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“OG Unkle Killz” Review: Ikechukwu’s Latest Project is a Reverent Tribute to His Peak

“OG Unkle Killz” Review: Ikechukwu’s Latest Project is a Reverent Tribute to His Peak

Ikechukwu- OG Unkle Killz- Afrocritik

OG Unkle Killz is a commendable offering from Ikechukwu, showcasing his ability to roll back his heydays while taking risks and experimenting with different sounds.

By Emmanuel Okoro

Ikechukwu Onunaku, popularly known by his sobriquet, Ikechukwu or Killz, is a polymath in the Nigerian entertainment industry. While he has gained recognition for his acting roles in notable flicks, such as 2015’s Gbomo Gbomo Express, 2016’s The Wedding Party, and 2019’s Òlòtūré, his roots lie deeply in the world of rap and lyricism. With the release of his latest project, OG Unkle Killz – an EP of seven tracks with seven bonus tracks, thus questioning why it was called an EP in the first place – Ikechukwu steps into the spotlight of Nigerian Hip-Hop again, reminding fans of his undeniable talent and influence.

Having burst onto the scene with his debut album, Son of the Soil, in 2006, the rapper quickly made a name for himself with hits like “My Name Is”. Throughout the mid-2000s to the early 2010s, he garnered numerous awards and accolades, cementing his status as one of Nigeria’s finest lyricists. Ikechukwu marks a triumphant comeback to the genre that propelled him to stardom, and throughout the project clocking in at a crisp 45 minutes, he revisits his heydays, attempting razor-sharp lyricism that stands out in today’s Nigerian Hip-Hop landscape.

OG Unkle Killz opens with “Phenomenal”, a bouncy bassline that gives way to pulsating drums, setting the stage for his laid-back flow. Here, he boasts of his opulent lifestyle filled with affluence and indulgences with lines like “Last time, I fed the fam until the food was finished/ Now my family feeding up off the food business.” R&B singer, Praiz, adds a touch of soulful elegance with the chorus, creating a dynamic duo that sets the tone for the project.

On “Investor”, he collaborates with fellow Igbo Hip-Hop powerhouse, Illbliss, creating a track driven by bumpy drums and kicks. Together, they celebrate the wealth they’ve accumulated over the years through their investments. However, the song transcends mere braggadocio, serving as an ode to the industrious men from Nigeria’s Eastern region, renowned for their dedication to building wealth through business ventures. While Illbliss doesn’t deliver any rap verses, his presence is felt through his commanding delivery of the chorus, as he name-drops influential figures known for their business acumen.

The project throws a lot of curve balls, one of which is “White Givenchys”, a record whose beat bears semblance to Drake’s 2009 track, “Successful”. Over the slow-tempo track with melancholic chords, Ikechukwu delves into the complexities of his life marked by success, fame, and the inevitable betrayals experienced by friends and family along the way. His flows mirror the production, characterised by a slow, numbing, and airy cadence. Lines like “What would I change if I did it twice?/ Probably lose the chain and live a simple life/ Through all the pain, how did we get it right?/ Fortune and fame, if you survive the fight”, reflect his sombre reflection on his journey. 

OG Unkle Killz tracklist - Afrocritik
OG Unkle Killz tracklist

Another standout moment on OG Unkle Killz is the Jesse Jagz-assisted “The Emperor’s Killz” which sees both rappers engage in a feast of words, as though attempting to outdo each other in a friendly competition of wordplay and flow. Their chemistry on the track is undeniable, creating an instant earworm that kept me hooked from start to finish. In “Touch Your Head”, Ikechukwu delivers a vibrant fusion of Dancehall and Ragga, creating a tailor-made track for the dancefloors. Teaming up with Jesse Jagz and Skales, they inject dynamism into their performances; each holding their weight on the track dedicated to their love interests, encouraging them to move to the beat.

Another undeniable gem on the project is “Breeze”, a Reggae bop, that sees Killz playfully describing a typical day in his life, including a late-night encounter with a lady and the smooth ease of his mornings. With a cadence reminiscent of ‘90s Jamaican rap, the rapper delivers a dose of nostalgia into the project. The track takes on new dimensions with the mashup remix and refix versions, featuring Skales, Falz, and Vector. Each artiste adds their flair to the song, coasting over the beat with ease and serving up verses that complement Ikechukwu’s playful energy. In “4 U”, Killz adopts a cheerful swagger as he serenades a love interest with a charming delivery over a mid-tempo tune. The song exudes a feel-good vibe as he expresses his devotion, promising to do anything for the object of his affection.

What’s a Hip-Hop project without a dose of braggadocio? This seems to be the case on “Timing”, featuring the duo of Jesse Jagz and Ice Prince. The song sees the trio confidently staking their claim to Nigerian rap royalty, boasting about their indulgences and wealth. But despite its impressive lineup, the track falls short of delivering the depth expected from such a collaboration. Killz appears to be running out of creative juice, as “Have Mercy” saunters in. The track is mostly bare and unattended, and if the intention was to include a filler track in the project, it couldn’t have been any less glaring. “Brimstone” and “Fast Cars” both exhibit similar sentiments, falling short of expectations compared to the rest of the project. These tracks, characterised by uninspired production and lacklustre lyricism, fail to leave an impression, save for Vector’s verse on the latter forgettable track. While moments like this are expected, these tracks could’ve been interspersed between better offerings rather than following a linear sonic progression.

Ikechukwu- OG Unkle Killz- Afrocritik

OG Unkle Killz ends with the Baby Fresh-produced “Welcome to the Jungle”. On the rich and layered beat, Ikechukwu reflects on the metaphorical jungle of life, discussing the challenges he has faced and how he has scaled through them. While it may not be the strongest track on the project, it still serves its purpose in bringing the project to a satisfying conclusion.

OG Unkle Killz is a commendable offering from Ikechukwu, showcasing his ability to roll back his heydays while taking risks and experimenting with different sounds. The EP, or album in this case, succeeds in cementing his status as a Nigerian rap luminary, thanks to tracks that feature exquisite production and collaborations with some of the finest acts dating back to the late 2000s. However, the project falters in its sequencing, particularly in the latter one-third where tracks seem to stumble and lack the same energy and impact as the earlier ones.

Ikechukwu- OG Unkle Killz- Afrocritik

Despite these shortcomings, the project serves as a great reminder of Killz’s grit, belief, and undeniable talent. It’s a testament to his enduring presence in the Nigerian music scene and a nostalgic journey for fans who remember his reign on the airwaves.

See Also

Lyricism – 1.4

Tracklisting – 1.3

Sound Engineering – 1.4

Vocalisation – 1.3

Listening Experience – 1.3

Rating – 6.7/10

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 X, Instagram, and Threads: @BughiLorde.

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