‘The prodigal’ by Mr P – Album review

Singer, producer, Peter Okoye, aka Mr P, has finally released his debut solo album since he parted ways with his twin brother, Paul Okoye, aka Rude Boy. 

The 39-year-old kicked off his solo career with singles like ‘Ebeano’, ‘Karma’, ‘My Way’, and ‘One More Night’ where he featured Niniola.

Reminiscing on when I first listened to Mr P sing alongside his brother Rude Boy when the pair was P- Square, you could argue there was hardly any better duo in the industry- no group had ever complemented each other that well since I knew Nigerian music. 

They constantly gave us that R Kelly and Usher; ‘Same Girl’ experience and everyone loved them.

Peter nor Paul may not have been prolific lyricists like Usher and R Kelly but, you cannot dispute the impact they had on Nigerian music. 

Their ‘Game Over’ album will remain one of the most iconic albums to ever be straight out of Naija. However, times have passed now, and boys have become men, or so they say.

For all the reasons we loved Peter and Paul Okoye, if one thing is certain since their split, it is that both have failed to reach those heights they once reached as P-Square. 

I understand not too many terrific duos or bands separate and go on to enjoy individual commercial success but, I expect their music to mature.

That said, The Prodigal consists of 16 tracks, with hit singles such as ‘Follow My Lead’ and ‘Just Like That’ released earlier to create hype for the project. 

The album features the likes of Simi, Tiwa Savage, Wande Coal, American R&B star Tamar Braxton to mention but a few.

Asides sounding like it was sampled off one of P-Square’s project in ‘Invasion’, ‘Odo’, the opening song of the album welcomes you nicely to the experience with its blend of contemporary RNB and Afro Pop with nice vocals to go. I know lyrics have never been Peter’s strength but, this one takes the length of a rap song. Perhaps he (Mr P) was enjoying the sound in this one a tad too much and I do not blame him. You can’t not miss P-Square, even if you’re them.

A fusion of Afrobeat, Pop, and R&B, ‘Paloma’ is the second track in the album and features upcoming artist, Singah. The vocals were enjoyable, Singah’s especially, but the sound and lyrics again, fail to inspire. 

I however liked ‘I DO’, the duet with Tiwa Savage. Savage’s vocals were charming and soulful- both artists complemented each other well and the rhythm was fresh and dynamic enough to have your mind invested in the song.

However, is it only me, or did ‘Boyfriend’ have the feel of a sequel to ‘Paloma’? One major problem with this album is that all the songs sound alike, save for a few standouts. 

‘Just Like That’, was released earlier as one of the lead singles in the album. The Hip Hop/dancehall banger features Congolese-Swedish musician, Mohombi, and while it stands out from the rest of the songs, all I could remember while playing this one was a P-Square’s ‘Busy Body’ remix featuring Weird MC.

Again, ‘I Love You’ features three power houses: Simi, Teni, and Tamar Braxton. Surely, you’d expect more from such a star-studded song but, while it doesn’t overly disappoint, Mr P might have a difficult time convincing listeners he’s the genuine owner of the song, Honestly. 

The singer and songwriter must be a huge fan of the TV show ‘Paloma and Diego’ to have referenced them twice in separate songs, maybe it was Singah. I can’t quite differentiate the message from both songs anyway.

‘Follow My Lead’ features Wande Coal and arguably presents us with the most standout sound and refrain to chant. It had Wande Coal written all over it though and might just prove the best song in the album. Wande never disappoints.

For a 16-track album, there aren’t many talking points. Maybe this is because of the consistently similar sound, lyrics, and delivery. We have a lot of things on our plates right now, and Mr P just somehow managed to miss all of that in favour of his consistent love themed lyrics. I find it bold and daring.

It seems Mr P is really invested in his old ways and hasn’t really evolved after several years of working solo. 

Certainly, late GenY kids- people born in the 80’s and 90’s, constitutes the majority of his fanbase. I do wonder how this project might appeal to them given that we have different lenses through which we see the world now, and the songs in ‘The Prodigal’ are invariably consistent with P-Squares’ old ideas of RNB and love songs. It may just be the proverbial phrase “if something works for you, why change it?” at play here.

I reckon this album would be the one to reaffirm his rank and value in the industry as one of the pioneers of the Nigerian music that we’ve come to know and enjoy today and help him reconnect with fans, this time, as a solo artist. 

Nevertheless, it just feels like the 39-year-old is driving us down the path of regurgitation. If this was supposed to solidify his stance as a solo artist and make us look beyond his P-Square days, ‘The Prodigal’ has only largely succeeded in making it more difficult to avoid pondering if breaking up P-Square and setting off on this solo-adventure was the right idea. 

Make no mistake, diehard fans will still enjoy this. And we hope to see more from Mr P in the future.

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