May 10, 2012

Album Review: Tunde Olaniran "The First Transgression"

A worldly half-Nigerian synth-rock rapper, Tunde Olaniran has spent the last few years rubbing shoulders with greats like Kanye West and R. Kelly, honing his craft and getting ready to break into big things. For fans of hip-hop and RnB, the man who calls Flint, Michigan his home is a hidden gem but could very well take the entire genre by storm. After listening to his first solo album, The First Transgression released July 15, 2011, it's clear to see that this unique individual has no intention of conforming to where the music scene is today, but is jumping right into where the music scene is going to be in a few years time. To those who listen to his sick beats, welcome to the future.

1) "Cobra" - The world may not be ready for Tunde Olaniran's imaginative, artsy music video, but "Cobra" is a rocking track. Kicks the album off right and is so hard to compare to anything. I don't know where the comparison comes from, but for some reason I think of The-Dream's work. Not something I can articulate, but that's who comes to mind (probably because I'm no hip-hop aficionado. Maybe Black Eyed Peas would have been closer given the techno feel). The song stands out to me particularly for the great line "white flag in my left, gun in my right hand." That's some powerful imagery and a picture is worth 1,000 words. Track is a little long at 5:08, but it's an enjoyable five minutes. 5 /5.

2) "User Manual" - Heavy on the synth, like Depeche Mode hitting the clubs in 2012. While the lyrics may not be as strong as Cobra (and that's hard to say as a comic book nerd about a song referencing Kryptonite), the overall sound is still infectious and makes me want to replay the track again and again. The song is definitely uplifted by rapper Miz Korona (not to be confused the The Miz) who brings a slick, speedy delivery over a jazzy new wave hybrid backdrop. 4 / 5.

3) "Tiger Balm" - This would make for a fun soundtrack song. Telling the tale of a hero on the rise, ready to save us all from evil. I can picture a movie/TV trailer of a vigilante going for extensive jogs, hitting a punching bag, then cut to giving evil henchmen Judo flips over his shoulder and Bruce Lee thrust kicks. I think the music is a little unfleshed out however and would have been stronger had it been either been more upbeat ala "Eye of the Tiger" or more aggressive, like... anything by The Prodigy. Still pretty good, 4 / 5.

4) "Cobra (Chris De Luca Remix)" - Teaming with Chris De Luca made this song very different from the original version. Originally, when I read on Tunde Olaniran's website, "Berlin's Chris De Luca", I assumed Chris De Luca was a member of the New Wave 80's band known for "Take My Breath Away". Not so much. He's actually a rapper from Berlin, Germany, which was probably a more reasonable guess of me to make over a band from thirty years ago. Sadly, this remix doesn't take my breath away, as it really killed the great music that was used in the background of the original. I'm not sure what kind of sound the duo were going for with this remix, but it sounds like something you would have heard on the cartoon, Rugrats. 3 / 5.

My Highlights:
"Cobra" should definitely be checked out by everybody, even if you don't dig the music video.

Overall Rating:
A strong debut solo album for Tunde Olaniran, who calls The First Transgression the first in a series of five EPs. The album is very affordable and not a dangerous investment for someone looking for exciting new music to make. If Tunde Olaniran keeps his nose to the grind, he has a ton of a potential. The fact that this was his first solo album shows promise that as good as he was here, he's only going to get better. Averaging all the ratings together, the overall score for this album:

4 / 5

image from Amazon

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