The rise to Stardom of Laycon is one that has been shrouded with love, hate, jealousy, bitterness, and even threats on his life. This has not hindered the fast-rising star’s journey to musical perfection. Not to forget that appearing on the Big Brother Nigeria season 5 was what gave him a musical platform. His songs were doing heavy numbers even while in the house, emerging the winner of the show then placed him on course for greatness.
Laycon has shown how good he is when it comes to rapping on several occasions. Some fans even believe that his music and rap ability was what gave him the leverage to become the final winner of the reality show. Of Lay Lay as he’s fondly called by his fans has also not held back since leaving the house, from his verse on Dj Spinall’s Nobody to the verse on Mr. Real‘s Fela, he came correct.
Prior to dropping his long-awaited project, Shall We Begin, Laycon released two singles, Wagwan and Fall for Me. Both of these songs topped charts for a while and received mixed reactions. The campaign from his fans and ex-housemates also helped build momentum for his album, which he finally released on the 30th of April. Let’s take a deep dive into the mind of the Genius.
A very important aspect of a project is the cover art. Shall We Begin comes with very simple yet thoughtful cover art. It shows Laycon sitting in the spotlight, behind a table, writing, with an almost empty cup of whiskey in front of him. This carries a lot of messages.
It is no news a lot of Hip Hop fans criticize the Ex-BBN winner’s pen game, so, this cover art shows Laycon writing while sipping on whiskey. Meaning he’s aware of his position now and he’s ready to prove these fans wrong. So…Shalll We Begin.
The album starts off with a solemn intro, an instrumental by DJ Klem. A very nice tune infused with happy and solemn chords, setting the mood of the album. It is quickly followed by God Body, on which the introductory 10 seconds of chant is immediately met with a really confident statement from Laycon ‘Listen good, this God Topic, talk about designers I’m the God Model…‘.
The track bounces on a fire hip-hop beat produced by Dwills Harmony and is packed with lines hyping and equating himself to a god. This track might be seen by hip-hop fans as the best track off the project. Laycon then closes the track with the statement “…God doesn’t meddle in affairs of men“, perhaps taking a shot at his fellow industry mates, a very bold statement.
The Subsequent track, Verified features the Mayor of Lagos, Mayorkun. The song sounds like a failed experiment not well cooked up in the lab. The chemistry intended to be achieved by the feature wasn’t really achieved and in return, it threw the whole track off. All Over Me starts out with a nice afrobeat vibe and exquisite production from Finito. This track in particular shows the rapper’s understanding of the Nigerian music scene. He picks a very relatable hook, catchy chorus, and good beat while not entirely sacrificing good writing.
Wagwan, one of the two lead singles released prior to the album, sees the singer talking about money and a lavish lifestyle. If you cut out the few corny lines here and there, and you put it back together, you’ll have a perfect bop.
Kele shows the impeccable ability to kill hooks that Joeboy possesses. Again, the rapper comes in singing then reverts to basic lines that Nigerian rap fans refer to as nursery rhymes. Despite that, Joeboy‘s flawlessness was good enough to raise the song slightly above average.
Starboy’s Terri comes clutch with his verse and chorus on Jeje. Another abysmal performance from the rapper, and a corny alphabet scheme throws the song very far off perfection.
Bam Bam Bam came with a Telz instrumental masterclass, which usually guarantees that artistes bring their A-Game to the table. This was not the case on this track. “…Spread your leg wide apart so that we could come together/ Round 69 pick a number”, it got cornier in the song as the rapper packed his verses with failed attempts at sexual rhyme schemes.
Moving on to the follow-up track, Want You Back, the only song with real chemistry. It looked and sounded like the goal that was set for the track was executed perfectly. Listening chronologically, this may sound like the best track so far.
Yusuf Kanbai or YKB as he’s fondly called didn’t hold back on Fall For Me. Laycon also did his best to match YKB‘s momentum. Altogether, the track is the best track off the album. Furthermore, producer Semzi made it impossible for the two artistes to fail by setting them up with a fire beat. This joint is the only 10/10 track on the whole album.
The song before the outro, My Lane, was a good attempt at praising his stans. It can’t be over-emphasized how terrible the rapper is at punchlines and wordplay. Regardless, his ability to speak real thoughts from his mind on a beat is underrated. The song would have been the second 10/10 on the album but the horrible mixing and horrendous chorus made the song very irritating to the ears. Even though, the song still stands tall with a 7 out of 10.
Often, rappers who are religious insert a recording of their parents praying for them into their projects. Laycon also did the same with …And so They Spoke… They say a Mother’s prayer is really important in whatever one does, may have be reversed scenario on the project. It also leaves room to wonder what correlation the title of the song has with its contents, or if the rapper had misplaced the titles of the intro with that of the outro. If you’re not a fan of lengthy voice notes, this outro is probably not for you.
Many hip-hop fans, excluding iCONS, believe that Laycon hasn’t put enough effort into his writing. They believe for him to be revered as a rapper, he needs to improve his pen game. Many were expecting to see him prove the fans wrong with his new album, but it looks like Of Lay Lay may not have done enough.
Overall, Shall We Begin is an average album, one of his worst projects in recent times. The album didn’t have or follow a set theme, it is packed with average songs, seemingly mediocre writing, and a failed attempt at making commercial songs.
The choice of features on the album may not have done the album any good. Maybe, featuring fellow hip-hop artistes might not have hurt the album as much as he thought it would.
To rate this album, it would be a strong 3.5 out of 10 and that’s being generous.