Artiste – Phyno
Album – No Guts No Glory
Features – Omawumi, Flavour, Runtown, M.I, Ice Prince, Efa, Olamide, P-Square, Chigurl & Stormrex
Producers – Major Bangz, Phyno, Wizzy Pro, Chopstix, Phyno & Jay Stuntz
Running Time – 01:07:17
Record Label – Sputnet/Penthauze Records (2014)
Self proclaimed Man of the Year and indigenous hip-hop royalty Phyno Nelson finally sets his debut album “No Guts No Glory” (which is undoubtedly this most anticipated album of 2014) free. The over-lengthy album which is preceded by hit singles “Obago”, “Parcel” and awarding-winning single “Ghost Mode” features many big names in the Nigeria music arena just for presentation.
Coursed to solidify Phyno’s footing in the music industry, NGNG is an LP that oozes attention-demanding attitude, from the art direction to musical content. NGNG might not leave you in the lurch, but it will fail to quench your thirst.
Overall Phyno delivers a solid debut LP slightly weakened by so-so fillers and half baked collaborations, but read our track-to-track review for a broader view:
1. Chibuzo (feat. Stormrex): NGNG opens brilliantly with “Chibuzo” featuring the vocals of over-looked high-life vocalist Stormrex. Although the guest did not sing, she gives an undeniable depth to the track as she assists Phyno who gives insight to the journey of his life thus far over the banging Major Bangz production. “Chibuzo” familiarizes you with Azubuike Chibuzor Nelson.
2. Alobam: Heavy is the perfect word to describe “Alobam”. Slightly inspired by Drake’s Worst Behaviour, the declaratory hip-hop track picks up where the opening track left off, with Phyno’s edgy and attitude packed delivery intact as he shouts out his hommies.
3. O Set (feat. P-Square): Very cheesy but highly infectious and loveable, Phyno dumbs things down on the P-Square assisted “O Set”. This number obviously was crafted with the sole intention of landing a club hit hence the star-power of Africa’s leading duo P-Square was summoned and they did just that. The Wizzy Pro produced song maybe be tagged empty and pointless but it is very needed; “O Set” will cause a frenzy and launch Phyno into international waters if treated as a single.
4. Nme Nme: The pressure to make a high-life song is understandable but “Nme Nme” has no business being anywhere near the tracklist of “No Guts No Glory”. Average at best, the cut proclaims enjoying life yet makes the LP less enjoyable.
5. Man of the Year (Obago): “Obago” is without a doubt one of the best tracks on NGNG. Phyno brags like true hip-hop royalty; he evens digs deep down to his origin as he spits; “…East coast nigga, now I’m banging in the West”. Phyno’s performance on this record is complexly dynamic, mind-blowing and deep; he is truly the man of the year.
6. Chukwu Na Enye (feat. Omawumi): Only God knows why “Chukwu Na Enye” is the sixth track on NGNG, only God. Why place a song with the theme of gratitude and spirituality which will work perfectly as the closing track in-between “Obago” and “Aju”? Was somebody drunk? Secondly Omawumi is a fantastic vocalist but a female with a stronger command of the Igbo language would have done a better job. That said; the cut has its wow moments.
7. Aju (feat. Olamide & Efa): This song was not meant to happen! It lacks the fire felt in previous Phyno collaborations with Olamide like “Dope Money” or the latter’s “Baddest Guy Ever Liveth”; and who let Efa crash the party? As expected Phyno and Olamide let out steam like animals on the super production credited to Major Bangz while Efa struggled as she delivered lines in his native dialect Lokaa, but ultimately failed to rise up to the occasion.
8. Parcel Skit (feat. Chigurl): Skits are key elements of hip-hop/rap albums and Chigurl killed this one to say the least. “Parcel Skit” is refreshing and hilarious on different levels… Awesome!
9. Parcel (A Big Nwa): It is safe to say “Parcel”, “Obago” and “Alobam” are the centre pieces of the album. Major Bangz lays the foundation for yet another big indigenous hip-hop anthem and “Parcel” works perfectly on the dance-floor.
10. Kush Music: “Kush” is cut off the same cloth as the second, fifth and eighth tracks and is almost as good as them. Phyno bravely chants “you don shine your eyes?” in the chorus on the tribal hip-hop song which glorifies “kush”. Obviously the light-skinned rapper bares his love for smoke and getting high in a grand fashion that will influence even a non-smoker to bump to the track.
11. Authe (Authentic) [feat. Flavour]: The authenticity of “Authentic” is to be questioned as international high-life star Flavour who is guest artiste on the groovy mid-tempo ear-candy, laces a hook very similar to Burna Boy’s hook in “Gba Gbe E”. Produced by Jay Stuntz, the song is very similar to “O Set” in aspect of mainstream acceptability, international appeal, radio appeal, getting the party started as well as launching Phyno properly into international waters.
12. Anamachi Versace (feat. Runtown): The highlight of this track is the bumping production, kudos to Wizzy Pro who is also to be blamed of the groovy production of “O Set”. Featuring label-mate Runtown, “Anamachi Versace” is a pretty decent rap song about swag.
13. Good Die Young: A solid rap album is never complete with an emotive, powerful and soulful track and “Good Die Young” does the job on NGNG. Sampling Mavin Gaye’s 1970 hit “Abraham, Martin & John”; Phyno shows a softer side as he talks about his life deeper than he did in “Chibuzo”, touching provoking topics like the death of MC Loph and more. “Good Die Young” is the kind of record that will set Phyno on the path to legend-dom and Major Bangz as a classic hip-hop producer, the production is engaging.
14. Ojigi: “Ojigi” produced by Jay Stuntz is a filler that is hard to digest and easily forgettable.
15. Icholiya (feat. Ice Prince & M.I): Producer Chopstix build a solid foundation for Phyno, Ice Prince and M.I to play on. “Icholiya” sees M.I show flashes of his pre-Chairman days and Ice Prince failing to heat things up with his Aboki rap-style. At end of the day Phyno steals the show nonetheless. Afro hip-hop fans will masturbate to the track.
16. Shey U Know: Songs like this do damage to a beautiful body of musical work. “Shey U Know” is ridiculously poor attempt to create a typical love song. Epic fail!
17. Ghost Mode: “Ghost Mode” is an energetic collaboration that arguably ignited the success of Phyno. Many do not know that the fiery track is produced by Phyno.
18. Holiday (feat. Runtown): NGNG closes is a very dull way. The album which is already too lengthy is dragged to a boring end with a shallow typical eastern tune.
Reviewed by Ogaga Sakpaide [ @Ogagus ]