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ALBUM REVIEW: The Planet Neptune Is Personified On Greatness 2.0, An Album That Shoots DJ Neptune Beyond Expectations And His Counterparts.

Although DJ Neptune officially started his career in 2001 as a disc jockey, he did not release any project until 2018 when he released his debut album, Greatness. Disc jockeys almost everywhere in the world have always proven that they compiling several songs together to facilitate dance is not the only thing they are good at doing; they, like the numerous singers scattered everywhere in the industry, can also enter the recording studio and cook up jams for fans to relish. Although more often than not, these DJs rely on the artistry of the singers to achieve this.

DJ Neptune is in the category of the many DJs that do this. Before attaining this height, the Edo State indigene, Imohiosen Patrick, was employed by Nigeria’s first private radio station, Ray Power 100.5 FM Lagos in 2004—a job he left six years later. In 2008, Neptune worked with Naeto C as the singer’s official disc jockey. This was followed by series of promotional mixtapes put up for free downloads online.

All these could easily be traced back to the late 90s when the now renowned DJ developed interest in entertainment. Entertaining friends was the first step, followed by watching several online DJ tutorials. The 31-year-old would later be seen mixing songs for friends at school, restaurants, parties and night clubs.

Though the first volume of Greatness was his debut studio album, notwithstanding, before now, Neptune had had a series of singles featuring Naeto C, Da Grin, BOJ, MI, General Pype, Lynxx, Jesse Jagz, Olamide, Stonebwoy, Mr Eazi, Kizz Daniel, Davido and Joeboy.

Contrary to one’s expectations, the release of the second volume of Greatness on November 26th, 2021 left some controversies in its wakes. At the dawn of the day Greatness 2.0 was released, Rema, one of the featured artistes on the new album, took to Twitter in a lengthy rant to call out DJ Neptune. According to Rema’s accusations, Neptune did not take permission before releasing For You, a Rema song, included on Greatness 2.0.

Reacting with several documents which show that Neptune went through the right channel before including For You on the album, the DJ nullified Rema’s claims. Sean Okeke, Rema’s manager was to later clarify that the song was originally scheduled for release a year ago. However, Neptune’s failure to release it last year prompted Rema to change his plans about releasing the song.

In all of these were two other DJs—Kaywise and Spinall. Kaywise had taken sides with Rema rebuffing people’s takes on Rema being arrogant while also noting that a group of disc jockeys demanded that he, Kaywise, cancel Rema and stop playing his songs. These claims were doubted until Spinall publicly lashed out at Rema on Twitter and skipped his song at Smirnoff No Known Address party that took place two days after the release of Greatness 2.0.

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Greatness 2.0 is Neptune’s sophomore album, although it is preceded by Love and Greatness, an extended playlist released in 2019. The album art uncovers a disc jockey who majestically sits on a throne placed above the globe. It is an art that graphically explains D’banj’s “I’m on top of the world” line.

This is necessary! He is Neptune, a planet outside Earth. Hence, the cover art is a proper representation of what he embodies—a greatness so out-of-the-world or one so extraterrestrial. Greatness 2.0 consists of 16 tracks and 27 features, making it 4 more features than the 23 outstanding singers employed by Grammy-certified producer, Rexxie, on his True Champion album released earlier in the year.

Waje’s verse opens the album with the song Rise Up. With the Nigerian four-men Kabusa Oriental Choir providing backup vocals for Waje on the hook, she captures the struggles for success as well as the need for self-motivation to keep going in spite of the uncertainties of life. Laycon easily creates emphasis on the topic, using his own story of struggles and the desperation that has always pushed humans to do the unthinkable for survival.

The theme of the Hip Hop song takes another dimension with the introduction of Ladipoe on the third verse as the rapper bases the attainment of success on “pain and sacrifices”, “I didn’t come this far to come this far” amusingly being the takeaway pun from his lines. It is deducible from this particular song that Waje still got her magic as she comfortably dominates here.

Do and Undo featuring Mr Eazi and Shitto featuring Yemi Alade, Stonebwoy and One Acen are Ghanaian Highlife songs exuding love affair. Mr Eazi epitomizes a lover ready to satisfy a lover in every way humanly possible on Do and Undo, track 2.

Thematically, Shitto, track 14 too, is not different, safe for the energetic exchange of flows between Stonebwoy and Yemi Alade on the chorus of the song. It is important to note that Shito is a Ghanaian delicacy of hot pepper sauce prepared with dried fish and prawn. The song thrives on guitar tunes and it is more of a wedding party jam than Do and Undo.

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Greatness 2.0 Tracklist.

Neptune’s craft swiftly shifts to Trap as he juxtaposes Blaqbonez and Cheque on Cupid, track 3. Here, Cupid, the Greek god of Love is incriminated—Blaqbonez detests the commitments that come with loving, thus the reason the rapper refers to love as “bullshit”. To him “love is the devil” because it is demanding. This is not strange from a rapper who puts “S3x Over Love” on a project released earlier this year. At the end of it all, Cheque is left with nothing significant to do on the song.

The usual Rema who playfully professes love is heard sugar-coating his lyrics for the allurement of his intended. Tons of promises are made, subtle s3xual intents follow. It is love in the air! This time, with the tempo totally upped for a fast-paced dance. Obviously, For You should have come before Cupid on the project.

The street is explored with the first Amapiano song on Greatness 2.0. Neptune takes Patoranking to the hood on Gaza. The part of Patoranking that is very conversant and so fluent in street Lingua Franca is laid bare as the Reggae Dancehall singer strongly appeals to ghetto inhabitants on his way “to Gaza” with DJ Neptune adopting slangs like “chikala”, “aza”, “kpanji”, “bulala”, “ganja”, “shandy”, “e choke”, “jogodo” etc.

Geographically, Gaza or Gaza Strip is originally a Palestinian border between Egypt and Israel. However, based on context, Gaza might be Patoranking’s reference to the street or ghetto. If the song Nobody was not included on the album, Gaza would be the lead single. Gaza was produced by one of Falz’ go-to producers, Willis.

One of the unexpected collaborations happens on track 6, Ololufe—Peruzzi and Simi expressing affection side by side. As much as this sounds Afrobeats-tic at the opening, Speroach still found a way to give it an Amapiano appeal. Creativity!

Ololufe is used to demand for love and attention. These are lovers who are not contented with the show of love available to them from their partners. It is not a myth that Peruzzi is always at the top of his game anytime Speroach makes him a beat. Majesty, Disturbance etc are attestations.

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Neptune takes his craft into South Africa with the feature of Focalistic on Hustle. This is the second break in the theme of romance majorly discussed on the album. Hustle as used by Focalistic on this Amapiano song is synonymous to being hardworking. Although, majority of the song lyrics is delivered in the singer’s local language, regardless, Focalistic limits his own hustling to that of “Yahoo boys”. If one shuts his eyes against this part of the song, Hustle is a jam for DJs.

With track 7, Hustle may be, coincidentally separating Simi and her husband, Adekunle Gold relishes a very remarkable romance on Love Potion. The calmness in AG’s voice significantly blends with his appreciation of his woman’s love. It is evident the singer cannot explain the reason behind his loving of his lover. This is why “e come be like say you give me love potion” on the Afropop song.

The subtle s3xual fantasies, where Rema left it on For You, is picked up even more strongly, by Omah Lay five tracks after. Abeg issues serial dirty-talker Omah Lay and Joeboy pleading at the mercy of a lady with high s3xual drive.

You are still wondering how these producers infuse Afrobeats with Amapiano when Omah Lay’s sensual pun strikes you. Omah Lay claims “she’s giving me different style” (obviously s3x styles) only for him to use “she is my barber” to wash himself of whatever lustful image your mind pictures in the first line. That’s euphemistically criminal!

Neptune makes it a duty to retain the theme of s3x even on the following track, Only Fan. Only Fan is the meeting point between the street, Zlatan and the lyrically sensual Lojay. DJ Neptune basks in the Amapiano fever with Lojay and Zlatan behind the studio mic. This means a lot to the former’s fans who have waited for more since the unveiling of the vocalist, Lojay, by Sarz months ago.

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Lojay treads the part he is known for as he euphemistically paints s3xual fantasies. Zlatan, in a bid to be passionate, hyperbolizes the physique of the subject of glorification. For Lojay, it is imperative the lady “show me that your body” because “I’m your only fan”—the “d0ggy” is a child of necessity. Zlatan too would have himself blamed if he doesn’t have a sip of this “bottle” of Coke.

Bella Shmurda takes on several topics on On God—his reliance on the creator easily the central idea on the song. There is a sample of Naira Marley’s Coming at some point. There are references to smoking, drinking, celebrity living with the “girls” and “cars”. “Happiness is free” and Bella Shmurda will do anything to experience it. The line “Bella Shmurda na murder” is a parody of his own blunder at the Headies in 2020, a blunder that got him trending on Twitter with the hashtag “Bella murder”.

On the Hip Hop song Cash, Neptune took the listeners to Ghana again with Kofi Jamar. However, the Enugu born rapper known as Jeriq the Hustler provides Kofi assistance. Both rappers’ are ambitious of “getting the cash”. It is necessary to live the extravagant celebrity lifestyle such as balling “from coast to coast”, to “drive them crazy”, “moving fast”, to buy “Versace”, “Gucci” and “Bugatti” etc. It is all ambition for extravagance and flamboyance.

Phyno picks it up from these aforementioned two on the Amapiano-concentrated Recipe. Majority of his lyrics delivered in Igbo, the rapper drools about the appearance of a female he is attracted to, not without retaining the dance-ability of the Amapiano song. It’s that rhythmic! Perhaps, what he is seeing is “heavy” and he hopes to test the waters, even if it is “one round”.

My Woman is a display of love between two Tanzanian singers—Harmonize and Anjella. It is a continuation of the exact thing discussed on Shitto, track 14. This show of love is to continue on Nobody, the track with which the album closes. If you wonder why Nobody, a song that is over a year old, was included on the new project—it is because the song is too big to be left outside an album.

In the heat of the 2020 lockdown, Nobody was one of the biggest songs in Africa. It later became a contender for the Best Collaboration and won the Best Pop Single at 2020 Headies Awards. It is a rhythmic show of jealousy resulting from excessive love from both Joeboy and his Empawa label executive, Mr Eazi. Love and jealousy are accurately personified!

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For a disc jockey who may be pardoned for incompetence in the art of singing, Neptune’s Greatness 2.0 rockets beyond what is expected. Rather than ride on the fact that pardoning exists for DJs who cannot sing, Neptune churns out beautiful music with Greatness 2.0.

Every available genre is explored to appeal to different listeners who are known to have different tastes of music. This is why the three Hip Hop songs (Rise Up, Cupid and Cash) are there on the album. Although Highlife, Amapiano and Afrobeats seem to dominate the project based on numbers and even appeal.

Greatness 2.0 is a masterclass from DJ Neptune, judging with the fact that disc jockeys hardly release projects. The album particularly symbolizes the title it carries. Dera the Boy, MOG, Andre Vibez, Yung Wills, Sess, Fancy Beatz, DJ Krept and Speroach take production credits for the songs on the album, although Magic Sticks take more credits for producing half of the album including the songs Nobody and Only Fan.

Author: Sam George Mac
Sam George Mac is a music journalist, singer of Afrobeats, Highlife, Dancehall and R&B, a songwriter, house painter, poet and playwright. He is a graduate of Mass Communication from the West African Union University, Cotonou, Republic Du Benin. Sam George Mac is a native of Ogun. Currently, his songs, with the stage name SGM, are available on many streaming platforms like Deezer, Shazam, Audiomack, Spotify, Amazon, Tik Tok, YouTube Music, Apple Music, iTunes etc.

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