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ALBUM REVIEW (Off The Record Vol. 2 by Reekado Banks)

Reekado OTR EP
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Described as a “comeback” by fans, Off The Record combines a variety of topics with ensnaring sounds easily deemed specific to Reekado Banks alone—it is the usual Reekado—however, with a slight novelty as the singer hitchhikes a ride on the South African infectious Amapiano sounds. Sadly, Off The Records is short-lived by space and time based on the singer limiting the project to just 5 tracks, making it a little taste from the pot of melodic artistry he has always toted…

An indigene of Ondo State, born into a family of music lovers, Reekado Banks, christined Ayoleyi Hanniel Solomon started music as early as 2008 after graduating from secondary school at age 14, with his elder brother producing all his first set of songs, teaching him the basics of music including production and songwriting. Rheekado graduated from the University of Lagos with a degree in History and Strategic Study in 2014.

It was that same year his elder brother submitted some of his songs to Mavins Records in an online talent search without his consent. Fortunately, Reekado Banks got signed to the label and he did not exit until 2018. After his exit from the label, he established his own record label known as Banks Music. A year after, he sacked his elder brother from being his manager, and described his action as “next level dealings”.

So far since he properly debuted his career in 2014 with the song Turn It Up, Reekado has gone on to release a single album titled Spotlight in 2016, under Mavins Records, and two extended playlists titled Off The Record (vol. 1) in 2020, and its second volume in 2021, both as an independent artiste. Spotlight debuted at number 10 on the Billboard World Albums chart. Reekado himself won the 2014 Rookie of the Year at The Headies Awards and later won the controversial Next Rated category of the award the following year.

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Reekado Banks boasts of a series of hit songs including Chop Am, Oluwa Ni, Katapot (rumored to be a diss track directed at Wande Coal and D’banj, a rumor later rebuffed by Don Jazzy, his label boss at Mavins Records), Standard, Rora, Like, Ladies and Gentle Men etc.

The singer has experienced quite a few ups and downs in his career, including two or three hiatuses, the last happening immediately before and after his release of Off The Record (vol. 1) in 2020. Amidst these developments are two different online humiliation from Burna Boy in the heat of the 2020 lockdown issued by the global pandemic of that year, and the other from Wizkid in the depth of the war against police brutality in Nigeria in 2020.

Burna Boy had publicly belittled Reekado as unqualified to match him in a battle of hits when the latter requested for a head-to-head showdown of hit songs, while Wizkid had directed insults at Reekado for being insensitive i.e releasing a song they had together at a critical time of the End Sars protests in 2020. These two cases of public humiliation were the bedrock for the songs People Dey (featuring Mr Eazi) and You Dey Mad off the first volume of Off The Records released in 2020.

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Few hours after releasing the second volume of his 2020 Off The Records extended playlist, many fans have taken to the internet to describe Reekado Banks’ release of the EP as a “comeback”, leaning the claim on the fact that he has not had much of an enjoyable career since he departed from Mavins Records in 2018. Based on this, Off The Records (vol. 2) has been described as a compilation of “good music” and a lot of fans passionately hope it puts Reekado Banks back where he originally belongs.

Off The Records (vol. 2) gets production credits from P Prime, Parker Ighile, Biggie Jazzy, Marv, Jesse Sokari George, Babatunde Bello and Ola Gold. It should be noted that Wale Turner is one of the songwriters deployed on the EP; Wale Turner, who has been struggling to find his feet again after a long hiatus from music, wrote one of the songs on OTR (vol. 2).

If one tells a newsman or reporter to make a piece of information off the record, one is telling him or her not to publish one’s speech in any news content. Something off the records is confidential and should not be reported or revealed officially. Reekado Banks illustrates this in the cover art of the EP as he puts an index finger on his lips, a way of telling everyone to keep this body of work “off the record”. This is an EP, therefore it shouldn’t be considered an album.

Reekado OTR Tracklist
Reekado Banks’ Off The Records Vol. 2 Tracklist.

Pulling Up marks the beginning of the extended playlist. With Afropop instrumentals majorly built on thick bass guitar sounds, Reekado Banks delivers a multi-thematic song with three verses; a story of lusting on a lady, a take on the media’s perception of his absence and a reminder of what he embodies well served to the listeners. Contrary to what everyone believes, “I’ve been around”. His worst experience was being “caught by surprise”; an experience that put him on the verge of suicide i.e “had me on the ropes”.

Since Reekado Banks fell victim to online disgrace in 2020, he has attempted two different responses (You Dey Mad and People Dey on OTR, Vol. 1) to the painful experience, and Ozumba Mbadiwe makes his third reaction to the aforementioned phenomena as he directly takes swipes at the African “Giant”.

Basically, the Amapiano song is a recollection of the bloodshed that marred Lekki protests organized to call for the disbandment of the notoriously brutal Special Anti-Robbery Squad in 2020.

Reekado Banks Ozumba Mbadiwe Art
The cover art of Ozumba Mbadiwe, the lead single of the OTR extended playlist.

Ozumba Mbadiwe, which is both a road along Lekki Toll Gate and the name of a Nigerian nationalist, politician and government minister in the First Republic of Nigeria, also answers the questions asked about Reekado Banks’ whereabouts as the singer appears to have been absent from the music scene awhile. One is torn between being sad (because of the issues raised on the song) and dancing (because the song is an Amapiano made with guitar sounds that play on, perpetually).

The Amapiano fever continues on Lupita Nyongo, track 3. The song is named after Lupita Nyong’o, an African Hollywood actress. Lupita Nyong’o is both a citizen of Kenya and Mexico. She is known for starring in many movies, including Ryan Coogler’s 2018 superhero film, Black Panther. She had played the role of Nakia, one of the female bodyguards of T’Challa (late Chadwick Boseman).

Reekado Banks, marvelling at the “beauty of a woman”, her physique, especially her “ass” and her “belly button”, likens the fineness of his intended to that of the black actress, Lupita Nyong’o. The atmosphere is all lively, unlike on Ozumba Mbadiwe. Therefore, on the second verse of Lupita Nyongo, Reekado structures his lyrics to take on rap as he alludes to Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s residence in Bourdillon, Ikoyi in Lagos State.

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Reekado Banks has an eye for red wears.

Reekado is really fast about things; he is readily prepared to “put a ring on your finger” on Selection. The love affair gets really serious; it is at its peak. The feeling is high just as the song is originally Highlife itself, although the vamping of the piano gives it a Bob Marley/Lucky Dube’s type of Reggae feel. Selection is a variant of slangs like spec, type, taste etc; it is clear when the singer says “I’ll always select her, although I have a selection”.

Self Esteem is a wake-up call on women suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome; these women continue to wade through the waters of domestic violence, abuses, sexual objectification, sexual harassment and dehumanization, and surprisingly, they continue to endure it because of “love”. According to the singer, women like this should simply “say enough is enough” and get someone to love them better.

Reekado Banks makes himself available as a confidante to one of such women. He is ready to give her proper “love”, an “arm”, and treat her like the human she is. The message is straight; “don’t let any man f*ck with your self-esteem”.

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With just sixteen minutes of singing, Reekado Banks takes the listeners through a series of experiences ranging from lust to grief, love, the Stockholm Syndrome etc. Afropop, Highlife and Amapiano are the media through which he conveys these messages. Many may not forgive the singer for making the project house just 5 tracks, thereby making it too short, unlike the first volume which contains 7 tracks.

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Reekado has literally asked that one keeps this project unpublished, but in actuality songs like Ozumba Mbadiwe, Pulling Up and Lupita Nyongo are too melodious to be kept Off The Records. Reekado Banks should know that you can only ask to keep off the record a bad record, not a nice body of work like this one.

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