Nigerian-born; Washington Dc based rapper Itamah Musmah might not be your mainstream singing superhero, but a Google search will reveal his longevity, talent, and considerable work experience in the Nigerian music community- Likewise a Spotify or Apple music search.
Musmah has spent nearly a decade revamping a sound that he proudly calls ‘Afro Surf’ while occasionally tour opening for meteoric Nigerian acts such as Burna Boy, Davido, Fireboydml, Omah Lay, and Rema over the years.
The Edo native began his music journey fully in 2015, announcing his entry through a four-track fledged debut titled ‘Mississauga’.
His debut was the product of a fresher, mildly experienced, and less toured version of himself. However, the content never reflected this version, as his debut possessed artistic depth and imagery with introspective storytelling- elements that were quite unpopular for a Nigerian artist in 2015 (except when such an artist belonged to the alte community) which he did.
Going out on a limb, one might say Musmah is an unsung pioneer of the urban cultural movement. Because, way before the alte movement became accepted and appropriated by the mainstream in recent years, Musmah had long been a flag bearer- telling relatable tales over unconventional beats and sonics.
Subsequently, his sonic exploration led him to bodies of work such as ‘Hotel: Hamdala‘ (2017); ‘And Hotel: Lafayette’ (2021).
These days, Musmah is in his late twenties and he leads double lives. One of which he hones as a musician, the other as a corporate salary earner.
Despite his conflicting and rigorous schedule, Musmah makes leeway for his music- running the whole shebang almost single-handedly.
His latest body of work ‘You Can’t Feel The Same Love Twice’ is independently published and promoted- with Musmah leveraging the powerful tool that is social media- more specifically, Instagram.
The twelve-track album is Musmah’s LP debut and is spearheaded by commercial-tinged singles such as ‘Yaba‘ yet contains depth and artistic musings.
The project kicks off with chordophone movements, electric loops and processed percussive rhythms via ‘Tennis Chain’.
He enjoys subtle braggadocious on the inaugural record while simultaneously hinting at a vulnerable honesty as to his past struggles with money.
Noticeably, Musmah doesn’t over-accentuate his punchlines, he keeps them modest, yet prominent- “Swimming in the money, watch how I backstroke”.
He follows mono rhyme schemes all through before coming to a climax- in which he introduces his audience to the show by almost muttering: ” You can’t Feel The Same Love Twice”.
‘Sade’s Dilemma’ is next in sequence. Musmah tells the complicated “love” story of two protagonists- that builds on real-life issues between adults. It is a tug of war between priorities: Love, Lust, or a go at the Bag, which shall it be? Musmah asks through the lenses of his selected characters.
Ultimately, he paints a vivid imagination of the new normal as it pertains to the relationship norms of modern-day living.
‘R.A.F’ has this palm wine sonic tapestry to it. Perhaps it’s the relaxed guitar progressions and Musmah’s larger-than-life vocal timbres- as the Gen-Z saying goes: it’s giving.
‘Ade’s Regret’ is the sequel to ‘Sade’s Dilemma’. He continues the tale of bruised egos, broken hearts, and the empty rat race of chasing financial solace over real connections- “Seems like the only thing with love is currency, no lovers but we gat some enemies, there is fire on the mountain, five heartbreaks but who’s counting”, he belts.
Comparing and contrasting his past works with the present, Musmah seems to be embracing his theist inclinations on ‘You Can’t Feel The Same Love Twice’ more- leaving hints at every chance, ‘Staring at the mirror thinking everything is vanity, my dreams creeping into insanity” ( Dawn In Dc). He depicts insights that only come with age, adversities, and faith in the supreme.
“Wabisabi Papi” is a phrase that recurs on the project and it earnestly provokes a thought – especially with the translation of the Japanese term “Wabisabi” meaning finding beauty in imperfections and the transient things of life. It speaks volumes of the rapper’s present state of mind and the philosophy from which he adopts it.
On ‘Cappuccino Interlude’ he employs these said philosophies as well. ‘Waze’ gives hope to the project regarding passionate love. This is the first time he out rightly confesses love without dwelling on insecurities and harsh realities- he wears his hopeless romantic veil here.
‘Old Habits Die Hard’ talks about thirst traps, haters, politickings, and struggles with old habits. All he does on this record is bring a closer look into his lifestyle albeit an abrupt end before leading to a sequence (Session One).
‘Session One’ is set around Therapy- it’s a one-sided conversation between Musmah and a hypothetical therapist in which he divulges the heaviest of burdens wrapped in his chest- from trauma derived from past romantic relationships to stress and regrets all in hopes to substitute these burdens for peace of mind and summer breeze shaded by trees.
‘Big Stick Policy’, Musmah puts on his gangster cloak on this record- dropping the elevated nice guy rhetoric for a while as he aims at his ‘Opps’, ” I come in peace, but you know my niggas far from nice, spin the block twice so the opps know it’s really on sight”.
Finally, the sonic voyage comes to an end with ‘Facade’. He questions the viability of the media, politics, and life in general on this record. Claiming everything that isn’t faith-based is a mirage.
In summary: ‘You Can’t Feel The Same Love Twice’ is not a one-dimensional body of work as the title suggests. Musmah projects more than emotive fluctuations- he deeply and holistically soul searches instead.
Listen To Album Here: