Two striking things you notice on Apolo’s 7 song, collaborative EP with producer Kuvie are the excellent production; and strong melodic offering. Mellow tropical vibes vibrate across the EP, like how the sun breaks through a cloudy sky after a rainfall. What makes this collaborative effort interesting is that, Kuvie brings on board his experience as a producer responsible for some of the biggest records you would hear in the country. Apolo, on the other hand, brings to the table, a relaxed melodic charm.
Apolo is a Nigerian singer, songwriter and rapper, whose zen-like demeanor is an anathema to the kind of mainstream afrobeats songs that reign the charts. It is calm, deliberate, and sometimes languidly delivered- the lyrics aren’t rushed; they dropp one at a time, like a catholic priest in a pulpit saying his grace. (Apolo’s music style and tone bears similar traits with that of Mr. Eazi).
Signed to JOC records- and the EP released under the imprint, the title track “Fila”, a discussion on love kicks off the EP. The minimal, clanking yet soothing rhythms combine with the deep vocal infection of Apolo to good effect. Even though the theme of love has been explored by every artist you can imagine, Apolo laces lyrics with sublime humor: “No bi who dey buy beans dey cook”, he sings to confirm his love for “Maria”.
The mellow sentiments of the song continues across the EP; the theme of love explored on each song. Over an enchanting bass line, electronic guitar synths and melodica horns, he metaphorically compares his wild life with the famous “Ghanaian rum” twedei ginger on ” Ginger”. The opening kick and bass is reminiscent of VIP’s “Money Lover” and “Wo Gye Gyere Gye” by Rex Omar. On the up-tempo “Ifeoma”, he lays bare his intentions to win the love of Ifeoma, a known ‘conqueror, well connected like antenna, run the place like antelope’. One can’t conclusively say if Apolo’s song was inspired by Felix Liberty’s 1989 hit song of the same title, ‘Ifeoma’. One, however can’t ignore the similarities in the melody and repetitive name drop in the chorus.
The slow burner “Sade”, has a smitten Apolo struggling to confess his feelings to Sade. Pinned on a reggae dancehall beat, “Talk Alot” portray the strains in relationship between a woman and her workaholic man.”How we go chop if I no cut grass?” he posits the question to justify his absence from home. The lyric evokes the thoughts expressed by literary giant, Ama Ata-Aidoo in ‘Changes: A Love Story’ about Ali Kondey’s justification for always being absent from home. The EP closes with the $pacely assisted, trap toned “Outro” where Apolo assures his lover of ‘better days’.
”Fila” is a narrative about love- from the first meeting to the trying times and coming to a conclusive understanding to wither the storm together. Choosing to work with Kuvie is strategic: Apolo hopes to build a base in Ghana and Kuvie’s experience in production might be the asset he needs. The melting of their musical influences is strongly exhibited on this project.
For what the Edo, Benin State native lacks in song writing – his lyrics are averagely delivered (take the number counting on ‘Fila’- he compensates with his impressive vocals dynamics and melodic outpourings. Both Apolo and Kuvie needed each other for their own benefits: Apolo needs a foothold in Ghana, and Kuvie desires a look from Nigerian audience. That’s the real fila.