The album’s title is an attempt by Timi Dakolo to restate his status as one of Nigeria’s finest vocalists.
Timi Dakolo’s albums are few and far between so when he releases projects, they are carefully crafted to satisfy the cravings of his fans and offer them something tangible to hold on to until the powerful vocalist delivers another August release.
‘The Chorus Leader(TCL)’ is the title of Timi Dakolo’s third album released on January 26, 2024, four years after his 2019 Christmas album. The album’s title is also an attempt by Dakolo to restate his status as one of Nigeria’s finest vocalists whose work is grounded in the detailed musicality of gospel music while also embracing his South-South culture and the ever-evolving Afrobeats soundscape.
The 17-track ‘TCL’ packs songs that stretch across multiple genres as Timi Dakolo explores Soul, R&B, Afrobeats, Jazz, Highlife, Gyration, Afrobeat, and Gospel while offering his takes on the themes of love, family, hope, and faith.
On ‘TCL’, Timi Dakolo assumes the position of the conductor of his orchestra as he crafts an album that flows smoothly and transitions beautifully across genres and themes while gripping listeners for 61 minutes as they make their way to a gratifying finish.
Sometimes, making the type of music that appeals across the board to all cadres of listeners can result in making music for no one in particular as the music lacks in large portions what’s to sustain the attention of a given demographic. To solve this, artists employ an underlying sound that connects with a given consumer base while offering bits of music that reach out to bring others into the fold.
It’s this fine balance that Timi Dakolo achieves in ‘TCL’ as he makes music that at its core, appeals primarily to listeners whose sonic taste palettes are formed by the sonics that drive contemporary gospel music and a demographic who enjoys a modern take on Nigerian indigenous music.
The opening orchestra, ‘Omo Ayo’ takes listeners to church while ‘Nothing Dey Spoil For God Hand’ and the closing message of hope in ‘Everything(Amen)’ are edifying records whose musicality is shaped by contemporary gospel records.
Timi Dakolo deploys Amapiano Log drum for the feel-good single ‘Happy Fellows’ where he uses Nigerian pop cultural words like “cruise” and crafts a catchy hook to make a party-starting record that offers his mainstream younger listeners something. He offers love that comes with a good time in ‘Premium Enjoyment’ which is heavily influenced by South African gospel music and it packs social media soundbites that would have an artist like Spyro salivating. Like ‘Happy Fellows’, ‘Premium Enjoyment’ has choral vocals inspired by gospel music.
He robustly explores indigenous Nigerian genres to create variety as well as help form a cultural core for the album. He extols his Bayelsa heritage in the Masterkraft-produced Ogene record ‘Men of the South’. The record is a cultural celebration that can be expected to become a staple in events in the South South.
He taps Patoranking, an artist distinguished for his modern take on Highlife gyration on ‘Na So E Be’ as they examine life’s complexities while encouraging listeners to embrace life’s little happiness.
Dakolo channels Fela Kuti on ‘Hustle’ where he restates how money makes the world go round. He also deploys Afrobeat in ‘No Forget Home’ where he echoes the immortal words of Sound Sultan in his classic ‘Motherland’ as he reminds Nigerians to remember home even as they leave the country in droves in search of greener pastures.
Timi Dakolo is very vocal about his romantic endeavours. There’s hardly a wedding playlist that doesn’t feature his classic record ‘Iyawo MI’ and on ‘TCL’, he delivers more love tunes which comes at the perfect time just ahead of Valentine.
Multi-talented musical maestro Cobhams Asuquo produced the Highlife gyration ‘This Woman’ where Timi Dakolo celebrates his lover as Phyno, Cobhams, and Black Jeez deliver smooth verses in Igbo, Hausa, and Ijaw language. Perhaps the decision for Cobhams to rap in Hausa as opposed to the more obvious choice of getting a rapper to deliver Yoruba verse is informed by Dakolo’s desire to achieve a more robust national outlook.
A good part of the album is driven by R&B. Dakolo offers the confessions of a tough guy turned hopeless romantic in ‘Hard Guy’ and pledges his eternal love in ‘The Vow’.
Dakolo deploys Hausa to mold the chorus for the serenading love record ‘Ke Na Ke So’ which means “You’re the one I want”. He uses Yoruba in his classic love record ‘Iyawo Mi’ and explores Igbo for ‘Obim’ featuring Ebuka and Noble Igwe as he offers a domestication of R&B.
‘The Chorus Leader’ is a well-crafted compilation that offers listeners enjoyable records cut from different genres with themes that are personal to Timi Dakolo.
His musical dexterity shines across the album as he delivers elevated genre suitable writings as he combines English, Pidgin, and indigenous language to convey his takes on themes that matter to him.
Dakolo’s superpower is his vocals and they shine across all 17 tracks as he morphs from genre to genre while belting out notes and hitting high keys to elevate each record and give it a stamp of distinction.
Above all, the intentionality to bid his time in creating music that resonates with his state of mind makes for a stellar album that underscores his genius and longevity.
• 0-1.9: Flop
• 2.0-3.9: Near fall
• 4.0-5.9: Average
• 6.0-7.9: Victory
• 8.0-10: Champion
Pulse Rating: /10
Album Sequencing: 1.8/2
Songwriting, Themes, and Delivery: 1.7/2
Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.6/2
TOTAL – 8.5 – Champion