Eziokwu offers a delightful and seamless fusion of enjoyable melodies that fit into Odumodublvck’s dynamic persona. Each track on the mixtape builds on the energy of the previous one, creating anticipation for what comes next.
By Emmanuel Okoro
Every superhero needs a theme song. And with the larger-than-life personality, Tochukwu Gbubemi Ojogwu, popularly known as Odumodublvck, his panegyrics are about enough to excite or annoy, depending on where you stand. His unapologetic, tyrannical, chest-beating battle cries, “Black sheep for life, black sheep forever. Izgaaju till we kpeme. Antiworld gangsters. GE records, you get me? Odumodublvck!” on every intro of his songs, informs the audience of his battle-hardened spirit and readiness for action. It is within these boasts that Eziokwu, his latest project, which he labels as a mixtape, leans on.
As the Nigerian music industry saw the gradual trajectory of the ‘Afrobeats to the world’ movement, the potential decline of its Hip-Hop genre was also televised. This sentiment was underscored by the 2017 hit single, “You Rappers Should Fix Up Your Lives” by Hip-Hop luminary, M.I Abaga, who called for a revival of the genre. While a crop of rappers has sparsely managed to breach mainstream success since then, Hip-Hop in Nigeria needed a warrior to raise its banner, and that warrior has emerged in the form of Odumodublvck.
Since signing a record deal with Native Records in 2022, Odumodublvck released “Picanto”, which introduced audiences to his edgy lyricism and unconventional melodies set against gritty beats. This song was the catalyst that catapulted him into mainstream radar. However, it was “Declan Rice”, released earlier this year, that truly certified him as a hit-maker. The track’s infectious energy and novelty resonated with Nigeria’s young adult demographic, solidifying his place as a rising star in the music industry.
It came as no surprise when he took home the “Best Rap Single” and “Rookie of the Year” awards at the 16th Headies Awards. But Odumodublvck’s journey has not been marked by solo success alone, as he has been a go-to collaborator for artistes seeking to inject some form of dynamism into their tracks. This is particularly evident in a line-up of songs released this year, such as Zlatan’s “Oganigwe”, Flavour and Falz’s “Ndi Ike”, Adekunle Gold’s “Wrong Person”, Unknown T’s “Welcome 2 My Strip”, and Not3s’ “High Fashion”. This remarkable success serves as the foundation for Eziokwu (which translates to truth), a project that stands as a manifesto for Odumodublvck’s villainous persona.
On its opener, “Commend”, Odumodublvck explores the realm of sexual encounters with a lover who admires his prowess. His lyrics are unbridled and raw, leaving little to the imagination. “Fall into her kpekus like a beast (Hey)/ Na me be the captain of her ship (Sail)”. However, knowing how tricky the subject is, he acknowledges the need for mutual understanding on the pre-chorus: “I go pin am to the wall, if she permit me (consent, abeg)”. This is also poignant in “Firegun”, where he croons about a lover who grants him consent to invade her intimate parts.
On the hit single “Declan Rice”, Odumodublvck reinforces his reputation for going against conventions and challenging the status quo. He draws parallels between his ability to defend his friends – whom he explicitly name-drops – with the on-pitch abilities of the defensive midfielder and England international footballer, Declan Rice. Like the footballer, Odumodublvck cautions adversaries, that he will “push them to the curb/ Smack them, push them to the corner”, as Rice would do to opposing football players.
On the Trill XOE and JohnWav-produced “Kubolor”, with the assistance of the talented Amaarae, Odumodublvck offers gritty-laden lyricism, likening his intimate experiences to the narrative painted in the Ghanaian-Romanian musician Wanlov the Kubolor’s 2017 single, “My Toto”, coupled with his vivid accompanied music visuals. The lines “They go like call me Kubolor/ I no wan form civilised” reflect an audacious attitude towards sexual expression. Amaraae’s inclusion in the track adds a dynamic layer to the mix. Her distinctive vocals complement Odumodublvck’s lyricism, creating a captivating whole.
“Adamma Beke” sees Odumodublvck taking a playful and seductive tone as he serenades a lover. The track is characterised by electro-guitar strings, soft chords, and heavy drums. Lewd lyrics like “This your yansh, oh/ My hand e don dey tremor like Jagaban, oh” add a clever, humorous undertone when one considers who this Jagaban references.
“Tesla Boy”, featuring Blaqbonez, provides a reprieve with its backdrop of mild synths, shakers, and riotous basslines. Here, Odumodublvck unapologetically celebrates his mainstream success, flaunting his wealth with lines like “New naira note, hundred dollar bills/ POS abi? We go fall out with rack”.
The polarising track, “MC Oluomo”, while depicting lyrics about resilience, has sparked intense debates over its underlying intentions. Despite Odumodublvck’s repeated clarifications that the song is not intended as praise or endorsement of the Nigerian political figure MC Oluomo – who has faced allegations of voter intimidation and suppression during the 2023 general elections – the track continues to leave a sour taste. He further doubled down on his stance during the Eziokwu listening party, where he challenged audiences to unearth the ‘MC Oluomo’ within themselves, adding more fuel to the fire and sending a clear message that his steadfast reluctance to consider audience feedback may indeed be his Achilles heel as an artiste.
The second half of the mixtape begins with the Afrobeats-laden track “Blood on the Dance Floor” featuring homebred talent, Bloody Civilian, and internationally-based rapper, Wale. This track, which leaves heads wagging and bodies bopping, paints a vivid and dark picture of a violent shootout between two rival gangs. Odumodublvck boasts about his victory in this intense skirmish with lines like “Put ’em in a Crosstour/ Kolobi their own blood/ Did it on their own turf”, showcasing his doggedness in the face of danger. Bloody Civilian vocals and Wale’s verse add depth to the lyrical narrative, making it a worthwhile listen.
On the IceBeatzz-produced, drill-powered “Saint Obi”, Odumodublvck and fellow label-signee, Reeplay, deliver an anthem that is a nod to one of Nigeria’s finest actors of the late 90s and early 2000s, Saint Obi, who is remembered with reverence, earning the moniker ‘Nigerian James Bond.’ Their lyrical narratives liken their readiness for action to Obi’s iconic action sequences in Nigerian classics such as Narrow Escape (1999) and State of Emergency (2004).
It is quite fitting that the mixtape wraps up with “Picanto” featuring Zlatan and ECko Miles, as it was the single that introduced him to the industry spotlight and set him up as a mainstream saviour of the dwindling Hip-Hop scene in Nigeria.
Eziokwu offers a delightful and seamless fusion of enjoyable melodies that fit into Odumodublvck’s dynamic persona. Each track on the mixtape builds on the energy of the previous one, creating anticipation for what comes next. This deliberate sequencing enhances its overall listening experience, providing listeners with a fresh and commercial perspective on Nigeria’s Hip-Hop scene.
The production throughout the mixtape adheres to Odumodublvck’s creative direction, showing his ability to maintain control even when exploring unfamiliar sonic landscapes, creating a cohesive body of work as a result.
However, when subjected to closer scrutiny, Eziokwu stumbles in its overarching lyricism. In Hip-Hop, lyricism holds a central position, and when a project is intentionally labelled as a mixtape (without clear indicators to that effect), one would naturally expect a collection of tracks laden with profound and hard-hitting verses, especially given Odumodublvck’s choice of expression in Nigerian Pidgin.
Under these careful lenses, Eziokwu simply comes across as, for lack of better words, a platform for a lyrical ‘phallus-measuring contest.’ While his lyrics are steeped in defiance, overconfidence in his sexual prowess, and a penchant for collective chaos – playing into his strengths – they laboriously persist throughout the project, often overlapping themselves, sounding repetitive and lacking the depth one might anticipate from an artiste of his calibre.
These loosely woven narratives are redeemed by Odumodublvck’s melodies and the quality of featured acts like Wale, Bloody Civilian, Amaarae, Reeplay, Psycho YP, Blaqbonez, and Fireboy DML, who introduce complexity and divert attention away from the lyrical monotony in Eziokwu. While this project may rack up streaming numbers due to its appealing sounds and novelty from hits like “Declan Rice”, “Dog Eat Dog II”, “Blood on the Dance Floor”, and “Picanto”, from a Hip-Hop perspective, it falls short of its expected standard.
“I am deeply sorry but no one is ready for the truth”, Odumodublvck tweeted in all caps on the day of Eziokwu’s initial scheduled release, shifting the release date and leaving his followers disappointed. In retrospect (and considering the state of Hip-Hop in Nigeria), perhaps the truth is this: half-bread is better than none.
Lyricism – 1
Tracklisting – 1.5
Sound Engineering – 1.5
Vocalisation – 1.5
Listening Experience – 1.5
Rating – 7/10
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 Twitter, Instagram, and Threads: @BughiLorde