An album of this magnitude is worth the six-year wait. Ajebutter22 knows how to craft an album. On each release, he gets better…
By Emmanuel Daraloye
It has been six years since Akitoye Balogun, more popularly called Ajebutter22, last released an album. His 2014 debut, Anytime Soon, was a prophetic proclamation of his sonic future. His sophomore album, What Happens in Lagos, served as a precise tribute to Lagos State, one of Africa’s fastest growing economies. He is now back to chaperone the people to a feel-good zone with his new long play album, Soundtrack to the Good Life.
Ajebutter22 was born in Lagos. He had his secondary education at International School Lagos, and proceeded to England to study Petroleum Engineering in Leeds University, after which he went to Manchester for a Masters degree in Engineering Project Management. He first appeared in the music scene in 2009 alongside his sister, Taymi (aka Social Ajebutterfly) in the eclectic hip-hop, electro-funk, and soul duo, “Soyinka’s Afro.” The group was founded while they were in Manchester, United Kingdom, its name a homage to Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka. By 2010, Ajebutter22 switched to being a solo artiste. He churned out a few singles, and later, his debut collaborative album in 2014 alongside Studio Magic.
The slang, “Ajebutter” as used by many in Nigeria refers to a person born with a silver spoon in their mouth, or one who is spoiled and has not experienced the harshness of life. Simply put, they are the one percent of the population, the privileged ones. So, when someone like Ajebutter22 sings, it is expected that their reality might be quite different from someone who grew up in the Ajegunle or Bariga areas of Lagos. The selected topics in Soundtrack to the Good Life are distinct, with a focus on the good life and hedonism.
On Soundtrack to the Good Life, Ajebutter22 sticks to his wry, waggish lines, laconic delivery over a mild tempo, and low-level BMP. This is masterfully done in a way to show his legendary status, his experience of more than a decade.
I listened to this album for over three weeks. The messages stuck, and in a way, I understood Ajebutter22 more, noticed his lapses, as well as his improvement since What Happens in Lagos.
The first voice you hear on the Soundtrack to the Good Life album isn’t Ajebutter22, but that of Korome, a spoken word poet. Her poetry interspersed tracks off What Happens in Lagos. On this album, she has a full track to herself; her performance stretches to one minute, fifty-two seconds. “Soft Life Manifestation” welcomes the listeners to the sultry experience; it serves as a crash course on what to happen on the album. Aided by spring piano picks, Korome’s vocals beautifully glide on.
The first collaboration comes too early. “Soft Life” had input from Mavin Records-signed rapper, Ladipoe, whose calculated and structured cadence elevated the track. The song preaches about enjoying the best of life in the face of impediments.
The two “ajebos,” Ajebo Hustler, and Ajebutter22 collide on “Enjoyment.” One is from Port-Harcourt, and the other from the high upstates of Lagos. The message aligns, the flow is impeccable, the lyrics exhibit some level of resonance. It’s a continuation of what has been preached since the album began.
“African Man” takes copious inspiration from “Ronaldo,” off Make E No Cause Fight 2. It’s a bopping tune that is highlighted by a gong and kicks. The skittering super sonic “Floating” finds Ajebutter22 at his truest sonic origin. A line like “Alte Hall of Fame is where I belong” shows an artiste who knows what he deserves in the music industry.
Soundtrack to the Good Life was created within six years between Lagos, Ghana and the United Kingdom. The features are not sparse, and neither are they excessive.
The sultry vocals of Jeff Akoh, the former MTN Project Fame winner, resonates on “Fire.” The song sees Ajebutter22 trying his hand on an R&B and Ghana Highlife tune. The R&B vibes seem to shine more on this song; yet, you can but notice the Highlife influences. This track might just have been recorded in Ghana.
“Sunmoju” finds Ajebutter22 lightly opening up his heart, being vulnerable. Gyptian’s 2010 classic, “Hold You,” got sampled towards the end of the song.
On “Light Spark,” Ajebutter22 details why he left a girl. He lets us into his world. Produced by Spax, the Oxlade-assisted “Unconditionally” finds Ajebutter22 and Oxlade expressing their feelings to their muses. Oxlade’s hook is emphatic, punchy and crafty. Ajebutter22 leveled up with his lyrics, which further added spice to Oxlade’s hook. It’s a bouncy, guitar-enhanced tune.
The waggish, bopping “Finish Me” sounds like an album filler. It is too ordinary to catch the listeners’ attention. Still, the Daddy Showkey’s sample is impressive. Kida Kudz brings the UK energy on the Trap-spiced track, “Confam.”
“Dey Ok” serves as a tribute to friendship. Joey B and KiDi, two of Ghana’s finest artistes, come through on this track. The latter took the shine off Ajebutter22 on this song. He seemed to understand the song more. “King of Parole,” one of the lead singles to this album makes an appearance as the 13th track. It’s an Amapiano-tinged track.
Hypeman, Toby Shang, serves as a superb collaborator on “Amapiano X Shisha.” Shang takes the song to a new level with his energy-fuelled hyping. The last track, “Hear My Sound,” sounds like a Gospel song. Here, Ajebutter22 takes everything to God, and asks for God’s Guidance as he navigates life. It’s a prayer-filled song, quite relatable to religious people.
Inadvertently, Ajebutter22 might have just created a concept album with Soundtrack to the Good Life. At the end of the forty seven, seventeen second spin, you notice that he stuck to the title; most of the tracks give off a good-time feeling. An album of this magnitude is worth the six-year wait. Ajebutter22 knows how to craft an album. On each release, he gets better. Soundtrack to the Good Life is an impressive, calculated effort. In a way, it cements Ajebutter22’s legacy as an artiste.
Lyricism – 1
Tracklisting – 1
Sound Engineering – 1
Vocalisation – 2
Listening Experience – 1
Emmanuel Daraloye is Africa’s Most Prolific Freelance Music Critic. He has over 500 album reviews in his archive.