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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Shallipopi’s Second Album ‘Shakespopi’ Receives Mixed Reviews

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The sophomore album is often considered the litmus test for an artiste’s longevity and creative evolution.

It’s the album that follows the breakout debut, one that either solidifies a musician’s place in the industry or raises questions about their staying power.

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Despite gaining mainstream fame with a six-track EP that boasted four hit singles, Shallipopi proved he had a winning blend of Hip Hop and Amapiano infused with Benin City’s street flair.

Shallipopi’s unique musical approach resonates with fans. Drawing from his cultural heritage and the gritty realities of street life in Benin City, he’s emerged as a voice for those whose experiences and struggles his music reflects.

Shallipopi, the prodigious talent who stormed into the Nigerian music scene with his unique blend of Amapiano and Hip Hop, returned with a streak of his much-anticipated sophomore album, ‘Shakespopi’, on 12 April.

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‘Shakespopi’ has nine songs that last twenty-five minutes in total. Almost all tracks feature Shallipopi alone, except one with four guest artists. It’s his first album of the year 2024 and is visually different from his debut, now with a medieval theme instead of astronauts.

This album follows the breakout success of his 2023 debut, ‘Presido La Pluto,’ which firmly established Shallipopi as a force to be reckoned with in the Afrobeat landscape.

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“Presido La Pluto,” released in 2023, topped the TurnTable Top 50 chart and debuted at number one on Apple Music’s Top 100. His EP, “Planet Pluto,” also from 2023, reached number two on the TurnTable 100 and had six songs on the TurnTable chart.

But does ‘Shakespopi’ live up to the hype and promise of his debut, ‘Presido La Pluto’, or does it fall victim to the dreaded sophomore flop?

As with most second albums, ‘Shakespopi’ faces the daunting challenge of meeting, if not surpassing, the expectations set by its predecessor.

In this review, PREMIUM TIMES dissects the sound, style, lyrics, guest appearances, critical reception, and fan reactions to ‘Shakespopi’ to determine whether Shallipopi has delivered another hit-filled success or succumbed to the sophomore flop.

‘Shakespopi’ style

Upon first listen, ‘Shakespopi’ immediately envelops the listener in Shallipopi’s signature sound: a vibrant fusion of Amapiano rhythms and Hip Hop beats.

The album starts with ‘ASAP’, a track that masterfully samples the work of Edo State legend Sir Waziri Oshomah.

This high-energy opener sets the stage for what listeners might expect from the rest of the album: infectious beats, catchy hooks, and Shallipopi’s unmistakable flow.

However, as the album progresses, it becomes evident that ‘Shakespopi’ leans heavily on familiar territory.

While tracks like ‘ASAP’ and ‘100’ offer catchy beats and memorable hooks, others need more inspired production and lacklustre lyricism.

The album lacks the musical experimentation and growth one would hope to see in a sophomore effort.

Instead, it often feels like a retread of the sound that brought Shallipopi initial success, leaving listeners craving something new and innovative.

Shallipopi
Lyrical Depth

One of Shallipopi’s strengths has always been his ability to weave compelling narratives through his lyrics, offering listeners a glimpse into the realities of street life in Benin City.

However, ‘Shakespopi ‘Needs to capture the depth and authenticity that made his previous work stand out.

This album showcases his strength in creating club anthems, which has become his trademark and main appeal.

The themes primarily revolve around success, street life, and self-celebration, but they need more nuance, storytelling, and emotional resonance than listeners expect from Shallipopi.

However, when it comes to showcasing unmatched artistic depth, the album needs to catch up.

The singer isn’t overly concerned with this aspect. In ‘Shakespopi’, Shallipopi largely sticks to his established formula, delivering tracks with less enthusiasm than before.

Still, there are bright spots with potential standout tracks like ‘100’, ‘High Tension’, and ‘ASAP’.

While tracks like ‘Dey’ and ‘Billion’ attempt to delve into Shallipopi’s journey and the challenges he faces on his rise to stardom, they often need to catch up, coming across as superficial and repetitive.

Shallipopi shows his knack for catchy tunes on the second song, ‘High Tension’. It uses a revamped version of ‘Bella Ciao’, the theme from Money Heist, with Shallipopi singing lines like, “As I move, you can’t see me” and “I keep going.”

He also cleverly plays on his name, saying things like “Shalli is overrated” and “Shalli is underrated.” While the song might have been a bigger hit a few years ago, it still has potential.

The third song, ‘100’, is catchy but less intense than the others. It includes lines like “We’re not enemies, but we’re not friends.” Following this, ‘Dey’ is a bit better. Despite some standout lines like “If I fall, I’ll get back up,” it lacks the impact of the earlier tracks.

The fifth song, ‘Billion’, is upbeat and features four guest artists. It’s a fun celebration of hard work but needs more depth.

‘Find Me’ continues this trend with a slower tempo. Shallipopi mentions Elon Musk and his 2023 hit ‘Elon Musk’. ‘New Cat’ also references a 2023 interview where Davido talked about Burna Boy being the ‘New Cats’ in the music industry. However, it feels like a filler track.

The album seems split into two tracks: ‘Start Am’ and ‘Trees’. In ‘Start Am,’ Shallipopi plays on his name again with lines like “Are you 21 Savage or Tiwa Savage?”

Overall, ‘Shakespopi’ has highs and lows, showcasing Shallipopi’s talent and some missed opportunities.

The album’s lyrics often feel like a missed opportunity to explore deeper themes and offer listeners a more profound connection with Shallipopi’s music.

Double-Edged Sword Collaborations

‘Shakespopi’s lively fifth song, ‘Billion’, features guest verses from Zerrydyl, Reesha, Tega Boi DC, and Jeneral, injecting some much-needed variety and energy into the album.

However, these collaborations sometimes overshadow Shallipopi’s contributions, leaving listeners questioning whether he’s been outshined on his record.

It’s a spirited tribute to hard work but doesn’t offer much else.

While tracks like ‘Billion’ and ‘ASAP’ benefit from the diverse voices and styles of the guest artists, Shallipopi’s verses on other tracks need to be more robust and inspired in comparison, casting doubts on his ability to maintain his presence alongside these talented collaborators.

A Mixed Bag Critical Reception

‘Shakespopi’ has ignited various reactions from fans and critics alike. While some applaud the album’s infectious beats, catchy hooks, and danceable tracks, others criticise its lack of originality, growth from Shallipopi’s previous work, and repetitive lyricism.

Online discussions and social media buzz reflect this divide, with fans debating whether ‘Shakespopi’ is a sophomore flop or another hit-filled success.

Some fans have voiced disappointment with the album, citing its lack of musical innovation, uninspired production, and shallow lyrics as significant shortcomings.

Others have commended Shallipopi’s growth as an artist and his ability to deliver undeniably catchy and enjoyable tracks despite their flaws.

Dami Dawson gave his review on X, stating, “Shallipopi’s Shakespopi lacks originality; it sounds lazy & uninspiring. Even with the chart success & celebrity endorsements from guys like Big Wiz, the album doesn’t meet expectations.”

Nuel ‘Waziri’ Okoro @BughiLorde also shared “, Perhaps the best quality of ‘Shakespopi’ is that, like Shallipopi, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, thus possessing an incredible replay value and impressive shelf life when set on mute.”

NoStanZone tweeted, “His previous album was more successful, but this was a hard listen after less than six months. It would be good if I could keep ALL the verses and delete the hooks and choruses on Shallipopi’s Album. But what would be left of the project, right?! The verses were just his swag and the regular Shalipopi’s cadences.”

TiAEsound posted, “For everyone who has a criticism of Shallipopi’s latest album, keep at it. BUT keep it at that “just the album.” As an artist, he’s still one of the few authentic ones out there. Half the artists today are mirroring the other half. “

Verdict

In conclusion, ‘Shakespopi’ raises questions about Shallipopi’s evolution as a musician and his ability to navigate the challenges of the sophomore album.

The album is a sophomore flop, and it doesn’t powerfully showcase Shallipopi’s artistic depth, but it highlights his stage presence.

Yet, even this showmanship doesn’t elevate the album to being truly engaging, which isn’t surprising given his current skill level.

Ultimately, Shallipopi is capitalising on the momentum his previous success has given him. While many feel he might be stretching his luck with this approach, some aren’t shocked, believing this is the best he can naturally produce, no matter how hard he attempts to improve.

While it also offers glimpses of his musical prowess and streetwise charm, the album falls short of the high expectations set by ‘Presido La Pluto’.

The album’s reliance on familiar sounds and themes, coupled with its lack of musical experimentation and growth, feels like a missed opportunity for Shallipopi to push boundaries and establish a more distinct and mature sound.

However, despite its shortcomings, ‘Shakespopi’ still has moments of brilliance and undeniable charm, reminding listeners of Shallipopi’s undoubted talent and potential.

Whether ‘Shakespopi’ will be remembered as a misstep in Shallipopi’s career or a necessary stepping stone towards greater musical heights remains to be seen. Regardless of its reception, one thing is clear:

Shallipopi is a talent to watch, and his journey in Afrobeats is far from over.

‘Shakespopi’ is rated 5/10.

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