1da Banton’s dominant musical lineage harks back to a particular tradition of West African highlife hits of the 1980s and 1990s, in the mould of Amakye Dede and Mike Okri: part cautionary tale, part triumphalist; as fitting for a beer parlour as it is for a pentecostal praise and worship session. Guest spots by Tiwa Savage and Kizz Daniel may have brought star power to the remix of his 2021 single, “No Wahala”, yet many of the song’s winning qualities—mid-tempo highlife percussion, sun-dappled piano, a big bassline and a rippling electric guitar—are present in the original. Banton’s third project, 2023’s 1DA SHALL NEVER END, extends that creativity across six tracks. Fickle love is the subject of EP opener “Omotola” whose eponymous love interest “dey whine like cassette”, a throwback which contributes to Banton’s knack for evoking generational shared nostalgia. “No Love in Lagos” celebrates the hedonistic trappings to be found in Nigeria’s largest city while rueing the absence of genuine emotional connection. Clear eyed, if jaded, Banton does not absolve himself in his recognition of the desperate realities of big city life: “Na money wey she dey find too”. On “Nibolowa”, the Nigerian singer cleverly recombines the musical signatures of his peers: Peruzzi’s scene setting on “Amaka” (2000), Kizz Daniel’s animated spoken word over sung hooks and the multitrack vocals that have been popularised by Asake. “Show ability/Burst my brain make I spend a milli’o,” assures Banton on “Ego”, the Igbo word for money—yet the English meaning of the word also rings true here. Banton solicits a lover’s companionship and kindness in exchange for money, a transactional relationship knowingly cloaked with niceties and mutual agreement. On “Family”, a dembow backbeat, roaming saxophone and Banton’s insistence that “This love is phenomenal” makes for a loveable take on lover’s rock, marking an obsession with dancehall that can be traced back to The Banton EP (2017). EP closer “Call Jehova” is a song of supplication which once again exemplifies Banton’s knack for gospel-tinged, crowd-pleasing song making.


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