Review: Mavin Records’ Chapter X, a cliche with no climax

Established on 8th May, 2012, to bring the jointly owned Mo’ Hits to a closure, Mavin Records operated as a label with Wande Coal, D Prince, Dr. Sid, Don Jazzy and Tiwa Savage as founding members. Certainly, the newly released Chapter X rolled out to mark its decade of existence in the music space is not the first of its kind. The first ever album jointly released by Mavin Records as an entity is Solar Plexus on the first day the label was unveiled in 2012.

First generation Mavin Records.
First generation Mavin Records.

Don Jazzy took over every production work on the 13-track project but unfortunately, the album received heavy unfavorable criticisms from major music critics, including proclamations such as the album being “rushed to meet up with the label launch”, the album putting Don Jazzy in a position to shine as a producer while his artistes flopped in their aim at fluidity as well as the album being Don Jazzy’s “weakest” output ever. However, D Prince’s Take Banana came out as the album’s lead single and the biggest hit of the project.

The label got its official disc jockey in the person of DJ Big N in 2014. DJ Big N introduced the factual saying, “when you are big, you are big”. 2014 ushered in the second generation of artistes and producers at the dynasty or what is generally called the Mavin Records, and by surprise, DJ Big N is the only second-generation Mavin Records artiste that is still signed under the label in the current third generation.

Second generation Mavin Records.

With Wande Coal parting ways to establish his renowned Black Diamond, D Prince starting up with Jonzing Records which now houses Ruger, Tiwa Savage abandoning her crown as the first lady of the dynasty, Dija making a decision that completely reshaped her career to a detrimental size, Korede Bello fading out, Reekado Banks embracing independence, Dr Sid leaving the center stage for the obscured, Iyanya signing a ridiculous deal with the Mavin, perhaps the shortest record label spell for an artiste in the history of African music; Mavin Records would look to regain its lost talents with a third generation of artistes like Rema, DNA twins, Ladipoe, Ayra Starr, Johnny Drille, Magixx, Crayon, Boy Spyce and Bayanni. Note that each of the three generations has only one female each.

Third generation Mavin Records.

Sadly, the last generation saw Wande Coal retire to an “egbon adugbo” sort of artiste, hailed and respected by everyone for his experience and previous wonders in the game, with some collaborations that may not be necessary or relevant any longer in the game; Tiwa Savage gradually losing her flamboyant grasps of music too; of course, the idea that Wizkid’s savagery brought Dija’s career to an untimely end is there and fresh, but no one will ever find the fact that Dija took a very long break from music for the sake of family and domesticity; since her return, she has struggled to win back the acceptance of the promiscuous music lovers in Nigeria; Korede Bello’s career that started on a very high speed has suddenly slowed down and nobody except him can explain why: just like Dija and Reekado Banks, he has tried his possible best with occasional releases, but to no avail; Reekado Banks’ change in appearance is up for investigation: following the ridicule from Wizkid and Burna Boy in 2020; the singer went into hiding and returned with weight loss, leaving fans to suggest he battled depression, and guessing-ly, drug abuse.

Each member of the third generation, except the DNA twins, has individually recorded moments of excellence. However, it is unclear why, when or how these twins stopped being a Mavin Records member.

More recently, two different allegations have been levelled against Don Jazzy and the Mavin Records entirely. There was a recent upsurge about streams manipulation on DSPs, and many social media users pointed the label a prime suspect. Perhaps, some critics still wonder how the Won Da Mo song labelled “unappealing” reached the no. 1 position on NG Apple in the space of three days.

The second would be the sentiment that this third generation of the label comprises artistes that sound alike. While you can agree that there are some similarities in the sounds of Magixx, Boy Spyce and Bayanni or that 6 out of the 8 artistes that make up the label do proper Afrobeats: what about Ladipoe, the rapper, and Johnny Drille, the RnB singer?

Mavin Records’ Chapter X art.

Firstly, Mavin Records’ Chapter 10 album symbolically amplifies the 10 years journey on which the label has sailed. Artistically but intentionally, 10 vocalists must donate vocals on some 10 tracks for the success of this project. They are: Don Jazzy, DJ Big N, Ladipoe, Johnny Drille, Rema, Ayra Starr, Crayon, Magixx, Boy Spyce and Bayanni.

10 tracks unevenly divided into 70% love pieces and 30% braggadocio. This piece, to the dissatisfaction of the listener, is way too dominated by individual excellence than the collectiveness it is supposed to represent.

The moment of awe on this decagon of a project is a snapshot of Johnny Drille in two different instances; a grandeur tied to mature lyricism and experienced musicality expressed by Johnny Drille on All I’m Saying and Losing You. Moreover, one may be tempted to think it is so because of the serenity associated with RnB which is Drille’s forte. But then, we hear the same Drille on the outro of Alle and Won Da Mo, and he is vindicated.

The spark of this project also revolves around Boy Spyce’s exuberance. His verses on All I’m Saying, Won Da Mo and Won Le Le is a revelation of a passionate singer handed a very tight space un-enough to accommodate the burning musicality in his lungs. Boy Spyce’s verses are the most passionate on the whole album, especially on All I’m Saying and Won Le Le. Again, Boy Spyce needs a proper project of his own. The talent is never in doubt: this album has revealed.

Mavin Records’ Chapter X tracklist.

Though the musical Don Jazzy lost to internet clownery is reinstalled, Ladipoe’s maturity tallies with Johnny Drille’s. Maybe this has something to do with their age. Perchance, it may just be about their longevity as the oldest Mavin Records signee in the third generation, behind DJ Big N.

This project proves one thing about Magixx absolutely: he has the most unique voice in the label. You can never mistake it for any other. Bayanni’s sound is still struggling with the ears for accomodation. But, something about him feels YBNL’s Fireboy Damola.

Safe for Drille and Poe’s mature penmanship, thematically, Chapter X is too cliche and too shallow for a project that has 10 different heads on the mic. Overdose, Won Da Mo, All I’m Saying and Losing You are enjoyable when isolated from the album by the way. DJ Big N did not play the hypeman game to near perfection too: renders his contribution totally unnecessary, sadly.

With this roundabout of romance released as a project, critics who claimed Don Jazzy signs artistes with the same sounds may be right; because, why does it always have to be romance and boasts throughout the project? Is the age of the artistes in question a determining factor of their lyrics? These are very young artistes whose inspiration mostly comes from celebrity lifestyles and internet trends! Flashback to the debut EPs of Boy Spyce, Magixx and Bayanni and the only instance you heard something that’s not romance is on the track Family, off Bayanni’s debut EP.

Ratings: 6/10
Sam George Mac is a music journalist known for the reviews of several music albums and songs. He is a singer and songwriter of Afrobeats, Dancehall, Highlife and RnB with the stage name SGM — a graduate of Mass Communication from The West African Union University, Cotonou.

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