#THROWBACK: A Review of Omawumi’s ‘Lasso of Truth’

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‘Lasso of Truth’, Omawumi’s sophomore album, accentuates that which has already been stated in her debut album; that is, the symbolic presentation of her self-appointed role in the music industry as “Wonder Woman”. Her extraordinary voice is her Lasso; her purpose is to consciously lash it out at societal issues for the benefit of her people, country and continent. So, it appears that deriving maximum gratification from ‘Lasso of Truth’ is hugely dependent on one’s understanding of this basic symbolism and sense of purpose. Consequently, my perception of this album, in terms of it being “conscious”, is that it isn’t far removed from what I believe Tuface Idibia achieves with ‘Above and Beyond’, an LP that offers you the middle finger if everything you expect of it is dance-dance-dance yet thoroughly entertains with quality music and depth. For me, that’s good enough credit for the album but barring Omawumi’s inclusion of one or two big hits that we are already familiar with, I envisage that many could consider it boring.

Omawumi uses ‘Lasso of Truth’ to immortalise some expressions that are not just uniquely Nigerian but also used to reshape societal values. Expressions like “Actor sef dey run” slash “actor no dey die”, “Na who dey alive nah in dey chop” and “Monkey dey work, baboon dey chop” respectively used in ‘When the Boss is Coming’, ‘Stay Alive’ and ‘What a Bang Bang’ are useful examples. The message in ‘When the Boss is Coming’ is simple: You live to fight another day—a theme that’s more solemnly dealt with in ‘Stay Alive’. I must mention my love for Omawumi’s pronunciation of the vowel in “boss” as found in words like “those” and “hoes” though; it ensures that the song’s techno-background is effectively “Africanised” even more than does her employment of Pidgin English in the lyrics. If ‘When the Boss Coming’ is that remarkable, ‘What a Bang Bang’ turns out to be a nicer Afro-pop cut. The track features Tuface Idibia and is a situation song that communicates its message through colloquial pidgin expressions understood by majority of Nigerians. What defines us as a people is deeply reflected in the language utilized in this album. Very nice!

No doubt, tracks like ‘If you ask me’, ‘The African Way’, ‘I Go Go’ and ‘Belle’ also exhibit exciting themes, they however couldn’t have been effectively conveyed without top-notch production credits. Cobhams is superb with the keys on ‘If You ask me’, a song that’s been successful long before this album came out, and technically impressive yet delightfully playful with his reggae-flavour on ‘I Go Go’. Also, ‘The African Way’ makes a point that, for obvious reasons, can’t be over-emphasised. Nevertheless, I believe the theme is over-flogged and there’s need for Nigerian musicians of this generation to keep searching for better, less overt ways of exporting our “African ways”. But then, Don Jazzy’s rescue mission of this situation is so terrific that I had to tell myself to chill; he apparently took the song above average. Alongside ‘Belle’, produced by Soso Soberekon, ‘The African Way’, ‘If You Ask Me’ and ‘I Go Go’ could have make the shortlist of the best productions on ‘Lasso of Truth’ but for this revelation: Sizzle Pro.

Granted, the name’s very unfamiliar. I mean, names like Sarz, Cobhams and Don Jazzy should ideally eclipse that of Sizzle Pro if found on the same project. Regardless of that, chances are that after you’ve listened to ‘Stay Alive’, ‘When the Boss is Coming’, and ‘Life Goes on’ you’d want to keep a tab on Sizzle Pro. More so, ‘The Best You Can Be’ which tells a competing story about parenting could have been “so so” without his help. His imagination and style are comparable to those of Cobhams and his versatility radiates brightly in ‘When the Boss is Coming’. Long and short, Omawumi employs the best hands to help weld her ‘Lasso of Truth’.

The downs in this album are quite few. ‘Personal Race’ coveys another over-flogged idea with the help of Timaya whose musical thrust revolves around his enemies and “Life anagaga”. Much as they tried, Omawumi and Young D, the producer, don’t seem to have put in enough work to overshadow this glitch. Plus, Timaya’s verse is one that’ll make you think, “yeah yeah I get the message”. Similarly, ‘You Must Love Me’ doesn’t sound good enough a concept and its total package leaves you with not much to be excited about. Also, ‘Warn Yourself’ is quite nice with Omawumi’s powerful voice and delivery effectively driving the song’s assertion home but Wizkid’s incoherent, wishy-washy hook is one unforgivable spoil joy. The song would have been better without Wizkid’s appearance.

In the end, ‘Lasso of Truth’ is to ‘Asa’ what Ronaldo is to Lionel Messi in Soccer or what Usain Bolt is to Yohan Blake during last year’s Olympics. Never mind that analogy. Here’s its simple translation: whenever you think of Asa as arguably the best female musical export we have yet, Omawumi should in effect come next.

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