There is a difference between boastful talk and confident talk despite the thin line that separate them. The striking evidence that usually separate the two is the product or action that is presented after the talk. The expression, ‘if you talk big, you need to back it up’ becomes the star one need to aim and shoot at.
Since emerging on the mainstream music scene in 2015, off the back of his crowd pulling, trap moulded single IDKY (I Don’t Know You), AYAT (who can forget that epic performance at the 2015 edition of Sabolai Radio?), has seen his stock peak; his confidence shoot up; and the pressure to prove he is not a one-hit wonder, enormous.
The music scene has witnessed a lot of incidence where promising acts crash and burn after just a single song. Others linger on for a while then fade into the ‘one-hit’ chamber of our memories. Amidst the pressure, AYAT kept telling all that he’s not going to crash and burn. Neither is he going to be filed into the one-hit wonder vault. IDKY was that single he needed to break through the door of notice.
To be accepted means releasing more songs that won’t only rival IDKY but topple it in terms of influence. And for the past year, that’s been the mindset of the Madina based rapper. The end result is the release of his debut EP, ZAMANI. The ten track EP was released online on Friday (17th March) after holding an online listening session a day before.
Working with four of the best producers around- Kuvie, Magnom Beats, Manny Beatz and Kayso, who produced 90% of the EP- and two featured guest -Sarkodie and Ria Boss, AYAT unleashed a solid project on our heads.
Here is a track by track review of the ZAMANI EP
IRON BOY (Intro) (Prod by KaySo)
Unsurprising to hear AYAT speak on the challenges faced by underground artiste and how the contentious issue of featuring underground artistes by mainstream artistes or event organizers putting underground acts for exposure purposes is nonsense ‘because studio time dey cost and exposure no be pay’. Singing entirely through this taut, laid back, piano filled trap beat from the boards of KaySo, he keeps reminding us that ‘he has been hungry for far too long’ (which could be a double entendre-success and real hunger). The Rex Omar ‘ di da da di di’ sample infused into the beat is clearly one that sticks in your head.
PANIE (Prod by KaySo X NXRTH)
Shared production credits between KaySo and NXRTH (Villain Sounds). The title is a reference to a popular Daddy Lumba tune. A true story (if the comment from the beginning holds true). AYAT croons about his debauchery exploits following a hook up between him and a girl whose Whatsapp DP got his attention. You can’t title a song like ‘Dr. Panie’ and not sound unapologetically raunchy.
ANTASHIMUSU (UP) (Prod by KaySo)
This song is strictly addressing the haters, naysers and the doubters who did not believe in him. AYAT didn’t mince his words as evidenced by the opening intro: ‘we are nearing 2018, yet you still rap like you are in 2015 with your childish raps’. Switching between Hausa and English, he declares ‘they can’t defeat us cos God got us’. The song oozes with vigour and the bounce on the beat is crazy. Listening to the song conjured an imagine of @effthedj raving without any inhibitions to this jam. If IDKY got you moving, Antashimusu will definitely bring out your worst behaviour.
PLAY FOR KEEPS (Prod by Kuvie)
One of the singles dropped last year to resounding acclaim, Play For Keeps is a love song on which AYAT, singing in both Hausa, Twi and English, confesses his love to his girl: ‘the fuck boy ways have been ditched since you came my way’. The afro-trap beat accompanying this tune is exquisite and groovy. It passes as one of the best beats off the catalogue of Kuvie- sonically. The 808s slap hard, the xylophones hands the beat extra flavor with AYAT reminding his lover that she’s the only one whether the hard times or good times come.
DAWA (Interlude) (Prod by KaySo)
‘Why didn’t AYAT make a full track out of this?’ is the question I have been asking since I heard this track. The message on the song is simple: Get out there and grind. AYAT reminds the youth: ‘there’s no time to waste when you wake, get to work and make some money’ over a mild-tempo beat. In short, to survive, one’s daily hustle should never be in vein. Dawa is the song you play with the rising of the morning, to inspire you for the day’s task. What comes to mind listening is J.Cole’s ‘Mo’ Money’ (off Born Sinner). ‘Money Apree!!’ is the new anthem!
MAD CITY/ OH LORD (Prod. By KaySo)
This is a two part tune with the first part ‘MadCity’, is an ode to his hometown of Madina where the people are ‘spartans in the city’. Switching between singing and rapping, AYAT itemizes the reasons why Madina is such a ‘Mad city’-a city that doesn’t accommodate the weak. Only the strong survives. On ‘Oh Lord, the minimalistic beat-soft thumping drums and high hats- gives way to robust trap beats with AYAT praying for blessings in life: My vision 20/20 but my Gucci cost 500’. The only reservation I have against this track AYAT choosing not to sing throughout MadCity but dropped in a rap verse which quiet didn’t cut it for me. And it was good to hear him shouting the likes of M.anifest and Blitz The Ambassador, notable rappers who hail from Madina. AYAT is, indeed in good company.
DODO feat Sarkodie (Prod by Magnom Beatz)
One of the singles released during the latter part of the year. ‘Dodo’ (which translate as ‘Monster’ in the Hausa language) has AYAT at his aggressive best. His voice is coarse, striking against the Magnom produced beats to great effect. He outlines his ambitions in the rap game ‘this year I go dance with the stars’. This song is definitely within the comfort zone of AYAT. Whiles promoting the release of this song, AYAT deliberately kept out the fact that he had Sarkodie on the track. So, it came as a surprise hearing Sark not only drop a verse but validating AYAT: ‘thank you for taking me back/back to the essence of rap/first time I hear your track your style got me like fuck’.
MUNZO (prod by KaySo)
‘When we step in the town with my people/ Munzo’. This surely is a banger. The melody is wicked, the groove is crisp and the song, wavy. Munzo, a hausa word which means ‘we’re here’ or we have arrived’ is a party statement with easy to sing along hook. You need to get your dance steps right when this tune drops.
CHANGES (Prod by KaySo)
You can relate to this song better if you’ve woken up at a place which isn’t your home after a night out. AYAT goes back to singing about a wild night out with details still hazy. All he knows is that ‘I’ve been here before/but this no bi home/cos the bed no be comfy/ and these girls no be wifey’. Ria Boss with soulful and tingling rendition, still reeling from her hangover, wants answers to the previous night’s rendezvous: ‘the nights are all blank/can’t remember it all’, after the henny (Hennessey) hit her lips. The trap soul beat on this track is the kind Bryson Tiller would love to hop on.
TAKE OFF (Outro) (Prod by Manny Beatz)
Her, AYAT lays bare his ambitions and success in the rap game despite his relatively short time (even though he has been rapping for a while under the name Billy Banger). Highlighting his collaborative efforts with some big name acts such as EL, Edem and Sarkodie, AYAT tells all ‘I’m gon take off tonight’ to the land of many success.
The ZAMANI EP has really lived up to its expectation boasting of crisp production, good lyrics, spirited delivery and of course, jams for days. AYAT, whose name means ‘proof’ or ‘miracle’ has, indeed, lived up to his name. And naming the EP ZAMANI-which translate as new era or generation- AYAT is ushering us into a new dawn, a new place where good lyrics could marry awesome trap beats in a beautiful way.