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ALBUM REVIEW: Even In the Face of Amapiano, Dauntless CDQ Retains the Street Culture of Nigerian Indigenous Hip Hop on Vibes and Lifestyle.

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Vibes and Lifestyle cover art.

CDQ has been a name in the heart of music lovers since the success of Indomie, the smash hit that catapulted the rapper into the Nigerian music scene in 2014. Before the release of Indomie alongside Olamide, and its remix with Davido, CDQ was signed to General Records by the iconic producer known as Masterkraft in 2013. This happened after the indigenous rapper won a rap battle at the Industry Nite a year before.

CDQ who had his Secondary School education in Ilorin as an indigene of Kwara State moved to Orile, Agege in Lagos to start a career in music. His career started professionally as a backup singer for the late indigenous rapper, Dagrin. He went on to rap alongside MI in English Language. It is amusing to know that the stage name CDQ came from his birth name, Sodiq. The 36 years old Hip Hop act is originally named Sodiq Abubakar Yusuf.

At a point, CDQ had to quit music for schooling. He graduated from the University of Lagos with a degree in Economics. Fulfilling his father’s wish, he wrote an application to FCMB and Diamond bank and he got a job as a banker in one of the two banks. Masterkraft would later call CDQ to remind him to follow his passion which is music after a week of securing the banking job.

In an interview held around 2015, CDQ confessed he left his banking job to pursue music at the death of his father. While Mayorkun too had abandoned his banking job just like CDQ, there are also others like Tems who have resigned an office job to concentrate on their natural talent.

After his graduation from Unilag, CDQ and his team had gone on a two-day vacation in Kwara. He reportedly met with the Emir of Ilorin and discussed helping Secondary School students solve problems relating to the lack of writing materials. This philanthropic act reportedly extended to everywhere in Kwara State.

Sodiq Abubakar Yusuf (CDQ).

As it stands in CDQ’s beautiful career so far, the rapper has a total of four projects in his discography. He had released Nowo E Soke as the lead single for his debut album titled Quality in 2016. His sophomore album titled Ibile Mugabe followed in 2018, the only EP in his discography being a project influenced by MI’s pun on CDQ’s name on a 2019 diss track (The Viper) directed at fellow rapper, Vector; CDQ’s only EP is titled See the Queue, a pun for his own stage name. This particular album, Vibes and Lifestyle, is his fourth project since his breakthrough in 2014.

Vibes and Lifestyle whose cover art bears a carving of CDQ’s face consists of 14 tracks, and 2 formerly released tracks on See the Queue serving as the bonus tracks that make it 16. The carving of CDQ on the art reflects the two sides of the artiste’s personality represented in gold and silver. The gold is the “Vibe” while the silver is the “Lifestyle”. Both are precious and are essential parts of CDQ’s existence as an artiste.

Masterkraft, JayPizzle, Citiboi, Ozedikus, Orbeat and Dhecade are employed as producers on the album. Vibes and Lifestyle is released under the No Struggle No Success Entertainment, a label established by CDQ in 2016.

The track that should make it 17 was removed by CDQ because Davido, the featured act, already has more than 40 collaborations from artistes both home and abroad in 2021. This was necessary to actualize scarcity and regards for the singer. This is why his verse on Wande Coal’s Come My Way was removed too. CDQ may have to wait to release E Get Why featuring Davido in the coming year.

Vibes and Lifestyle tracklist.

Who is CDQ, delivered in Pidgin, English and Yoruba, is a revelation of what the rapper represents, staying “focused on my lane”. After introducing himself as a rapper who drips of money and affluence, the rapper reminds everyone that “I would rather die as ibile” — Ìbílè is a Yoruba word for being indigenous. It is a recent norm for Nigerian rappers to abandon Hip Hop for Afrobeats for commercial success, but CDQ categorically states he is not in the league of such low esteemed rappers who do such.

There are highlights of his struggles on the street, his father dying, him laboring for bricklayers and conducting passengers in commercial vehicles etc. By grinning like the late rapper, CDQ pays tribute to Dagrin at his entry on the first verse of the track. There is a shot fired at Akute too. Akute is a ghetto-like locality under Ifo Local Government, Ogun State.

The introductory Hip Hop gives way for the up-tempo Keep On Rocking. Wande Coal sexualizes his lyrics here, intentionally thickening his voice, with CDQ dropping bars reflective of street lingua franca. Amusingly, CDQ highlights a major norm in the language of his people, the Ilorin people. Ilorin people are known to include “fa” at the end of every speech they make. This is what CDQ means when he asks “sé omo Ìlorin ni é ni tó lo n fà fà fà?” (Are you an indigene of Ilorin, that you are fà fà fà?). This is a pun for smoking (fà) and the “fà” as always used in speech made by Ilorin people.

A “hoe,” as used on Bahamas, is a pun for a farm implement and a sexually naughty lady — on Bahamas, CDQ woos a lady with street pick-up lines. This is crazy! CDQ speaks English fluently, but he shuns that here and chooses to be himself. It’s a matter of you either take me as I am or otherwise.

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Promises are laid on CDQ’s lines, The Bahamas, a country in North America, being the destination if she accepts the rapper’s proposal. Even “Naomi Campbell” never had this beauty! Wetly, the featured act, complements CDQ’s attempts. However, Masterkraft’s presence is absolutely felt towards the closure of the song when the producer begins to play a soulful piano tune on the Dancehall song.

CDQ

Cross IV shuns questions about his being, with CDQ using an adlib that rides on the pop culture, “má fejó pamí” (don’t kill me with talks) on Slow Down. According to CDQ and Cross IV, “I’ve been living too fast” like the “logo” of the sports known as “Polo” — that’s a horse! There is a need to slow down, but how can this be possible when this Trap song itself is fast? The featured act’s falsetto is noteworthy though!

Slow Down simply proves that the best way to avoid the unnecessary pressures from family, friends and the society is to shun pressure-mounting questions about one’s living and pace (whether fast or slow).

CDQ swings back to romance on Omoka. While the rapper sounds warning to his rivals not to DM his lover, the Tanzanian featured act, Ben Pol, takes the chorus in Swahili, his native tongue. Omoka, the title of the song, is a Swahili verb that means “get rich”. This song is a Reggae-Dancehall with an Afrobeats feel.

The love atmosphere continues to hold sway on the up-tempo Afrobeats, Addicted. Jaywillz delivers lines expressive of love on the first verse and the chorus. CDQ strictly maintains Pidgin and Yoruba on the second verse. Wande Coal, too, comes to the party with the best of his vocals as opposed to the thickness of it we heard on track 2, Keep on Rocking. CDQ’s rhyme scheme is top-notch with lines like “mo ti gbóròyìn lówó Sylvester/O máa n jékí star repeat semester” (I have heard about you from Sylvester/You make a star repeat every semester) etc.

On an instrumental that is almost a replica of Nowo E Soke featuring Wizkid in 2016, CDQ goes solo for dominance sake on Puff Puff Pass. The beat also samples a popular DJ tune that dominated DJ mixes during the lockdown in 2020. The street is represented with slangs and the smoking culture, Sunny Nweke acknowledged while the rest of the beat which is supposed to be for the second verse is wasted.

“Puff puff pass” is a common slang or phrase used in multiple ways in the cannabis industry. The most common usage of the phrase refers to someone taking two puffs off a marijuana joint before passing it to someone else. Though CDQ is cryptic with his lyrics on the verses of Puff Puff Pass, lines like “àwon omo léyìn Sàngó ti wolé”, “Kalakuta”, “wéwé”, “àwon omo eléwé” are terminologies relating to cannabis intake.

Ìbílè Mugabe (CDQ)

While “àwon omo léyìn Sàngó” is a reference to the worshippers of Sàngó, the Yoruba god of thunder, it is contextually a metaphor for smokers. After all, Sàngó and his wirshippers are associated with fire, smoke, lightning and thunder. A strict warning is issued to the “ògbèrì” (novices) to turn back while the “awo” (the experts in the smoking cult) can enter.

Kalakuta is the landmark carrying the legacy of Fela. However, Kalakuta as used by CDQ, is a reference to a building where smokers carry out their activities; “ewé/ojà” (leaf/market) being symbols for marijuana, cannabis or heroin.

Caution, track 8, captures the violence between CDQ and Burna Boy at a club in Lagos months ago. CDQ was reportedly stabbed by Burna Boy’s camp in the fight — although Burna Boy denied this claim. CDQ had called Burna Boy out on social media, referring to him as a “gi-ant” and not a “giant”. According to CDQ, Burna had disrespected Obagoal (Obafemi Martins) at a club in Lagos.

These ganging, clubbing and violence all characterize the song Caution as CDQ lyrically displays the street-life of partying, ganging and violence in reference to “Awawa” boys. He addresses this to Orile, Agege, a part of Lagos so known for violence and street unrest. Caution is a warning to troublemakers to stay away or end up in Alagbon (a Nigerian prison). There is reference to Kizz Daniel’s Fly Boy tag, with CDQ claiming he (CDQ) flies higher than anyone.

Foseto is an alteration of the word falsetto. CDQ loses his morality completely as he emphatically describes sex on Foseto. The opening line of his first verse metaphorically refers to the female breasts as “òrònbó àyà” (oranges of the chest). There is a reference to threesome when he mentions “ègbón àti àbúrò” (both siblings).

Falsetto is a method of voice production used by male singers, especially tenors, to sing notes higher than their normal range. So when CDQ says “o ma pariwo bí i foseto” (you will shout like falsetto), he is referring to the moan of the woman during sex. In what seems like a surprise for the rapper, CDQ begs the woman not to damage the “condom”.

The French statement, “cava bien merci” (I’m fine, thank you) is creatively replaced with “sapa bien merci” on Flabbergasted, track 10. It’s crazy how CDQ reasons! This is art! Sapa is a Nigerian slang that means being broke. Flabbergasted itself captures the extravagant living that characterizes club life in reference to lavishly spending on expensive hard drinks like “Azul”, “Hennessy” and “Heineken”.

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Here, CDQ draws a sharp contrasts between him and his rivals in the industry, using the difference between TASUED, a university in Ijebu, Ogun State, and LASU, another university in Lagos, as a point of reference.

On Celebrate, CDQ assumes the work of a motivational speaker as he assures his listeners that the “work must to pay” and celebration is imminent. To him, “throwback” or talking about past achievements is “sour” and totally unnecessary. His focus is on the next achievable things. There are mentions of attempts to subdue him, coming from his enemies too.

CDQ returns to the street again on Kogbede. This is the third and the last time Wande Coal is appearing on Vibes and Lifestyle. Kogbede is a Yoruba word used to mockfully refer to people who don’t understand Yoruba. Kogbede appears to be the biggest song on the project. It is an Amapiano song that centres around street life and its everyday energetic slangs formation.

There are several allusions to ghetto features like “sokudalaye” (a kind of illegal street drink hawked), “Egun” (used to mean Kogbede too), “shakabula” (a gun), “actor”, “boss”, “phoneh” (English grammar) etc. Wande Coal’s efforts are reduced to a short verse and ad-libs only, and his lines are hardly “street” and energetic when compared to CDQ’s. This is the third time the self- acclaimed Mugabe is mentioning Ozumba on the album.

While CDQ rates the ghettos of Lagos in Ejigbo, Orile, Mushin, Lagos Island, Ikorodu, Elegushi, Epe, Agege, Ibeju Lekki, a part of Ogun State known as Akute, is downplayed and underrated. This is the second instance this is happening on Vibes and Lifestyle. At this point, one begins to wonder what exactly is CDQ’s problem with the people of Akute.

Sunny Nweke is acknowledged again. There is hardly a CDQ song on which you will not hear him mention Sunny Nweke. If you wonder who Sunny Nweke is, Sunny Nweke is his producer, the producer that produced the hit that procliamed him to the industry in 2014 (Indomie), the producer that gave him his first record deal, the producer that gave him his first album (Quality). The producer, Sunday Ginikachukwu Nweke or Sunny Nweke is the same person called Masterkraft. CDQ is forever indebted to him — it is evident.

Sunny Nweke (Masterkraft)

Tekiller continues CDQ’s Amapiano exploration, but this time, with a more subtle and less violent topic; sexual fantasies; hence “this buddy is a killer”. CDQ creatively describes a feminine physique with x-rated metaphors. According to him, the lady’s physical appearance intoxicates like the drink known as “tekiller”.

The Amapiano sound does not change still on Dollars and Pounds, track 14. This track is particularly notable for CDQ’s controversial use of pun as noticed in the following lines “e fún mi ní Dollar àti Pounds/Kò ní da fún ìyá Naira” (give me Dollar and Pounds, it shall not be well with Naira’s mother). This points to the rapper’s disregard for Naira as a currency with less value when juxtaposed with Dollar and Pounds.

However, these lines are capable of instigating another feud if Naira Marley takes it personal. This is exactly what caused the fight between Terry G and Mallam Spicy. CDQ too once got angry at MI back in 2019 because the latter used his name on a diss track, The Viper, meant for Vector.

MI had mentioned Mode 9, Eldee, Olamide, Dagrin, Reminisce, YCee and Falz, using the pun “see the queue” (a reference to CDQ) to link the fact that Vector is not in the top 5 of Yoruba rappers. By extension, CDQ himself, was left outside the list, with his name used as a punchline instead. CDQ would later respond on a cover of Reminisce’s OGB4IG, claiming MI was irrelevant. Dollars and Pounds features Hameen, another indigenous rapper.

CDQ Olowo.

The two tracks, Moyan and Could Have Been Worse, are taken off See the Queue, his 2020 extended playlist. While the Amapiano, Moyan (to be influential), captures the same ghetto lifestyle (sex, drugs, ganging, prostitution, partying, slangs etc) seen on the previous tracks on the album, Could Have Been Worse on the other hand, a Trap closing the album, uncovers a grateful CDQ who reminisces about his past life and feels nothing more than appreciation. The rapper uses his story as a motivation for others in the second verse.

Vibes and Lifestyle re-establishes CDQ as a flagbearer of street Hip Hop in Nigeria. One is particularly dumbstruck by CDQ’s expertise at using pun, punchlines that nearly put him in trouble on track 14. CDQ is so conversant with the street that he mentions a lot of ghettos in and outsude Lagos. His use of slangs and proverbs are hilarious but real too.

However, each time he warns his enemies, he employs violence as seen in his lines on Vibes and Lifestyle. Notwithstanding, one thing is certain on this project, music is CDQ’s vibes while street life is his lifestyle. Most importantly, CDQ lives the cliche “we rise by lifting others” by majorly featuring unknown artistes and giving them a platform on this project, Wande Coal being the only established act to appear on it.

Written by samgeorgemac

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