This album is peculiar enough to convince us that while Ruffcoin is still a menacing outlier in the music conversation, he has completely shunned any deep mission to bust through the mainstream, shut down stadiums and create scream “From Aba to the world’.
Album: Made In Aba
Guests: Deejay JMasta, Phyno, FemiLarge, M Josh, Zoro, Fiokee, Sparkle, Effect MC
Producers: Fluky, Mjosh, Kezyklef, Dbigswish,
Duration: 77 Minutes
Record Label: V12 Music (2016)
With just one single, Ruffcoin was the sweetest darling of the East. For a fantastical Eastern Highlife and pop fusion album – 2004’s “Nwa Aba” – Emelogu Muruako Fortune’s skill of digging into his Highlife sensibility and whelming beats smashed together, seemed like it was always going to take off at some point into the rest of Nigeria.
More albums followed after that in what was a string of releases. “Nwa Aba Reloaded”, and “Diamond in The Ruff”. But his was a classic story of putting your best work out first. Ruffcoin peaked too early with ‘Nwa Aba’, a time when the systems we have now to support pop music were still in their formative years. The internet was still a novel elitist tool, and only via going through traditional media and appeasing the gatekeepers could you get put on.
However, one release after another and a plan to rebrand his music and penetrate Lagos, never came to fruition. Ruffcoin found mainstream success very difficult to come by, and 12 years after he first found fame in the Eastern heartland, he has become accepting of his role as an underground king, one who achieves niche recognition, and enjoys acclaim just below the bright lights of pop adoration.
With that acceptance, powered by the Igbo love, he has gone about making his music. 2016 has him releasing a new project – “Made In Aba” – after teasing singles off the LP. A collaboration with the King Of The East, Phyno, titled “Ogbugianyi:, is a collaboration which lifts this.
Ruffcoin caters to his Eastern the market, with all of his sound composition and lyrical infusion designed to appeal first to them. To the people of that region, this will be magic, but transport it to other places and the magic dissolves. There’s Trap on ‘Never Give Up’, but ‘Enyi Number 1’ is a gem of a song. A classic Igbo folk music, it fails to stick to the requirements of mainstream radio, stands at over 10 minutes long, tells stories, begs for God’s favour, and wraps it all with instrumentation. Closing track ‘Higher’ is pure Highlife.
Whether artistically or financially driven, though, pop doesn’t sit right with Runtown. As if sensing drift towards the centre, halfway through the record he whips out his ogene for the gyration single ‘Aba Made’. ‘Mmiri’ unleashes the most erratic dance track, mixing synths with ogene and chanting, while ‘Eriwa’ splices braggadocio with supplication.
In the end, while it is a musically satisfying project, but you have to have passed through the Igbo filter to truly appreciate the influences, samples and thematic composition. It’s all peculiar enough to convince us that while Ruffcoin is still a menacing outlier in the music conversation, he has completely shunned any deep mission to bust through the mainstream, shut down stadiums and create scream “From Aba to the world’.
Rating – 3.5
3-Worth Checking Out