When Basketmouth started thinking about his debut project, 2020’s revered Yabasi, the comedian born Bright Okpocha had only one goal: to turn Nigerian pop music on its head. Melding shapeshifting hip-hop influences with the frothing highlife sound of his Igbo heritage, Basketmouth and his creative partner Duktor Sett stumbled on a formula that made Yabasi one of 2020’s most well-received left turns and created a blueprint for bringing regional sounds to the mainstream.
The 2022 follow-up, Horoscopes, was an equally ambitious effort, as Basketmouth created a cinematic production packed with moments of condensed clarity that cut to the heart of emotions like betrayal, lust, angst and love. On his 2023 album, Uburu, the creative polymath playfully expands the boundaries of his hip-hop-meets-highlife sound for a lighthearted dispatch on hustling, romance, hedonism and destiny across seven tracks.
Ever the skilled curator, Basketmouth places balmy ditties side by side with explicit hip-hop cuts, teasing out exciting turns from his talented cast of guests. Mavin signee Bayanni teams up with Ghanaian reggae-dancehall icon Shatta Wale on “Goal Keeper”, where they dissect the eternal chase of material success and the perks of a luxurious lifestyle, while Lojay unabashedly serenades a lover on “Jolie Jellof”.
A couple of go-to Basketmouth collaborators make a return here as well, with Peruzzi channelling his inner vibes orchestrator for a sublime showing on “Party”, while Duncan Mighty and BOJ unite for a moving ode to companionship on “Link Up”. From time to time on Uburu, the instrumentals take a very skeletal form to allow the artists’ vocals to take flight, as on “Cover Me”, where Victony and newcomer Qing Madi combine for a steamy declaration of intent. Still, the highlight of the project is “Chasing Dreams”, a powerful induction into the grass-to-grace canon lifted by Timi Dakolo’s evocative chorus and unbeatable penmanship from Torrian Ball and Reminisce.