The beautiful thing about hip-hop is that you can never run out of new voices. For every mainstream or established rapper, there are a thousand upcoming/underground rappers vying for a crack at the spotlight. Leunamme (pronounced le-u-nah-me) is one of these new voices in Nigeria’s hip-hop scene, and I was fortunate to listen to his latest work; Contraband: The Mixtape.
Initially, I had a little trouble with the pronunciation of his name but thankfully, he sorted that out on the very first track which was really fortunate for this writer as the uncertainty would’ve killed me.
With only 6 tracks on it, Contraband is quite short but very effective as he raps smoothly and confidently over different beats, showcasing not only his versatility but also his self-confidence.
The opening track Baddest boy starts with a short skit from the TV series Atlanta about how “Nigerians don’t fail” before he begins rapping smoothly over a very familiar sounding beat. He talks about how he “did the impossible, anything can happen”. His flow is impressive and he sounds very comfortable switching it up at different times without stumbling.
On Forever he raps over the beat to Stormzy‘s Vossi Bop and by the time the beat drops, I’m sold on this guy. Just as I was thinking I might be biased to the instrumental, it switches to that of Shut Up by Blaqbonez, a song I’m not particularly a fan of. Yet, he sounded nice.
F*ck You comes on next and unexpectedly it’s a conscious rap song about the state of Nigeria. “Time to vomit all the garbage they fed us,” he says, I agree. This track isn’t as impressive as the previous two but it does show that there are different sides to the man and that’s a good thing.
Still on different sides to the man, the song Leunamme Baby is an afrobeat song where he’s pretty much singing. And again just as I’m thinking this might be my least favourite track, it switches to a drill beat. I am not exactly sure why he’d juxtapose two vastly different styles on the same track but I’m not mad at it either.
It’s a mixtape, by all means, experiment with different ideas. This latter half is very reminiscent of something from Alpha Ojini. It lifts the track a little but not so much as to change my general opinion of it.
Yah Yah is the fifth track on the mixtape. If you’re going to rap over the beat to ASAP Rocky‘s 1Train you have to go hard. And go hard they did. He features Regis, Avalon Pain, Muyii and Kannon. They all came correct. It isn’t exactly a bar fest but they all step up to the plate.
“Your shooter is a married woman ‘cos I know she misses” is a bar, I chuckled at that. Muyii‘s rhyme schemes were most impressive.
The project closes out with Still Naija, a tasty track that has Leunamme preaching oneness despite the great ethnic diversity in Nigeria. This is one where he absolutely does justice to the beat, totally dominating the Story of OJ beat. Very strong closer.
Overall, Leunamme is a rapper who seems to have a good knowledge of his strengths in music, armed with an arsenal of wicked flows and smooth delivery. He is very comfortable in the pockets of any beat and is almost never off.
On Contraband, he dabbles in different genres while rapping and although he doesn’t stay long enough for any to really stick, it serves as an effective showcase of his versatility.
You can check this project out on:
N.B: I did notice that the final track Still Naija is only on SoundCloud and not on Audiomack.