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“The More The Better” Review: Tekno Takes His Craft a Step Further on Sophomore LP

“The More The Better” Review: Tekno Takes His Craft a Step Further on Sophomore LP

tekno cover the more the better album review afrocritik

The More The Better is a thoroughly enjoyable album that presents an already acclaimed Tekno unveiling new facets of his artistry. With enchanting melodies, impeccable engineering, impressive lyricism, and an overall advancement in craftsmanship, he is firing on all cylinders on this project…

By Yinoluwa Olowofoyeku 

In the vibrant tapestry of contemporary Afrobeats, Augustine Miles Kelechi Okechukwu, better known as Tekno, stands as a luminary figure. Over the past decade, this Nigerian singer, songwriter, and record producer has etched his name into the annals of Afrobeats’ history. With each release, he has not just created music; he has woven an auditory journey through the heart of the genre. His latest offering, The More The Better, solidifies his position as a maestro in the Afrobeats realm.

Tekno’s journey to superstardom has been nothing short of remarkable. His career took flight when he signed with the Made Men Music Group in 2013. By 2014, he was already turning heads, earning a nomination for “Best New Act” at the Nigeria Entertainment Awards, with his early singles “Dance” and “Anything”. From there, he embarked on a series of hits – both as an artiste and as a producer – that left an indelible mark on the Afrobeats scene.

In 2015, “Duro” and “Maria” captivated audiences. The following year, “Pana” and “Rara” became smash hits. By 2016, Billboard recognised him as a talent to watch. It was also the year of Davido’s “If” soared to international heights on the back of Tekno’s production, setting the tone for a new sonic landscape in Afrobeats. 2017 saw the release of “Mama“, further cementing his legacy. However, in 2017, a health condition threatened to silence his vocal cords, but Tekno made a triumphant return, serving hit after hit. 

2018 brought “Jogodo” and a collaboration with American singer, Ciara. In 2019, he inked deals with Universal Music Group Nigeria and the UK-based Island Records. His collaboration with Beyoncé on “Don’t Jealous Me“, production on Swae Lee and Drake’s “Won’t Be Late”, and the DJ Favourite’s single, “Skeletun” underscored his global appeal. 2020 marked the release of his debut album, Old Romance, which garnered mixed yet largely positive reviews.

Fast forward to today, Tekno embarks on his sophomore album, The More The Better, following a slew of singles and a notable feature on one of the buzz songs of 2022, Kizz Daniel’s “Buga.”

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The album opens with “Twice Shy”, a poignant track that samples British singer, Dido’s “Thank You“, famously used in American rapper, Eminem’s “Stan“. Against an emotive Afrobeats backdrop characterised by piano chords, subtle drums, and a resounding 808 bass, Tekno’s lyrical depth shines through. He encourages listeners to not be overly burdened by life’s challenges, offering solace with lines such as, “After you walk and pray, just let your mind dey, put your mind at ease, no dey too stress”. The song is simultaneously reassuring and sombre, hitting hard with affecting vocal deliveries and effective use of group vocals.

The title track, “The More The Better”, follows suit, serving an infectious mid-tempo Afrobeats groove. Clacking percussions, a persistent vocal sample, and rhythmic guitar chords, set the stage for Tekno to affirm his identity — a purveyor of enjoyment, positive vibes, and sweet melodies. He backs up his claims with a bevy of interesting melodies he employs, reaching deep into his melodic repertoire.

“Flashing Lights” is a love-infused offering, where dancehall drums anchor bright keys and deep bass synths. Tekno’s adoration of his love interest is palpable through beautiful melodies, creative lyrics, and angelic harmonies in the background. While the song is simple in structure, it communicates genuine emotion.

“Peppermint”, a previously released single, brings a faster tempo to the album. It is a track that aligns with Tekno’s signature style — catchy, danceable drums, thumping log drums, and summery guitars. Less focused on lyrics, the song embraces infectious sounds that get one’s feet moving. It is a certified party starter.

“King of Pop” stands out as a Makossa-laced Afrobeats gem. With DJ Coublon at the helm, the track brims with energy, courtesy of traditional percussions, swinging drums, and lively rhythm guitars. Tekno effortlessly matches this vigour, delivering playful vocals, backed by bright group harmonies, Fela-esque interjections, and even Francophone phrases. Tekno does it all to make sure the song forces listeners to the dance floor.

In “Peace of Mind”, Tekno shifts gears to reflect on gratitude, personal contentment, and the pursuit of inner peace. Against a backdrop of straightforward Afrobeat drums, rich bass, and strummed guitars, Tekno’s lyrical development shines. He paints vivid pictures and conveys genuine emotions through his songwriting.

“Lokation” offers another midtempo Afrobeats gem, with contributions from Selebobo and DJ Coublon. The instrumental is subtle, with subdued log drums, lively drum patterns, and layered guitar melodies. Tekno’s softer melodies inquire about the whereabouts of someone special, while the strategic use of harmonies keeps the track engaging throughout its duration.

Nigerian singer, songwriter, and producer, Tekno
Nigerian singer, songwriter, and producer, Tekno

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“Pocket” takes the tempo up a notch, with strummed guitars, a bouncy bassline, and uptempo Afrobeats drum patterns. Tekno’s melodic prowess is on full display here, with a catchy chorus and staccato vocal deliveries. The song revolves around comfort and the pleasures that come with financial security. The track takes an unexpected turn towards the end, altering the song’s sonic landscape.

“Permit” begins with group vocals, paving the way for log drums, electric guitars, and straightforward percussion-driven drumlines. Tekno pledges his commitment to his love interest, and while the lyrics are basic, his infectious melodies and the upbeat, energetic beat carry the song.

“Borrow” benefits from Egarboi’s expert production, offering a canvas of lively Afrobeats drums and expressive guitars. It is a similar palette to many of his other productions across the project, but Tekno still manages to keep his deliveries feeling fresh and unique. The standout feature here is the group chant, “borrow borrow”, in the chorus. The varied melodies and textures that Tekno is able to draw on have kept the project from sounding stale.

“Regina” is a slowed-down, emotive journey that aligns with featured artiste, CKay’s style. Triplet Afrobeats drums provide a solid foundation for the instrumentals, characterised by a smooth filtered bassline, synths, and strummed guitar chords. Tekno professes love for a certain Regina, praising her as “original and not substandard”, employing a new rapid-fire cadence that works brilliantly. CKay’s airy vocals and risqué lyrics provide a stellar contrast to Tekno’s more sensual approach.

“Play”, according to quotes Tekno gave Apple Music, serves as the album’s thesis. He is quoted as saying “[It’s about] never losing the child in you”. Against an understated, filtered Afrobeats instrumental with muddled drums, soft keys and synth accents, Tekno’s soft vocals deliver a heartfelt message. Children’s voices in the group vocals accentuate the innocence and sincerity of the song.

The album concludes with “Can’t Chase”, which as Tekno tells Apple Music, is the oldest song on the album. Here, he delves into various relationship dynamics, using smooth singing and versatile melodies over a simple, spacious Afroswing beat produced by Tuzi. Tekno’s storytelling prowess shows forth again as he vividly paints scenarios and communicates his thoughts and experiences through his lyricism. The song culminates in a powerful electric guitar solo, providing a fitting ending to the album.

Tekno's sophomore album review on Afrocritik

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The More The Better is an album that delights from start to finish. Tekno’s expertise in Afrobeats is undeniable, and he has taken it to new heights. He has shown over the years that he has an innate understanding of how to make catchy lighthearted songs worth listening and dancing to. While Tekno’s career may not have been as prolific as some of his peers, he has consistently emphasised quality over quantity. This album takes all that he is known for and pushes them a step further. It is a testament to his mastery of the Afrobeats landscape.

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Despite being a purely Afrobeats album with only one feature, Tekno keeps the experience fresh and engaging. He seamlessly navigates the various facets of Afrobeats, from slower, midtempo R&B-aligned love songs, to faster, playful club anthems. Beyond the inclusion of some log drums, he does not seem swayed by the recent infiltration of Amapiano elements into Afrobeats. He sticks to what he knows best and goes one step further to display his mastery of it.

The production he chooses, and sometimes contributes to, is varied enough to give each track a different feel and flavour, while staying consistent enough to tie the album together into a cohesive sonic unit. Rhythm guitars, piano chords and staple Afrobeats drums are the order of the day, but the way they are used across the project makes the end result greater than the sum of their parts.

Where Tekno truly shines, however, is with his vocal melodies. He is a master of the melodic arts, consistently finding the most satisfying notes and pockets in the beats for his voice. Whether it is the smooth cadence of his love songs or the exuberant ululations in his party tracks, Tekno infuses a signature melodic moment in each song that lingers in listeners’ ears and hearts. His technical singing is not flawless, but that has never quite been what Tekno is known for. His vocals are engineer-assisted and while it is obvious in a few places, the overall audio engineering is of the highest standard. This is particularly evident when he is joined by backing vocalists who add texture, warmth, and life to the tracks.

Perhaps the most surprising revelation on this album is Tekno’s songwriting. While he has penned songs for other established artistes, he has not demonstrated significant lyrical depth in recent times. But The More The Better showcases a substantial development in this aspect. Some tracks, especially those with slower, emotive moments, are written with lyrics that immerse us in Tekno’s perspective and narratives. Combined with his adept melody-weaving and enjoyable production, these songs captivate listeners from start to finish.

The More The Better is a thoroughly enjoyable album that presents an already acclaimed Tekno unveiling new facets of his artistry. With enchanting melodies, impeccable engineering, impressive lyricism, and an overall advancement in craftsmanship, he is firing on all cylinders on this project. As I continue to replay this project with barely a skip, my anticipation is now heightened for what we should expect next from “Alhaji Tekno.” 

Lyricism – 1.3

Tracklisting – 1.4

Sound Engineering – 1.5

Vocalisation – 1.6

Listening Experience – 1.5

Rating – 7.3/10

Yinoluwa “Yinoluu” Olowofoyeku is a multi-disciplinary artist and creative who finds expression in various media. His music can be found across all platforms and he welcomes interaction on his social media @Yinoluu.

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