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“What Would You Do Without Me” Review: Cheque’s EP Adds a Consequential Layer to His Artistry Mosaic

“What Would You Do Without Me” Review: Cheque’s EP Adds a Consequential Layer to His Artistry Mosaic

“What Would You Do Without Me” Review| Afrocritik

What Would You Do Without Me aptly captures Cheque’s range and picturesque songwriting skills that connect easily to the heart… With a concise five tracks on the project, he’s proven his commitment to growing upwards, adding a consequential layer to his career’s grand mosaic. 

By Abioye Damilare Samson

When critics and music enthusiasts reflect on the Nigerian music scene in 2020 — the year the world adjusted to the stay-at-home regimen of the COVID-19 pandemic — they will highlight the birth and the stratospheric rise of new generation artistes. Most importantly, they will focus on the floodgates of high-quality music projects unlocked that year. Amid the supersaturation of music during that period, Akanbi Bamidele Brett, known by his stage name Cheque, crystallised his breakthrough with the hit song, “Zoom”, off his five-track debut EP, Razor. This track, further amplified by a remix featuring Nigerian-American rap artiste, Wale, and Afrobeats superstar, Davido, propelled him to the forefront of a new cohort of young artistes poised to electrify the Afro-pop circuit.

Four years on, Cheque continues to fuse Trap beats with evocative local melodies, a hallmark of his sound evident in earlier projects like his 2021 Bravo and Chequemate released in 2023, as he ventures into his latest EP, What Would You Do Without Me.  The five-track project boasts of his formulaic cadence, sing-rap flow, production from young innovative producers — Fizzybeat, Sess, and Andry —  and solid features with Bella Shmurda, and his label boss, Phyno. While Cheque remains loyal to his signature sound on What Would You Do Without Me, delivering dreamy Emo-leaning Trap flow, he also explores other soundscapes, borrowing inspiration from Afro-pop and Amapiano to arrive at a cocktail of different sounds for the listener’s premium pleasure.

The opening track, “Ski”, featuring Bella Shmurda, is a Trap-based Emo record that finds Cheque welcoming us into his new reality. Helmed by the stellar production from Andry and IMC, Cheque reflects on how his wealth seems to be the only thing attracting the attention of women. “Most girls that I know, only love me for the dough, when the money running low, they no go dey around”, he sings painstakingly over the song’s second verse, setting the scene for his fluid pen game. Bella Shmurda’s verse is the highlight of the song. He conveys a sense of acceptance towards the unpredictable nature of fate with the popular mantra,  “What will be will be”, reflected in his words, “What’s gon be, go be, so let it be”, while maintaining his unfaltering focus on his grind. 

On the Fizzybeat-produced track, “Paradise”, Cheque drops the Trap flow for the mellow Afrobeats rhythm peppered with shakers, drums, and guitar strums, which line the entire song with softness. The crisp guitar tone lingers below the surface of Cheque’s vocal, crooning his desire to provide love to his muse, while simultaneously expressing his priority as he sings, “Many many things wey dey my mind, but na money I dey find”, on the chorus. 

Of all the songs on What Would You Do Without Me, “Savage” captures the singer in his most tranquil demeanour, conveyed through his relaxing vocals. Atop a mid-tempo Afro-pop beat, he sings about his lifestyle and exploits while also taking the opportunity to toot his horns.

“What Would You Do Without Me” Review: Cheque’s EP Adds a Consequential Layer to His Artistry Mosaic | Afrocritik
What Would You Do Without Me tracklist

Cheque teams up with Phyno on the Asake-esque swaggering technique rhythm and jaunty Hip-Hop-adjacent beat on “Glory Days.” The song’s theme is both celebratory and reflective. He utilises the jumpy Amapiano log drum for a jarring delivery where his incandescent chorus and Phyno’s rap coalesce for one purpose: to bid farewell to his lonely days and embrace his glory days.

He draws the curtain with “Sorry, I Missed Your Call”, undeniably the song with the most emotive and vulnerable lyrics on the EP. Cheque descends from the high horse he rode on the previous track, and he lets listeners into a reality that they can relate to — the struggle and strength that mirrors his darkest moments and offers encouragement to anyone facing their battles but still keeps pushing forward.

“What Would You Do Without Me” Review: Cheque’s EP Adds a Consequential Layer to His Artistry Mosaic | Afrocritik
Cheque

What Would You Do Without Me aptly captures Cheque’s range and picturesque songwriting skills that connect easily to the heart. Whether reflecting on life’s unending battles, expressing his desire to spread love, or celebrating his glory day, the flow and energy are unending as he smoothly glides through the sounds. With a concise five tracks on the project, he’s proven his commitment to growing upwards, adding a consequential layer to his career’s grand mosaic. He blends different colourful elements to create a genre-mashing project that establishes him as an artiste who cannot be boxed into one genre. What Would You Do Without Me attests to his music ability and it confirms his position as a force that cannot be shrugged off in the Afropop scene.

Lyricism – 2.0

Tracklisting – 1.0

See Also

Sound Engineering –1.0

Vocalisation – 1.0

Listening Experience – 1.5

Rating – 6.5/10 

Abioye Damilare is a music journalist and culture writer focused on the African entertainment Industry. Reading new publications and listening to music are two of his favourite pastimes when he is not writing. Connect with him on Twitter and IG: @Dreyschronicle.

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