Artiste: E.L || Album: ELOM || Label: BBnZ Live || Photo credit: @ELrepGH || By: Joseph ‘Aqweci’ Ofori
After the epic release of his 26-track debut album, fans had been asking questions as to when E.L will release his next album. The questions got answered when The BAR released the first lead single “Mi Naa Bo Po” and added a tweet indicating that his second album is finally done. I was personally amazed he had that plan because it was about a couple of months after he released the sequel to his BAR mixtape. That means E.L had been working on the album for long. He was creating and polishing his album and mixtape concurrently. Now that’s dedication and focus if you ask me.
Known by real name Elom Adablah, he wonderfully composes great music for the masses, both local and international. On this album E.L makes a bold statement, thus, he’s a jack of all trades and master of all. Maybe that’s why he called the album “Everybody Loves Original Music”.
The word “original” here is relative. Each person has his/her own way of defining original music, as it’s influenced by culture and other factors. The “Shelele” hitmaker once again proves his versatility by mixing different genres across the world all into one product. Young Lomi can be personified as a production machine in an industry which accumulates all the raw materials/foodstuffs. Different ingredients of diverse varieties from all parts of world, especially from Africa are processed to make a single finished product. The ingredients are the instruments, whilst the varieties represent the genres. The final product is definitely the 19-track ELOM album.
Now let’s get to my favourite part of a review, the dissection portion. EL is passionately a rapper who adapts to other styles of music effortlessly. Hence it’s not a surprise that Hip-Hop is well pronounced on the album. On a typical EL album, definitely you should expect to find Afro-Pop, Afrobeats and R&B songs. To depict his real roots, he adapts to traditional/indigenous Afro music, and surprises fans with something new to his catalog, House music. Not to forget the local Hip-Life and High-Life he delivered.
The VGMA 2016 Artiste of the Year nominee didn’t get much concerned with inculcating refreshing concepts, rather he majorly stuck to the cliché topic, love, in about 40% of the entire album.
Hip-Hop still remains as E.L’s favourite and it’s evident. He introduces the project with a sequel to the classic Hip-Life tune “Kwame Nkrumah”, which is originally on Obrafour’s “Pae Mu Ka” album. E.L briefs the listener about his journey in music and gives a sneak peek of the body of work. On “Don’t Let Me Burn” which happens to be one of my favourites, he discusses about lies and the negative aspects of it.
With assistance from Gemini, he talks about how he and his crew have hold of the game. He reserves “You Do All” for his shutouts to individuals who hold him down, including radio personalities, and paints a picture of himself and the journey so far. He calls on God on “Yehowa”, indicating that’s what he does during hard times. “We Are Going” happens to be the perfect outro. In a well-structured rhyme scheme and poetic verses, he again gives the listener more information about how he lives his life, the hardwork and dedication towards the music, etc.
Ghanaian producers are learning day in, day out. Listening to ELOM further confirms that. I think it’s safe to say there’s no whack production on the whole album. There are some elements incorporated in the sound which enriches the general outcome. Typical examples are the traditional percussions and handclaps on “Kwame Nkrumah II”, the well-laid progression and sub-bass on “Don’t Let Me Burn”, the heavy bass employed on some tracks. Not to forget the Akan sample on “Save Me”.
E.L is undoubtedly in the top-tier best Ghanaian rappers. Despite how commercial the album is, he exhibits mature poetry, delivers addictive flows/styles and dope rhyme schemes on the Rap/Hip-Hop songs. His verses are not saturated with literary techniques, instead, he focused on putting his message out, and he perfectly executed it.
The BAR is a force to reckon with in the Afrobeats/Afropop game. He takes the listener to the dance floor with 2015 BET African Act award winner, Stonebwoy, on track 4 ie. “Cake”. From there, he sandwiches Afrobeats jams to speed up the tempo. On “Washing Bay” he artistically says he and his pals use the hard way to con the ladies they desire. “Bolemor” is another jam with Nigerian artiste Patoranking, on which they sing about their sexual fantasies. From track 14 to 16, the sound became a bit repetitive with 3 continuous up-tempo Afrobeats songs.
The two biggest hits off the album, “Mi Naa Bo Po” and “Koko” are masterpieces. The former is one of the most classical Afrobeats songs I’ve heard in my entire existence as a being. The latter also comes with a groovy pattern to it. Let me however take this opportunity to address the debate over it being a gospel song. “Koko” has lines like “there’s no girly I no go fit run” which makes it a deviation from the pure attributes of gospel. Every form of gospel frowns on this act.. Period!
All the above discussed are regular stuff E.L is known for. On “Watch The Way You Dey Waka” he sings on the slow tempo indigenous Afro instrumental, and rides easily on “Gbagbalaja” which is a traditional Afropop with ‘agbadza’ and ‘jama’ influences.
ELOM can be a commercial success internationally, not just because of the languages (ie. English, Pidgin English, Ga, Ewe and Twi) and diction used, but because of some songs like “So Amazing” which is classy House music with Trap influences and “On and On” which has a mixture of African groove with typical foreign Pop. In my opinion, the latter is the best produced song on the project. Producers extraordinaire Drumroll and Slimbo, respectively, did the magic with EL and Efya.
Fam, how can I forget the hottest Hip-Hop jam, “Pour Put Inside”? I must say, Dex Kwasi owned this track hands down. “Sugar Girl” is easily a favourite of mine. It’s one of those songs that calms the troubled down. With Bisa’s soothing singing abilities, bass guitar and gong-gong inclusions, what more can you ask?
Every featured musician made sure to leave an unforgettable memory by giving his/her all. I was a bit astounded when none of his label mates was featured. It’s obvious EL wants to widen his fanbase to the reach of the African market. Reason why he featured top-notch Nigerian artistes Phyno, Patoranking, and Banky W.
Apart from “The One” which doesn’t sound so good, the post production on the album is quite satisfactory. EL’s singing vocals have always been auto-tuned. One may not even realize that because you won’t get the chance to hear his true voice on an EL track. However, the effect was overused in some few portions, especially on a couple of hooks and bridges. The track arrangement was well done, just that one may tend to skip “Gbagbalaja” or probably “Sugar Girl”, due to the confusion of tempos around tracks 11-13. The slow tempo High-Life song was not well sandwiched between mid-tempo Hip-Hop and the fast tempo Afropop.
Ghanaian music industry should be proud to have this album as part of its catalog. ELOM is one of the best to come out of the country. EL is writing history and this album will be written in deep ink.