In this role of mine, listening to new singles and albums almost upon immediate release is not something done just out of love for the music, but out of obligation.
If not for the sake of reviewing them, then to at least be knowledgeable with every conversation surrounding what you do. What is however not a given is one finding time to re-listen, except for a rare few that truly commands you going back to them and that is the case here with Show Dem Camp‘s New year gift, ”Clone Wars IV.”
The album was released on January 1, 2019, so luckily for me, I was at home instead of my regular office seat, making it possible for me to easily put it on repeat without something urgent or breaking calling for my attention.
Of course, I have done my expected review and have been caught in other things, but the consciousness of the tape has stayed with me, with some lines re-echoing itself in my subconscious state and that is how I found myself going back to listen yet again and this time, outside [not] adding the word, ”Blamming” to my 2019 dictionary, I found some more clues to why this album is both a graceful social commentary and an introspective journey executed in many ways others cannot.
The more times I listened, the more I enjoyed it and the more I appreciated the growth and consistency of Ghost and Tec, particularly the latter, who arguably was at his hungriest in a long while on this album.
SDC have always made conscious music, right from their debut effort, ”Dreamer’s Project” with songs like ‘Talk About It’, the ”Clone Wars” series and even with the ‘distractions’ of the ”Palmwine” tapes, they consistently packed a message but on ”These Buhari Times”, they weren’t just conscious, they let the audience more into their lives with Ghost’s several reverential references to his daughter and Tec, who more than once shared personal conversations.
But the most significant achievement of this project is that screenwriter’s eye that Show Dem Camp brings to the listeners giving form and life to their words.
The lyrics are detailed in a way that they convey some of the most narrative descriptions with a controlled complexity of emotions that while on one hand you are wowed by their lyricism, on the other hand, they form an image in your head that takes you right into the studio and you find yourself standing outside the booth as they voice their verses, peeping through their notepads and connecting with where all the sharp rhymes and references are coming from.
Take, for instance, the intro when Tec said ”Since clone wars three I’ve been impatient, too much palm wine will cause intoxication, I just tried to give my guys some motivation, but they say they wanted balance.”
These are internal debates that can be applied across every field of life. As a writer at times, I ask, more telling long pieces that very few will read and your tiny Twitter community will hype you about or the quick, juicy trending contents that will translate to major traffic which is the drug of every online media house?
On ‘Duade’, which is one of my favourite songs on the album, a song that talks about vulnerability and conditioning, Tec breaks down the weight that the average male carries, that expectation that has led to the misrepresentation of the word, ‘Stoic’ as being ‘Strong.’
”I put my feelings in the chamber then I load it up, but I never shoot, it’s like we fear the truth”
And then Ghost totally sent my head going wild and me asking myself a thousand questions when he said,
”Swear that whole Tbills episode, struck a chord in my chest, If you’re living here in Naija, Ya some form of depressed, yes you heard correct, It’s a wonder how we manage, to be more concerned with if Wiz is datingTiwa Savage, than the interior decorations of our mental palace.”
How many times have we as humans focused on the failings of others while neglecting our long list of shortcomings? How many times have the internet provided distractions to boiling issues and we laugh and make jokes at the expense of someone’s situation? This is everything that the social media age has become.
The type of lines is strongly enforced across the entire project. On‘Epigenetics’, a scientific field of study that observes changes in organisms, Ghost points that ”There is generational trauma going on here” before going ahead to bare a number of topics on his verse including a sub at music critics.
Tec then paints the picture of ‘normalcy’ in seeing jungle justice play out at age five and then Ozone deftly caps it off with ”The man with the money wins, manacles on my mental, they don’t wan’t you to think, if you don’t move an inch, your praying won’t do a thing”. Damn.
‘Packaging’ is life as it happens on a daily in Lagos and Tec’s ”I know a guy ask for one red-bull, every time we see him inside the club, Ha, in his pockets not a thousand bucks, but his fresh kaftan, omo live as fuck, men I stopped going out for two years, came back and the guy was still inside the club”, does this sound anything like that guy in your University whom you swear should have graduated at least five years ago? Yeah, right.
Then there is pure witty dexterity on songs like ‘4th Republic’ where Ghost rhymed, ”The other day, men I swear I saw a Lambo, at the toll gate getting scratched by a danfo, I thought of life, stay humble as you plan bro, one day you’re in the clouds, the next day you’re Ambo.”
Just as Boogey while taking shots at the arms of Government closed the tape with a stark image of life as it happens around Aso Rock;
”Men of the senate are video vixens and artistes, if this is the bigger pic, every pixel is garbage, the future of my kids looking dark as mine, but we only care about which party shines, these Buhari times”
Show Dem Camp have not gotten to this revered heights in a vacuum, it’s projects like this where they are able to weave interesting stories around systematic government failings without making you feel like ‘We’ve heard it all before’ that makes them special.
”These Buhari Times” is a reflection of not just the polity from a Governance point of view, but covering the increased awareness in terms of rising issues like self-worth, depression and the importance of producing art that is pensive of mood and conversations in a way that hits so close to home.