by Wilfred Okiche
King of Queens is the title of the long in the works debut album from pop chanteuse Yemi Alade. After winning the inaugural edition of the Peak Talent Hunt reality show in 2009, Alade bubbled under the surface for a spell, releasing material that went largely ignored by the massive audience she had gotten used to while the reality show was airing.
Things took a turn for the better with the late 2013 release of the single Johnny. Produced by fast rising Selebobo, Johnny with its infectious chorus, relatable lyrics and tawdry melodrama became the song that could. It swelled into 2014, buoyed by a colourful, effective video that was a magnet for YouTube clicks. Johnny made Miss Alade a star and she has strived as hard to sustain this new found status; working impressive live performances, red carpet appearances and endorsement deals.
Her debut album, King of Queens attempts to play up this newly acquired status. Alade is not content with being just one of the girls in an industry where the biggest players are mostly male. She is confident, vibrant and despite a merry flirtation with colours, wants to be the alpha (fe)male. On Johnny, she laments the promiscuous ways of her man but she is no pliant victim, and as such, delivers her material with a subtle, knowing wink. One gets the feeling she isn’t one to sit around crying over any Johnny.
Pose with Ghanaian duo R2bees is a flirty parade in which Alade and her collaborators bump and grind their way to the destination, urging a confidence that can only come from self-satisfaction. Even the ballads on King of Queens are affirming in their feminism. The excellent, Sizzle Pro arranged Durotimi is a plea to a jealous lover who cannot quite deal with her decision to pursue a career for herself. This girl wants no move and no man is going to hold her back.
On Catch you, Alade’s ode to oughties R&B, she rides a tempestuous storm where she plays the man eater, threatening to do various things to a tentative lover if she ever gets the chance. A lot of her meaning is not explicitly outlined, but it is pretty clear anyway. It is on the skit, K.I.N.G, however, that she gives undeniable expression to the album’s theme. Channelling Beyonce in her “Diva” mode, Alade rides through a gritty hip hop arrangement to make it clear she is playing second fiddle to nobody.
Like many debut albums of its ilk, King of Queens doesn’t quite know when to quit and falls into overstuffed territory quickly. Songs like Sugar, Selense (with Chidinma) and Daddy Oyoyo have no discernible value that they add to the mix and the result is a record that meanders off the straight and narrow and comes back just as the audience has lost interest and tuned off mentally.
There are redeemers like Kissing (especially the remix with Tanzanian, Diamond) and Temperature (with Dil) but they show up too late to really matter.
When King of queens shines, it really does and this is highlighted by Miss Alade’s power vocals, sure footing and acceptable production values. The record, however, refuses to deviate from the run of the mill pop album one would expect from any of Alade’s peers. She may be King in terms of conception and what she imagines herself to be, but the output on this record isn’t exactly worthy of such a title.
She still has a ways to go.
– The writer tweets from @drwill20