Sean Tizzle’s Dues is proof that he isn’t done just yet; it is a refreshing take from an artist intentional about his legacy…
By Emmanuel Okoro
Sean Tizzle is one name that has thrilled Nigerian music lovers since the early 2010s. With bangers like “Sho Lee,” “Loke Loke,” “Perfect Gentlemen,” and a debut album as impactful as 2014’s The Journey, his ascent to superstar status was almost certain.
However, that journey has been long and tumultuous. This concept is not unfamiliar to creatives who want to strike a balance between being authentic and releasing projects that resonate with a wider audience. This burden drives you to experiment and wade into different waters while holding on to your anchor.
Four impressive projects later, Sean Tizzle (real name Morihanfen Oluwaseun Oluwabamidele) is back with Dues at a time when the Nigerian and African music ecosystem is thriving with diverse, genre-bending talents. Known for his soulful vocals and delivery, Sean Tizzle mesmerises audiences with a body of work that showcase his growth as an artist.
Dues, devoid of any features, opens with “Al Barakah,” a captivating mid-tempo dancehall submission that bears a sonic semblance to Patoranking’s “Alubarika.” It is a heartfelt, introspective song that heralds the challenges Sean Tizzle has faced up until this point. However, he is thankful for where he is right now. “Anytime wey dem dey wahala me, Oluwa na you dey pamper me, Na you say make me I no worry, The way you bless me just dey wonder me,” he sings at the beginning.
The album picks up with “Witness,” and we are treated to a confident and easy-going display of Sean Tizzle’s musical prowess. Set against a backdrop of punctuated bass and lead guitar strings, Sean Tizzle’s smooth vocals take centre stage as he effortlessly glides through the verses and choruses. “Witness” encapsulates the essence of Sean Tizzle’s nonchalant swagger. He is not in a hurry to highlight his daily indulgence: catching trips from Lagos to Europe, pulling up in a Bugatti, and chilling inside VIP spots at high-end nightclubs. He pointedly reminds us that his success is only a reminder of his sacrifice and perseverance.
On “Divine African Woman,” he charmingly serenades a lady in the most Sean Tizzle way possible: a playful wit and a delightful blend of native Yoruba with Pidgin English lyrics over groovy tunes. His vocals exude warmth and admiration as he pays homage to the beauty and allure of his “Divine African Woman.”
The theme continues in “With You,” where he expresses his desire to spend quality time with, and a willingness to indulge his love interest with material comforts. Sean Tizzle’s delivery is filled with passion and vulnerability, making the track undeniably one of the album’s best offerings.
“Extraordinary” sees Sean Tizzle exposing a part of him ‘Vanessa,’ the object of his affection, hadn’t seen before. The minimalist beats serve as a foundation for Sean Tizzle’s emotions to build on. However, the lead guitar runs add moments of brilliance, reverberating the song’s essence. Sean Tizzle lays bare his undying love for her and declares his unwavering commitment to their relationship. “Extraordinary” is a promise of love and devotion.
As if that wasn’t enough promise being made, “Focus” comes right after, reaffirming his love and urging her to resist her mother’s influence in settling for another man. His intentions are crystal clear — he is unwavering in his commitment and has no intention of going anywhere. Take note, Vanessa!
“Dance” and “Sure for You” underscores Sean Tizzle’s versatility to dive into diverse sonic territories while maintaining his distinctive style. With masterful penmanship and vocal dexterity, he glides through each track like a farmer through his field. On “Dance,” he invites Caroline this time (hmmm) to move her body to his infectious grooves and catchy hooks. “Sure for You” takes a different approach, reminding another love interest of his genuine feelings for her.
Dues swings into an expressive and culturally-infused sonic landscape with “Adofo,” an Afro-Highlife joint. Sean Tizzle’s voice soars with rich tonalities as he sings about being enchanted once again. “Adofo” should be added to your soulful playlists.
In “God’s Gift,” you are instantly treated to a typical Fuji tune that resonates with the atmosphere of a child dedication party hosted in South-West Nigeria. Sean Tizzle’s vocals distill warmth and enthusiasm as he expresses the profound joy that children bring into their parents’ lives. He also acknowledges their potential as future leaders in society, while his voice competes for dominance with the percussion-laden tunes.
Sean Tizzle taps from within on the album’s penultimate track, “Sean Plenty,” – a slow-tempo, R&B song that serves as a poignant moment of closure. Sean Tizzle, once again, delves into his past struggles, reflecting on the journey to his success in the music scene from his humble beginnings in Obalende, Lagos.
The curtain draws to a close on “Paid My Dues,” a nostalgic, synth-fused beat. Sean Tizzle reflects on his journey to fame, reminding listeners that he has paid his dues and endured the challenges and scars along the way. The album’s cover art further emphasises this narrative, revealing three versions of the same artist against the backdrop of a street block. The first version is a nostalgic representation of Sean Tizzle from his debut album days, symbolising his initial rise to fame. The middle figure shows his moments of obscurity within the industry. This version alludes to the artist’s challenges and setbacks, including the non-acceptance he experienced while his peers enjoyed cross-continental appeal. Noticeably, the last figure depicted represents a mature and knowledgeable version of the artist—the version we are introduced to on Dues. This final iteration embodies Sean Tizzle’s growth, both as an artist and as an individual.
Dues is a refreshing take from an artist intentional about his legacy in the Nigerian music industry. The album showcases meticulous production and thoughtful sequencing, with each track finding its rightful place. While there may be moments where certain tracks feel slightly disconnected from the album’s cohesive appeal, Sean Tizzle’s artistry drags you back and soaks you into the album’s immersive experience. It is worth noting that while Dues lingers in the realm between cohesion and exploration, you cannot ignore Sean Tizzle’s dedication to the craft.
Lyricism – 1.4
Tracklisting – 1.5
Sound Engineering – 1.6
Vocalisation – 1.6
Listening Experience – 1.7
Emmanuel 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 Twitter @iamNuelJ.