Thursday, 3 July 2014

Album Review: Jesse Jagz - Jagz Nation Vol. 2: Royal Niger Company

Jesse Jagz undeniably ''The Greatest'' is a Plateau State born/breed act and a native of Taraba State Nigeria. He announced the release of his 3rd studio album and 2nd as an independent artist earlier in 2014. Finally the highly anticipated and unexpected album ''Jagz Nation Vol. 2: Royal Niger Company'' was released on the (28/03/2014) and surprisingly was available for free download.
The album consist of 11 tracks segmented into the four geo-political zones representing Nigeria and we would be doing a track by track review of this concept LP.

''Louis'': Jesse Jagz Kicks of the album with a very impressive record titled ''Louis.'' As the bell goes off in what appears to be a boxing ring and cheers from spectators in an audience he had a few facts to ascertain as a fighter and a champion of the game. But what strikes me about this record is the chorus which shows Jesse's vulnerability even a king in the game, as he is in constant search for wisdom and he reminds the listeners that ''freedom isn't free'' really everything has a price and needs to be appreciated when it is obtained. Jesse Jagz wraps up the track with an excerpts from the (1976) Academy Award winning movie ''Network'' with the famous line: ''I'm A Human Being Gad Damn It My Life Has Value.''

''Jargo (Ain't Nobody) (Feat. Tesh Carter & Chaka Khan)'': This is yet another great track off this LP as we see Jesse Jagz sample a classic from the (1983) hit song "Ain't Nobody by Rufus and Chaka Khan, laced with the distinctive vocals of Tesh Carter on the hook, as Jesse complimented the track with his experimental-hard lyrical bars to make it one of the hits off  ''Royal Niger Company'' LP.

''Oceans and Lakes (Feat. Sarah Mitaru & DUGOD)'': Jesse Slows it down on ''Oceans and Lakes'' with the alluring strings of the guitar and the amazing soulful vocals of Sarah Mitaru. This is a sensual love record that shows the desire that exist between a woman in love and a man who satisfies her fantasies. Jesse and DUGOD both deliver fantastic bars to give the record a good balance. ''Oceans and Lakes'' is certainly one of the classic off this project.  And this record wraps up the ''North'' aspect of the ''Royal Niger Company.''

''Sunshine'' (Feat. Fela Kuti)'': starting off the ''South'' side of this album Jesse Jagz pulls out an unexpected and by far the most experimental record off this LP as he features the late legend and pioneer of Afrobeat Fela Anikulapo Kuti on ''Sunshine'' keeping a perfect blend of Hip Hop and Afrobeat. Listening to the record I can hear the classic samples of the drums,the horn of the sax, the keys of Fela, giving it that Afrobeat/Highlife feel and the hard Hip hop baseline ''Sunshine'' breeds form Jesse's lines like; ''And you can't build Rome in a week/with the dome at the peak/ my flow is unique...'' ''And this from a city that don't play/when n***z floss like they don't hustle all day..'' with the chorus adding to the distinct flow and modern touch the record deserves. I am personally not a great  fan of the record but it appears to works fine, as just one of those good tracks on the album.

''The Search (Radio) (Feat. Jumar & DUGOD)'':  This is the lead single of the album and by far my favourite record off this LP. ''The Search (Radio)'' is another highly jazz influenced track laced with live instruments giving it that laid back aura and soulful touch. All three artist where appropriate for this record as we can see Jumar put his Pop/Soulful vocals on the hook, with DUGOD  and Jesse spelling out the reality of life and posing an important question about what motivates us to achieve. In two word: ''Real Song.''    

''Supply and Demand'':  This is a typical Hip Hop number off the project and Jesse had decent bars on an equally decent production. ''Supply and Demand'' kicks off the East side of the album.

''High – Life (Feat. Rexx)'': As the record is titled so we see Highlife in its purest form. Jesse recruit the amazing vocalist Rexx who did an amazing job on the chorus, giving the track a mix of the Highlife/Pop feel which makes it easy for listeners to fall in love with instantly.  The introduction to ''High – Life'' was very interesting and an experience most Nigerian's could relate to as regards to our daily struggles in the society. Jesse Jagz had some unforgettable lines such as; ''smile at the weather/ no matter how the pain gets/ the talks that you hear/ when the bottles in the air/ and when the rain falls/ they gon be puddles everywhere...'' ''hey mama/ can you see the panorama/ you living the life.../ you a real mama jama/ mama let me see you swing low in your pyjama..'' ''and if ever feel locked up in the panama/ I take you far mama/ we fly to a cabana/ where there's no longer hunger, war, or drama/ home is where the heart is...''
Brilliant outing on this track by Jesse making it one of my favourites off the ''Royal Niger Company'' and indeed a classic from the project.       
''Sunrise (Shine On)'': ''Mafioso'' love the theme of this track as we see Jesse sample the classic (1983) movie ''Scarface.''  ''Sunrise (Shine On)'' is sort of an inspirational number as we see Jesse take us back memory lane with probably some of his biggest music influences and his love for the art through the words of Tony Montana himself. Great job!!!

''The Case (Feat. Show Dem Camp)'':  This is HIP HOP! ''The Case'' is certainly one of Jesse's most deepest and personal bars I have heard and his style of flow reminded me of the late Hip Hop legend Notorious B.I.G. ''Show Dem Camp (SDC)'' where the most appropriate feature for this track as the duo held their own part of the bargain. The chorus goes:  ''now look what loving made you do?/ you running when no one is chasing you/ I don't care if they love me/ F**k it/ above me /only God can  judge me..''  
This is another classic off the album and worthy of a visual.

''The Window (Feat. Jumar)'': The intro of this track reminds me of a village/country farm where chickens are reared and we see the chicken cluck all through the track. I must say it is an amazing concept from Jesse as I can tell he was having fun on this track as well as showing his lyrical prowess, with Jumar keeping it real with his soulful vocals and giving the track some African soul. This is certainly an appropriate album track.  

''How We Do (Feat. Tupac)'': Closing up the LP and the ''West'' section of the project, Jesse samples the late Hip Hop legend's vocals ''Tupac Amaru Shakur'' as he held  nothing back about the hypocrisy in our society and the music industry which is still prevalent till date. And of course it was a no hold barred session for Jesse as he spits some authoritative bars on an impressive flute influenced beat.   

This is one Brilliant project from Jesse Jagz and possibly one of the only few ''concept album'' a Nigerian artist has put together till date. The ''Jagz Nation Vol. 2: Royal Niger Company'' had an album title which took us back to possibly our pre-colonial history, then we had a 11 track album which was divided into the four geographical zones present in Nigeria  and all four sections of the LP had an amazing connection that told the Nigerian experience.
The production level of this album was ace and we see Jesse Jagz expose his band in a greater light which was highly complimentary to the overall outcome. All the samples and music features he had on where well thought out and appropriate which added quality to the album. However, a lot of listeners will not consider ''Royal Niger Company'' as a typical ''Nigerian'' album as there was no room for the 9ja dance/club tracks, thereby this might hurt his career when it comes to his popularity or headlining events. but when I listened to this LP I sort of gained a new respect for this lad and I can see the version he had about putting out a project that would outlive him which I consider as DOPE. based on all the above reasons I would rate ''Jagz Nation Vol. 2: Royal Niger Company''  9.5/10. 

In case you haven't listened to Jesse Jagz - Jagz Nation Vol. 2: Royal Niger Company please check on it here: Royal Niger Company

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