Akintoye Balogun, a.k.a Ajebutter22 makes music for the grind but even at that, he’s one of a kind. Known for his captivating wordplay and well-rounded wholesome songs, rapping in English and Yoruba, he raised eye-brows on his joint album with long-time friend and producer Studio Magic “Anytime Soon” which became the number 1 album on iTunes Nigeria within 24hours of its release in February 2014.
“Senrenre”, “Celebrate In Advance”, “Omo Pastor”, “Humble Guy”, “Swagu”, few singles and Headies Nomination in between, he’s arrived with “What Happens in Lagos”- an indicator of his growth and artistic development while not straying far from the man he started with – Studio Magic. The title itself indicates the direction of the album and Butter has done well by sticking to his aim for most of the album.
But whatever happens in Lagos cannot be described without its inhabitant serving as eye-witness and this is where Ajebutter needs us to follow and pay attention to his 56 mins long story.
Poet, Koromone remains ever-present throughout the course of the album and her narrative with a resonating intro:
How do I begin a story about a place that can inspire and deflate you at the same time? How do I talk about Lagos? About how it has drawn me in, embraced me, encouraged me and spat on me all at the same time? Where do I begin? What is the city? The strange, eccentric humid place. What is Lagos?
He asked over a Studio Magic piano.
Lagos is metropolitan city, the most populated city in Africa, hub of everything that builds the reputation of Nigeria. Eko is where it all begins and end. Lagos is a “Good Place to Start”.
It didn’t take him long to ruminate on the state of affairs in the city and the country as a whole in the Mystro assisted intro track. From unemployment, to scarcity of fuel and the buzzing recruitment of youth in the “tchache industry”, Ajebutter has seen it all. Mystro though, ensures he personally made the opener a deep and insightful/solicitous one making this song a good place to start.
He then wakes by “4am” the next morning to beat traffic that started the previous day to continue the hustle. This time, with DMW’s Dremo who narrates his experience about how tough the hustle can be on an unfortunate day, every inhabitant can relate. It is evident Ajebutter stays on the Island but he has idea of how majority of Lagosians slug it out with poor electricity, police and hustle in general.
In “Dollar Ti Won”, Butter reminds us the economy is down in a bar spitting, punch throwing record and verifying reasons people stick with him in the first place. Here, he illustrates his life between his debut till date. How he’s being on the hustle, money, girls, political fraudsters and police like an average inhabitant of Lagos but he did these while demonstrating his uniqueness as a lyricist over a good production with backing vocals.
And if you’re broke as a joke you need a sense of humour
And life is not eazi. And it’s nothing personal.
Ajebutter is not a gangster, he is not even a street guy and credit to him, and he never claimed to be one. Being from a rich family, Butter attended a good school, studied abroad for both undergraduate and master’s programme and to top it all off, he’s a celebrity with a day job making it inevitable for him to have both legally and illegally rich friends. He explained how friends and richer friends of friends “ball” in Lagos on “Rich Friends” leaving him pondering on joining the tchache movement. Who would’ve thought Butter could be stunted on? But who hasn’t been on this road in Lagos?
It is important to note here that the success of Ajebutter’s narrative is the fact that everyone can relate from the opener and the album was brought to light when the Engineer recruits one of the long time friends he’s been talking about and collaborator, a trained legal practitioner, FalzTheBadGuy to discuss life of “Bad Gang” on another friend’s (Studio Magic) production in the first single off the album. The result is, we all know what the result is. Shout out to friends.
“We are Bad Boys” found M.I balancing Butter’s braggadocios for a minute as the swift transition continues while the production complements his delivery style.
Ajebutter has proven time and over to be a party dropper and he continues his progress by spiking things up with another spiritedsingle “Wayward” where he successfully dislodge his listeners and witnesses to the dancing floor with the Makblaize-produced afrobeat. Wayward showcases Ajebutter’s strength as he dexterously notifies us on his probable locations on an average weekend in Lagos while leaving his story intact in the album divider. The result is arguably the most enjoyable song on the album and a banger. ‘Olohun lohun lohun’, Standard you say?
He then briefly engages Odunsi on two tracks “Yoruba Boys Trilogy” and “Anything for the Boys”. Odunsi came through with crisp sound in the former which should’ve been “Ajebutter’s Trilogy” but doesn’t change a thing in the latter. In an attempt to womanize and hoping his sweet mouth will spread legs, Butter is dropping bars if you’re still paying attention.
Spending all the money like pesin wey tiff am
Having all these greens mio de soro fitfam
Having all these hoes like pesin wey fit farm.
Butter then switched up to another bright side with another Yoruba boy. This time with singer and producer, Maleek Berry in “Lifestyle”- a song for Lagos girls living on the wild side of life. Berry successfully delivered another addictive hook but it doesn’t end there, he complements Butter with his feel-good flow showing why he has gathered so a large fan base and support as an artiste and making “Lifestyle” a highlight of What Happens in Lagos.
For all the Lagos life Ajebutter chooses to live, that we choose to live, we are conscious and Butter reveals this in the thoughtful and emotional “Happy Ending”. The reveler recognizes he needs to choose a life partner but knows happy endings don’t lie in the night club. Male or female, we all want a happy ending in Lagos.
Even as the album draws closer to an ending, Butter still sounds happy and energetic as he returns us to feel-good vibes with Studio Magic produced single, “Lagos Big Boy” where he describes the life of a Lagos big boy, a baby boy, getting twale from bouncers, using custom plate numbers to being called different money names and “Biggie Man”, perhaps the hustle in Lagos has paid off.
He rhymes convincingly with braggadocios as he saves his best for the last in “Biggie Man”
People eat and fall asleep and have hiatus
Me I’m just trying to blow I’m not ISIS
Looking at the state of Naija like tears in my sister’s eyes when I say no crisis.
Then you wonder why Ajebutter is not dragging best rapper or lyricist with anyone.
He finally draws the curtain with another Studio Magic produced hit single “Ghana Bounce”.
GHANA BOUNCE VIDEO.
By now, listeners are brought back to realize they’ve been in the wild, challenging, fun-filled Lagos and back through their ears a win for Ajebutter22 and a huge achievement.
“What Happens in Lagos” is Ajebutter’s best work to date and at this level, he has managed to drag himself while keeping a day job, we can’t doubt his ability to surpass this body of work. We can only hope he won’t be wayward in finding time to give us the standard cause that’s what happens in Lagos.
Finally, Butter has not only succeeded in giving a valid narration of a big boy’s discernment of what happens in Lagos, most importantly, Ajebutter has ensured the witnesses keep this artifact for those that are new, coming, yet to come, hope to come, wishing to come and the innocent ones that dream of coming to Lagos.
Butter, please keep entertaining us.