[Album Review] DJ SPINALL: WHAT HAPPENS TO DREAMS DEFERRED? || Chukwudi Iroko
A moment of silence for DJ Olu, who lost his life in the game…
He was a friend of DJ Spinall, the man whose third studio album, Dreams, is currently under review, before the cruel hands of death snatched him from us under what has been reported as, mysterious circumstance. This is happening within a week as two other close friends of Nigerian popstar, Davido, Tagbo and Chime, also lost their lives. It is indeed a depressing moment for Nigerian music industry. The departed may not be in the consciousness of the public before their demise, but they pulled significant back stage strings in the lives of our stars.
I intended to turn in this article earlier than this. Unfortunately, I could not bring myself to doing it. To borrow Spinall’s words, it didn’t feel right. I could not talk about the art of a man who was deeply shaken by the loss of a dear one, so much so that, he declared three days of no-promotions on this project, to morn his friend. Make no mistakes, DJ Spinall did put in work on this album. Some friends indeed do turn brothers. May the soul of the departed DJ Olu and others rest in peace. Life is theatre, the show must go on!
DJ Spinall requires no elaborate prologue in Nigeria entertainment industry, the same way you don’t attempt prolonged introduction of Kendrick Lamar to a hip-hop head. Spinall has built a reputation for himself as the Crazy Azz Party (CAP) DJ. This particular year would have been wine and roses, seeing that his artistry has earned him recognitions and awards, such as City People Award and recently AFFRIMA. But death insisted on adding a bit of drama, just when he wanted to make another artistic statement. But all is not lost.
Spinall has in three years released three albums! Consecutively. This is a feat most of your favorite artistes can only dream of. And this same reason is why the expectations are high on Spinall’s third studio album, Dreams.
Most Nigerian influential DJs/record producers are now becoming hit-makers. DJ Jimmy Jatt, Masterkraft, DJ Xclusicve, and DJ Shabzy are popular examples. But this tradition of DJs/record producers releasing singles, plus the bolder step of compiling a body of work to realize an albums, is not novel in hip-hop culture. Before now, hip hop veterans like DJ Clue?, Dr. Dre, David Guetta, DJ Drama and especially DJ Khalid, have been setting inimitable standards, influencing the culture as a whole. So, Spinall has enormous antecedents to learn from from this ongoing tradition.
In their various album projects, these influential DJ/record producers have all proven something beyond reasonable doubts, which is that, venturing into album-making is a way to prove how connected they are to both the hottest stars of the moment and the cream of the music industry. And that’s not all, they seem to be saying that their only business in venturing is just ‘’all about the beat” ( apologies to David Guetta)
But in essence, given their exposure to wide range of musical genre, DJs’ musical concern should be more expansive than the scope they currently pursue. For no matter how commendable we think their audacity might be, we must also know that mere audacity counts for nothing if it does not translate to new hope and rejuvenation for our musical culture, both in form and substance. This industry needs a breath of fresh air. And who says DJs cannot be instrumental to this cause.
Expectedly, DJ Spinall demonstrates keen sonic sense by arranging the tracks on the album in a way that each track transits onto another, seamlessly. Playlist. However, after Niniola’s intro track, Thinking About You, a song that neither challenges nor shows other artistic aspects the singer, followed the calm track by an upcoming artiste who goes by the name Wurld, we experience the whole album in two distinct soundscapes.
Clubs, party, vibes, defines the biggest chunk of this project. People who don’t party may look elsewhere. But a song that comes as a surprise on the album is Hanky Panky featuring Harrysongz. I asked one of my a friend to guess who the singer was, he couldn’t until I told him.
Why are DJs deferring the dreams of making albums outside party-oriented ones? Being close to music, one thinks this is not beyond them to do. DJs can’t blame lack of resources because they are there. But if money is the major aim, well, we will be here in this cycle of ‘hits only’ for a long time.