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“Bad Boy Etiquette 102” Review: Ajebo Hustlers Unpack the Human Condition on New Project

“Bad Boy Etiquette 102” Review: Ajebo Hustlers Unpack the Human Condition on New Project

Bad Boy Etiquette 102 is an incredible project that sees Ajebo Hustlers diving deep into human and emotional dynamics, fuelled by local lingua and culture with some of the finest productions to boot.

By Emmanuel Okoro

Port Harcourt has long been a fertile ground for Nigeria’s musical talents. From Highlife singer and trumpeter, Rex Lawson, to Timaya, Sky B, Duncan Mighty, and Muma Gee, who rocked the 2000s, the region has always introduced fresh talents who inject their urban sounds into the music scene. Over the last decade, the city has ushered in acts like Mr 2Kay, 1da Banton, Idahams, Mercy Chinwo, Omah Lay, and the current face of African music, Burna Boy. Amongst the latest crop of talents emerging from this vibrant scene is Ajebo Hustlers, whose latest project, Bad Boy Etiquette 102: Continuous Assessment, builds upon their rising reputation in the music industry.

The duo, comprised of singer, Isaiah Precious, known as Piego, and rapper, George Dandeson, known as Knowledge, met as waiters in a restaurant, discovered their common interests in music, and hit it off. The result was their 2020 breakout single “Barawo”, which, along with Davido’s “FEM”, became the unofficial anthem during nationwide End Sars protests later that year. The duo maintained their foothold on the mainstream with 2021 records like “Pronto”, “Symbiosis”, and “Loyalty”.

On Bad Boy Etiquette 102 – an iteration of their 2022 EP, Bad Boy Etiquette 101 – Ajebo Hustlers deliver a socio-economic commentary on the human experience, particularly that of being from West Africa. It’s a manual of sorts, offering insights and reflections through its 10 tracks spanning 31 minutes.

It opens with “Dreams II”, a mid-tempo bop propelled by Piego’s melodies. The lyrics paint the struggles of the average Nigerian striving for success against the odds. Lines like “My plans laid out, smart boy executing my goals/ Me, I want to make sure when I strike, e go enter for me for the post”, on the chorus, reveal an unwavering approach to achieving their visions. Hip-Hop acts, Zlatan and Blaqbonez, appear in the song, and their verses inject complexity into its overarching theme. 

If there were ever an anthem for stoners worldwide, perhaps it would be the TUC-produced “Last Week”. The track is characterised by lush drum rolls and light electric guitar plucks, creating a smooth backdrop for their verses. Their lyrics peer into the life of an addict who finds themselves dealing with withdrawal symptoms, portraying the struggles and temptations they face. Delivered mostly in Port Harcourt pidgin, a dialect distinct from the generic Nigerian Pidgin, their verses add more relativity to the song and perhaps the project as a whole. Lines like “My Shima dey para say I dey blar when I never chop/ Na every day I dey tell her I go stop/ If I nor muzz, if I nor puff puff pass, my brother tell me how I go dey meet up”, explores the desperation and dependency associated with being a stoner. Rapper Jeriq joins them with a mellow, rapid-fire delivery, seamlessly blending with the track’s vibe.

“Bad Boy Etiquette 102” Review: Ajebo Hustlers Unpack the Human Condition on New Project | Afrocritik
Ajebo Hustlers

The sonic trajectory of Bad Boy Etiquette 102 shifts as delicate synth progressions and shakers introduce “You Go Know”, a boom-bap-infused tune. Here, Ajebo Hustlers offers proverbial takes on street smartness and social currency while navigating through life. The chorus stands out for its poetic resonance; “If you nor use your head, they go use am drink garri”. It’s a cautionary reminder to remain vigilant when dealing with others. On “Wicked”, they serve up an ode to a mystery woman whose beauty and schemes have left them perplexed. Knowledge’s lines address this, “She get that wicked and sexy vibe, what type of human being you be?/ I don’t get it, like you shenk me today, tomorrow you go text me like you pet me right”. It’s an instant earworm.

One of the project’s lead singles, “Celine Dion”, makes a powerful entrance with soft violin strings that create an atmosphere of emotional intensity. As the mid-tempo mellow drums kick in, Ajebo Hustlers delivers a ballad painting an intimate moment with a love interest. They shower her with praise, applauding her performance with lines like “Her attitude na zero but she sabi kill mosquito/ Her body dey popori e dey boost my libido.” There’s no better feature on this track than Odumodublvck, who commandeers and elevates the song’s undertones with his melodies and verse.

On “Undecided”, the first thing you hear is Raebel’s sonorous vocals floating effortlessly over the groovy basslines that usher in a Dancehall-infused tune. She questions her place in her lover’s life, seeking clarity and reassurance. While Piego assures her of his commitment, Knowledge’s verse expresses internal doubts over the matter. The interplay of emotions makes “Undecided” a standout record on the project.

“Bad Boy Etiquette 102” Review: Ajebo Hustlers Unpack the Human Condition on New Project | Afrocritik
Bad Boy Etiquette 102 tracklist

“Kisses II” slides in next and acts as a rejoinder for the previous track. Here, Ajebo Hustlers decide to call it quits with their love interest and provide their perspective, or at least justify why. While this track requires no assistance, Mavin signee, Magixx, appears and boosts the narrative. Lines such as, “I tell her ‘what’s your star sign?’/ She say Cancer; If I been don know, I for japa”, reveal she’s now bad news. CJ Obassey’s skilful guitar plucks layered over Ayzed’s production tie the song together beautifully.

Bad Boy Etiquette 102 sonically shifts once again with “Sweet & Sour” featuring Ghanaian sensation, King Promise. Here, they deal with the meltdown that comes with a relationship that once held promise. Here, their sentiments border on finding closure and moving on. While “No Wam” revamps the themes explored in the previous track, Ajebo Hustlers struggle to resign to fate, maintaining nonchalance in interpersonal relationships.

Bad Boy Etiquette 102 cover
Bad Boy Etiquette 102 album cover

The project ends with the Highlife and Drill-powered “Burn My Cable II” featuring Ghanaian Rap luminary, Sarkodie. The lyrics explore a love interest who keeps them on their toes, compelling them to comport themselves with decorum. Despite their reservations, there’s a sense of respect for the dynamic created by this relationship. It’s a fitting conclusion to the album.

Bad Boy Etiquette 102 is an incredible project that sees Ajebo Hustlers diving deep into human and emotional dynamics, fuelled by local lingua and culture, with some of the finest productions to boot. The project works, not only because of Piego’s melodic prowess and Knowledge’s gritty lyricism, but also due to their ability to focus on a theme and thoroughly explore it. Their sonic maturity shines on each track — their evolution palpable since their breakout single. Thus, the project is a testament to their potential and a promising indication of what the future holds as they continue to push boundaries.

See Also
Afrocritik Weekly Music Spotlight 2024: Week 8

Lyricism – 1.7

Tracklisting – 1.5

Sound Engineering – 1.6

Vocalisation – 1.6

Listening Experience – 1.6

Rating – 8.0/10

Emmanuel ‘Waziri’ Okoro is a content writer and journo with an insatiable knack for music and pop culture. When he’s not writing, you will find him arguing why Arsenal FC is the best football club in the multiverse. Connect with him on X, Instagram, and Threads: @BughiLorde

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