Expansive, pristine, brilliantly put together, West African Goat finds PayBac Iboro at his best state of mind. From the rousing title, to the designs of the artwork and also the features, you see quite clearly that Iboro took his time in crafting this album…
By Emmanuel Daraloye
Four years ago, in an exclusive interview with Guardian lifestyle, PayBac Iboro admitted his surprise over his nomination in the category of Lyricist on the Roll, one of the most revered Hip-Hop category at the Headies Award. According to the rapper, “I didn’t think I was at that level yet but I guess when it’s time, it’s time. I’m very grateful for being honoured like that.”
The days of being shocked at what is rightly deserving seem to be over for the rapper who has just released his latest album, aptly tagged West African Goat. The title is a pointer to where and how Iboro sees himself. Luckily for him, since he released this album, the fans, especially on Twitter, tagged along.
Iboro has had many experiences. He has paid his dues, even if the spotlight on him might be incomparable to that on other rappers. Still, he keeps on releasing albums upon album, in a way, raising the consciousness of the people, elevating his art, and showing both fans and foes why he deserves his new moniker, West African Goat. This new album is a follow up to his 2022 collaborative project with Pizzo Da L.P, Album of the Year, and his groundbreaking 2020 CULT! album.
In only thirteen tracks, Iboro features a retinue of industry heavyweights. The topics are well put together. West African Goat is chaperoned by a narrator who appears at the beginning or end of the tracks. This narrator gives the album a distinct, cinematic feeling.
“Goat Chop Lion” is a tightly-packed introduction to the album. The album title might have taken its name from this song. PayBac Iboro celebrates his recent Headies nomination. In typical rapper fashion, he calls himself the “Hip-Hop saviour.” You wouldn’t expect less self aggrandizement from the man who calls himself a West African Goat. At the end of the second verse, Iboro gives a shout out to one of the raves of the moment, Odumodublvck: “shout out, Odumodublvck. When I am in Abuja, we would link up and smoke up.”
The lush drum rolls of “Talented” are hard to ignore. The comical nature of the song brings a hilarious twist to this album. Barzini might just have delivered one of the best hooks in recent-time Nigerian Hip-Hop. Iboro comes on superbly on this track. The verse is not necessarily a hard one; nonetheless, it has a well-arranged verse. “Talented” is one of the standout tracks from this album.
“Sacrifice” speaks from the heart. PayBac Iboro raps about his state of mind, and the situation Nigeria is in. It’s an emotionally-charged track which finds Iboro vulnerable.
Nigeria’s spate of corruption becomes the muse for PayBac Iboro on “Land of the Tiff.” The bouncy track serves as a harbinger of hope to the depressed citizens. Viveeyan, the featured artiste, soothes ears with her angelic voice.
“Monkey See Monkey Do” stands as a lofty fragment of Iboro’s dexterity with sound. It’s another comic relief in this album. What Iboro raps about are real life issues in Nigeria, but in a laughable, negligible manner. You tend to not overly ruminate about it.
“The Story of Hushpuppi,” a pre-released single, is a detailed biography about the infamous Internet fraudster, Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, better known as Hushpuppi. Iboro succinctly raps about Hushpuppi’s hustle story: the tribulation, triumph and more. This is storytelling at its peak.
The malleable state of Iboro’s vocals comes off well on “Look Me Less,” a detailed recollection between a thief and his victim. It’s funny, yet, the message behind the song is too glaring to ignore.
“Brother Bartho” is an epistle to lazy people. PayBac Iboro makes the track relatable with the way he sequentially arranges his stories.
“Ekeres Song” is a tribute to one of Iboro’s loved ones who died over eleven years ago. In the five minutes, forty-two-second song, Iboro tells the departed Ekere the milestones each member of the family had attained: his mother, brother, and sister. While at this, there is a voice note from one of his sisters. She bemoans Ekere’s demise.
“Danfo to Headies” eases in with dreamy vocals and shimmering percussion. On this song, Iboro sings about a trip to the Headies award. He lets us into the tribulations and trials he has been through since he began his music career.
“Bury Me for Gold” is a hazy, almost anthemic tune that will go down well in the Trap music circle. The vocals are ethereal and light, an effect which creates a striking juxtaposition against the swirling dark synths and fuzzy, distorted drums.
There is a sinister and dangerous tone to “Oloun,” which is thematically charged towards life’s desires. Payper Corleone’s delivery is a testament to his pristine skills. Both artists smartly flow on a Trap production to score a potential hit.
West African Goat ends with the piano-pivoted “Spirit.” It’s a prophetic message from PayBac Iboro and Pizzo Da LP. They predict what the future looks like for them, and like they sing, “You go feel am.” The sinister production of this song makes the verses come off so well.
Expansive, pristine, brilliantly put together, West African Goat finds PayBac Iboro at his best state of mind. From the rousing title, to the designs of the artwork and also the features, you see quite clearly that Iboro took his time in crafting this album.
West African Goat explores far-reaching topics about life, love, loss, success, depression and more. In hindsight, PayBac Iboro creates an album that caters for everyone. Here, people would always find a pocket of what they fancy.
Iboro’s months of hiatus from releasing music pays off. And when next he calls himself the West African Goat, rest assured that he worked for it. He deserves all the praise, accolades and plaques. West African Goat may just be a potential Hip-Hop album of the year 2023.
Lyricism – 2
Tracklisting – 1
Sound Engineering – 1
Vocalisation – 2
Listening Experience – 2
Emmanuel Daraloye is Africa’s Most Prolific Freelance Music Critic. He has over 500 album reviews in his archive.