Who The F**K Is CKAY From Chocolate City

When one of the country’s top pop culture critics calls you out in such an unabashed manner, it must cause one to chafe a little; Osagie Alonge aka “Osagz” posed ‘the question’ to Chocolate City head honcho, Jude Abaga, AKA M.I. on the nation’s top podcast last week.  CKay Yo, the 19 year old from Croc City, found his viability as an artist front and centre of social media discussion for a couple of days. He’s not as wet behind the ear as the question suggests having already had production credits on Chocolate City’s posse album and writing the chorus on one of its standout joints, 3rdMainland Bridge.

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Who The F**k Is CKay is the answer. The mixtape is 6 cuts deeps, which he sings almost exclusively in pidgin with a smattering of Igbo and the obligatory Yoruba word interspersed between typical Nigerian pop lyrics. One might have feared that having felt the extraordinary pressure Alonge’s question placed on him, propelled by a bruised ego, he’d rush out a subpar project. On the contrary, this self-written, composed and largely self-produced (Tempoe co-produced two joints) tape serves as a worthy introduction. He probably wanted the release differently, on his own schedule but the iron was hot and deserved to be struck. A minor downside,Who The…. has no umbrella theme, the tape itself doesn’t answer ‘the question’ literally. It is more of a chest thumping ‘how dare you doubt me’ exercise but given the circumstances of its release, that can be forgiven.

For a rushed to release project, it holds its own. Some of the tape’s highlights are I’m Single (Alleluya) – A dope, up-tempo number. Its call and response chorus make it social media compliant, club and radio ready. Then there’s African Woman. This joint is a delight, production wise especially – leaning on a mid-tempo dancehall bass with a sampling of Fela’s ‘Lady’ which he makes work beautifully.

‘The question’ as opposed to being seen as an insult should instead be viewed as a challenge. Does CKay do enough on this mixtape to shut mouths? As a producer, the tape gives an insight into just how talented he is – the last 3/4 songs, particularly African Woman, belie his age. He’s 19 years old, in the middle of a shift happening in Nigerian music but he can’t avoid the age old quandary of trying to do what radio wants hence the misstep that is Winner. He should leave this sound alone, it’s passé and detracts from his obvious talent.

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He features a bonafide member of the new wave, Bella Alubo, on Chinekeme co-produced by Tempoe. If the confidence he delivers his lyrics with comes through visually, this might be a winner but one suspects he’s only testing the waters. He’s got the requisite skills to make it all work should he want to give the wave a proper try. He looks good, is quad lingual and young enough that he can avoid boxing himself in.

He’s shown a hint of what he’s capable of and it behoves him to avoid predictability – the field is too packed to sound just like everyone else and it is not quite obvious if he’s a ‘good vocalist’ – He’s clearly adequate and none of the songs on the tape require more than which he delivered but it’d be interesting to see him leave his vocal comfort zone sometime in the future.

Interest in his craft is at an all-time high right now and it is ultimately up to him to ensure “the question” is never asked again. This tape is a good starting point.