Wednesday, 17 July 2024

King Promise’s creativity shines so bright on “True To Self” [Album Review].

On “True To Self”, King Promise chose to challenge himself to grow and stay true to his core values and so he crafts unarguably his most tight knitted project thematically and sonically, so much that nothing seems out of place.

King Promise
King Promise

King Promise music has evolved with the various times, seasons, trends and soundscapes that shines and present itself to the whole African community of creatives. King Promise rise from the bottom to top has not been meteoric, but has been one that’s followed a “slowly but surely” pattern. Dating back from his first project “As Promised” in 2019 to the latest project “True to Self“, his growth has been evident even from his sonic standpoint to his lyrical composition and ability to create records that can resonate on a local, continental and global level with his own iteration of Afrobeats.

The idea of growth is not so far fetched for the Nungua native artist – the place of birth and childhood for the Ghanaian act – who has been at the forefront of the Ghanaian’s export and exploration of other music markets across the world since his move to Tema in 2018 to link up with other creatives and supposedly plan his way to the top of the pyramid of Ghanaian music at the time.

In fact, while Ghanaian music has evolved like it’s Nigerian counterpart – although at a reduced rate – by subtly mixing it’s local Afrobeats and Highlife staples into other sounds across the world, King Promise has spearheaded the movement’s tinkering and tweaking, laying a much needed foundation to be used in order to achieve diversity and appeal in other markets. In fact, King Promise has done the most to create what it means to have a record that is unmistakably Ghanaian in it’s main tenets, bears the cultural hallmark and has a global allure as well to the rest of the world. He has been the one leading to create sonic templates of crafting Ghanaian records that can also transcend into other global market, catering for both sides of the divide.

From his Ghanaian Highlife driven debut in “As Promised“, to the western influenced production touch of 2022’s “5 Star” which had his attempt to cross over and experiment with other sound. Notably, while local producers mainly KillBeatz, Guiltybeatz helped him to chart his debut, he turned to Jae5 on “Ginger” and 4Play on “Bad N Rude” w WSTRN for records on his sophomore project in 2022. The aforementioned records had him treading the waters of Afro-Swing, and while he did found success with those foreign link-up, he was able to influence the sound at home in that when he inquired for the help of the local producers, they had raised their limits in response to his demand and crafted records ( “Ring My Line” w Headie One produced by MOG Music and “Slow Down” produced by KillBeatz) that were able to transcend Ghanaian borders while also appealing to the local music consumer.

King Promise's "True To Self" cover art.
King Promise’s “True To Self” cover art.

Now on his third roulette, also presented in form of another album, titled “True To Self“, released following the conclusion of his Asian Tour where he made stops in Jakarta, Singapore and Bali. While he did become the first African artist to sell out an Asian Tour, he quickly moved on to open a new chapter. In an interview with Apple Music, he admitted that it took a little over a year to craft the record on his new project and also stated that he did not have any title or thematic path he wanted to follow, saying he simply created records and allowed them determine the theme of the project.

On “True To Self“, King Promise chose to challenges himself to grow and stay true to his core values and flavors, and so he crafts unarguably his most tight knitted project thematically and sonically, so much that nothing seems out of place. King Promise weaves story of resilience, stardom and majorly love in different facets and all through the narrative of each theme, he stays true to his instincts, values and perceptions. This makes up for a project that is so much vulnerable just as much as it’s introspective.

Tracks list for True To Self.

The opener begins so fast unlike any of his previous projects. On “Believe” he lets out his story how he had to step out of his home to pursue his dreams. He recalls how he had to embrace his dream and believe it even when nobody else around him saw it. “I swear to God them no believe, I had to put it on my sleeve, everybody don dey believe” he sings on the upbeat production. This sentiment bleeds on to the next track “Continental” where he quickly moves from recalling his early adventure to the top to fixing his gaze on his current reality at the top, and who better to put on a coming of age to superstardom story than Shallipopi, who also himself is rapidly scaling heights to the top since the last year. King Promise begins with a razor sharp declaration where he sings “Nothing under the sun wey go shake me“. He proceeds to admit his international status and appeal on the chorus. On this record, Shallipopi delivers what is probably his most assured verse and tapped so well into King Promise’s energy to stay on theme on the log drum punctuated record.

Permission Granted” begins the exploration of the love theme on the project and a sequence that typifies the relationship cycles of this era. King Promise admittedly wants something intimate and ephemeral, while Fave is on building commitment and a futuristic love. Although, they did later found a common ground to accommodate each other’s feeling. “Paris” is exactly what happens next when you just found love as it embodies a feeling of traveling with your loved one, this time to Paris. The single whose music video was shot in Eiffel Tower in the famous French city of Paris, depicts the moment of a love chronicle which also had a stop in the iconic love city.

Holidays and travelling present itself an opportunity for more bonding between lovers and also a period of observation. ‘Perfect Combi” typifies such moment. King Promise calls on London based Gabzy on a record that oscillates between Afro-Pop and Afro-Swing. Both artist goes back and forth on the bouncy production comparing their attributes with that of their love interest, and concluding that they are both perfect fit as evidenced in the title of the track which is a shortened form of “Perfect Combination“.

Things begin to get serious on “Paranoid” and King Promise wonders if his lover is willing to make things work seemingly due to past experiences and insecurities when he sings “okay okay make I ask you one question / would you hold it down if things went wrong or would this serve as lesson hmm hmm“. He then continues to assure her that ” don’t stress your head / baby I’ll hold it down, hold it down“. Fridayy adds a much needed RnB edge where he promises a range of commitments to his love muse. He excels on the record with his well taken verse and special colorful vocals underneath that elevates King Promise’s reassurances.

Ringing In My Head” begins to explore the sour taste of love. “How you go bring sunshine to my life and still bring rain / How you dey give me joy and still dey give me pain” are the opening line of the record making it obvious that this is a sad record even though the production dictates otherwise and is probably the happiest and groovy so far. It’s probably the best song on the project and will easily resonate with any listener because of it’s simplicity. While he is wishing her well for her next adventure on the record, it seemingly doesn’t end there but continues on “9:45” where he narrates how his lover has gone incommunicado. He admits he has done the best he can do and similar views are shared by Lasmid and Ladipoe who were so smooth and thematically tight with their verses.

When we get to “Mad Oh“, King Promise is confused on the demands of his lover, and he intently asks her ” what make I do for you to see say I dey love you my baby “. Obviously wanting to keep it going, he spits out all his confusions hoping his lover will see his efforts. However, that doesn’t work well as it comes to an end on “Favourite Story“. On the upbeat and bouncy production, King Promise sings ” You are my favorite story I no fit tell how this go end But I know it served it purpose” and moving on vows to ” I no dey use my heart no more I choose to use my head“. He inquires on the help of Sarkodie and Olivetheboy for an all Ghanaian anthem which is sure to make wave.

Finally getting ready to close on “Own It“, King Promise assures his girl speaking on their issues and asks her to own it on everything she does. “Terminator” will eventually close the project and he speaks on staying true to himself when he sings ” I’m at a point in life if you understand me or not, Misunderstand me or not / Me I’m okay, I’m okay / And if you think I’m wrong or not, Long as it’s what I want / Me I’m okay, I’m okay“.

*True To Self” is a collection of self aware and vulnerable stories of an artist who is at the top of his game and continually opens himself to the process of growth and gives more to ensuring the limits of his creativity is infinite. On “True To Self“, a 12 track project that is evenly balanced with six solo and feature tracks, King Promise is able to lay bare his identity and values that underlines and rules his existence, his personal life and relationships.

On each track, he offers out a piece of himself and gives us an insight into his humanity using powerful and razor sharp narratives to speak his truth which is the essence of the title of his third studio album. While he did call on other artist for help at certain point, they blended so well into his thematic vision and help bring in much needed dynamism. It all leads into his best project yet, and a much needed step up for the next things he is set to take on in his career.

RATING: 7.6/10.


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