RECORD LABEL/DISTRIBUTION – Empire Mates Entertainment/UBA Pacific
In the first place, musicians aren’t guaranteed of any pensions when they retire, so I would imagine any anger they feel towards the recent Pensions Reform Task Force fiasco would be fairly contrived. Banky Wwould probably be able to relate best, his self-described pension plan, Wizkid, is threatening to do his best Abdulrasheed Maina impression and go ghost on him. Wizkid is conspicuously missing on Banky W’s fourth full-length LP R&BW, but it’s certainly not something to dwell on. When the teacher doesn’t come to class, class is canceled. However, when the most intelligent student doesn’t come to class, the teacher marks them ‘absent’, closes the register and class goes on.
When Banky W makes the curious decision to begin R&BW with the dancehall-inspired The Way, two questions come to mind: A.) does the album’s content mirror its title or B.) is the album merely a play on words? I would say the former; non-R&B efforts are few and far between on R&BW. EME’s first lady Niyolajoins Banky on a hi-life stroll on the well-written Be My Lover, a song christened as the second part ofYes/No, R&BW’s most popular single. Banky is a superior songwriter, an attribute he doesn’t get enough credit for. He also doesn’t get enough credit for his rhyming, which is a shame because Banky has always been a damn good rapper. Banky MC trades bars with a continental cast of emcees on the chest-thumping African and Proud and does some more bragging on More with frequent collaborators M.I.and eLDee; Banky more than holds his own ‘my God is more than able… My PA has more fans than your label. ‘ He then puts away the braggadocio to play ‘father’ with Lynxxx on the deeply intimate To my unborn child.
There has been much ado about Banky’s baldheaded look for this album’s cover, on the project proper however, he wears the proverbial ‘many hats’ – an artiste determined to deliver a good body of work to his audience and a label boss trying to give his upstarts a platform to build audiences of their own. Skales seems the most ready to seize this platform and his solid shift on the Cobhams-produced soulful trackMagic will serve to enhance his profile. However, stylistically Shaydee seems most similar to Banky, he joins his boss to urge a current lover to ignore past transgressions on the crisp Past My Past and they both invite a whole posse of R&B up and comers to the albums most sensual number - Say. However, Banky’s class shines best when he’s all alone, solo traditional R&B efforts such as the sultry Low Key and the cinematic Find You explain exactly why, even without an album in more than three years, Banky W has remained the king of Nigerian R&B.
Now, it is true that Wizkid’s ominous departure from the fold means Banky might have to delay any real or jocular plans of retirement. However, to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of EME’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
If this album is anything to go by, I suspect Banky W and company will do just fine.