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“Shakespopi” review: Is the Benin “sonic disruptor” pushing his luck?

A blatant woe unto anyone who nurtured exceedingly high expectations of Shallipopi’s sophomore full-length iteration- “ Shakespopi”. The album’s title is an iteration borne from an unlikely collage; of a 16th-century British playwright, and a 21st-century Nigerian parody rapper.

Usually, when Shallipopi scantily “raps”, or appears on media rounds, bonafide musical audiences should/would/could denote a young Nigerian who often struggles to comprehend his stroke of luck.

This is probably because he is just as bemused at his fortune as much as his most sacrilegious critics are.

One can argue that Shallipopi is providence’s beneficiary as he somewhat wanes in conventional musical skill and talent. Luckily, what the 24-year-old lacks above, he somewhat compensates in unbridled charisma.

The boy oozes ‘steeze’ and no one in their right senses can counter this.

Shallipopi’s music however is debatably a far cry from a purist’s idea of what quality music should sound like. But ‘Pluto Presido’ makes it work, speedily ascending into the coveted league of commercially successful performers in the country via an array of club hits that has ultimately justified his ‘sonic experiment’.

Shallipopi stamps his favored musical style as “Afro-talk”, a self-imposed sub-genre that validates online petitions challenging artists from coming up with ridiculous suffixes that consequently bombard the “Afro” prefix.

While Crown Uzuma is not the only culprit guilty of eyebrow-raising musical stylings, his appears to be the biggest felony. For one, his style seems like a mockery of the art he tries to align with- rap/hip-hop.

In open candor, Shallipopi comes off as ingenious, especially when putting into perspective the “street-hop” narrative. But in the grander scheme, his usual shenanigans are masked under local
Slang makes for a parody of what hip-hop entails- but it seems to do the trick until it doesn’t.

Shallipopi’s latest album released on the 12th of May 2024, which also falls on his birthday, is a nine-track body of work and Shallipopi’s second in barely a year since his ‘Presido La Pluto’ debut in November 2023.

The rapper’s debut housed hits like ‘Cast’(feat Odumodublvck), ‘Things on Things’, and ‘Oscroh ( Pepperline)’.

His consistent run in 2023 made him sort of an anomaly. How was it to be that a boy from Edo, Benin City, a boy without major label pushing ( at the time) and an unusual penchant for rhyming almost drowsily would rule the charts, dethroning Lagos-based ‘big cats’?

To most, it seemed like a miracle, one of fate’s savory works.

If anyone was high on Fortune’s inebriant nectar, it was Shallipopi. Fortune had smiled at him, and he wasn’t going to let this gift slip away. Perhaps, hence the hasty decision of an undercooked sophomore, at least from those who expected more.

Shallipopi’s sophomore in terms of club bangers, which seems to be his niche and selling point, is a promising body of work. In terms of unrivaled artistry however, the project is a big miss (but one is given to believe that the latter is of little concern to the rapper/ apparently, singer).

On ‘Shakespopi’, Shallipopi doesn’t change much and reprises his formula, delivering even more lackadaisically than usual. The silver lining, however, hints at potential hit songs like ‘100’, ‘High Tension’, and ‘ASAP’.

As said earlier, the album’s compilation makes little case for Shallipopi’s artistry, but standing in the gap is a case for showmanship. However, his showmanship barely makes the album a
decent listen, but frankly, it was less likely to be up to par, considering his talent- level.

In the end, Shallipopi appears to be riding on a wave that his good fortune has provided. While this tide isn’t well received by a vast majority who believe the rapper might be pushing his luck, others aren’t surprised as they are moved with conviction that this is the best Shallipopi could inherently conjure, even if he tried.

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