechi.

The album is a concept around life on tour, through which Kelechi discovers himself. He started the journey as a “100% ‘N***a On Tour’ who finds himself in Los Angeles, California. As he reveals on ‘Road Life,’ Kelechi always felt, “[He] was made for the road life…”

But soon, he discovers that the things which make him happy lie in ‘Going Home.’

The self-discovery comes via his longing for his lover on tracks like ‘Real Life,’ ‘Waiting On You’ and ‘On Me.’ Even his didactic conversation with Jidenna is conceptualized as a quick backstage chatter as he comes off stage and Jidenna is set to go on stage.

He confronts his father’s imperfections by understanding them, not fighting them via a presumed phone conversation. He also gets his mother’s perspective about the purpose of his life via a phone conversation as well.

He sees himself and his needs clearly for the first time, but he needed to understand himself and his own story first. More importantly, he discovered what is truly important to him. But beneath it all was a yearning, buried beneath the ambition and a need to succeed.

While he goes back home to Nigeria with his Afro-pop sound, he heads back home to become ‘100% Atlanta, Georgia’ in person. Through it all, Kelechi sees providence, not strife. Across the album are clear instances of his Christian faith.

The opening track comes with a sample of a popular Christian record. His parents also alluded to God on ‘Thank You’ and ‘Like My Dad.’ He himself says ‘Thank You’ to God and raps that, “I’m probably God’s most hard-headed child, but he still looks out for me…” on ‘DFWM.’

On ‘Ni***s On Tour,’ he raps that, “I’m manifesting my destiny, I can feel my ancestors protecting my energy. I’ve been fighting a way while I’m searching for inner peace…”

Nothing underlines Kelechi’s sharp self-discovery, transition and new desire more than the smooth sonic transition of ‘Road Life,’ from lonely guitars, and Alternative hue, tailored to conscious Hip-Hop into a groovy Afro-pop sound.

Final Thoughts

Tracks like ‘The Word’ are thematically astute, but their place in the concept is left at the mercy of a listener, which is never a good idea. ‘Waiting For You (Remix)’ also feels like an excess. Nonetheless, this is still a brilliant album that has a lot of attractive points.

If ‘DFWM’ is the first thing after he got back home, that’s a sound decision and a good precedent for his next album, probably titled, Atlanta, My Home.

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: 1.7/2

Themes, Topics and Delivery: 1.7/2

Production: 1.62

Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.5/2

Execution: 1.5/2

Total:

8.0 – Champion

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