If you know music and you give the music a chance, this is largely good music with Vector doing some of his best bits of rap.
Amongst Nigerian Hip-Hop lovers, Vector’s discography is a subject of intense polarizing discussion. Most people feel Vector has no good albums, but his stans will have your head for even mooting the thought.
Four years after his third album, Lafiaji, he releases the 10-track VIBES Before T.E.S.L.I.M: The Journey To Self-Discovery. It is a precursor to his fifth album, T.E.S.L.I.M. The album was released on November 29, 2019 – two months after it was initially set to drop as an EP.
Topically, it is the most introspective, cohesive and balanced work Vector has released yet. Now 35, the man born Olanrewaju Ogunmefun uses the music as a Dictaphone and becomes a sensei. He is a voice of reason, he is a big brother and he is a rapper with a soul of substance.
With the music, he discusses love, relationships, downsides of vices and responds to haters. More importantly, while using his life as a specimen for his teachings, he admits his imperfections as a human being.
When it comes down to it, the album’s major faults are a lack of potential groundbreaking songs and the necessary, yet flawed pursuit of a pop hit at the expense of resonant substance.
Ordinarily, the album would have been fine without groundbreaking songs, but as Vector attempts pop records with ‘hit’ potential, the metrics to judge this album switch. Once you attempt radio-friendly records on a project that would be perfect without any, you’re susceptible to be judged by those pop records.
Here is why;
The album comes in four forms; Vector, the sensei, Vector, Mr. Introspective, Vector, The Petty and Vector, Mr. Pop.
Vector, The Sensei
‘Your Biology Is Sending You To Hell’ is built on an R&B beat defined by bass guitar chords and it discusses the destructive tendencies of vices on mental health. But unlike other human beings, Vector admits that he’s also susceptible to the destructive effects of this ‘biology.’ He also admits that this ‘Biology’ is a fundamental part of humanity.
‘Mind Games’ is the best song on this project. Its beat sounds like something from Eminem’s Shady Records in the early 2000s. Vector rips into it with hungry savagery that’s drenched in substantial topics and dripping with killer cadences. The song seems a critique of millennial obsession with publicity. This is the Vector this writer wants to see more.
‘Man With A Gun’ features Bris B of LOS and it’s a socio-political chatter which critiques religion, vices and bad choices from the eye of tragedy. It feels like Vector questions the necessity of religion in a bad world where anything can end people at anytime.
Vector, Mr. Introspective
On a sound built for afro&B – which we now call ‘vibe,’ Vector is a sprung, horny and mushy. It’s welcome softness. ‘Comfort’ features Davido and opens with pleasing panegyrics and typical Yoruba folk chant-and-respond. As a love song with which Vector admits his weakness as a lover who hopes to be better, ‘Comfort’ fits into the soul of this album.
However, mostly due to its generic production, it lacks the x-factor to truly resonate and be groundbreaking. The greatness of a song like this is defined by its groundbreaking potential and this song lacks it.
‘Oja’ is 90’s R&B beat with Caribbean percussion. Topically, Vector discusses pain in love, life, relationships, career and drugs. With a beautiful hook, it is also a tale of the pluses of discipline. This song deserves a video and a huge feature. Meanwhile, that shot at ‘the ex’ is vicious though. Small play?
‘Vector’s Vibe’ is an adulation of a woman’s body towards the inevitable conclusion of sex.
Vector, The Petty
On the same beat as for, ‘Judas The Rat,’ his viral diss track to MI Abaga, Vector admits that he wants people to tell him what he wants to hear and not what they feel like telling. He then proceeds to subtly use it for braggadocio. The song is titled, ‘Alaye Jor Jor Jor.’
As the song draws to a close, it seems Vector takes fresh shots at MI Abaga. Was this necessary? Probably not.
The self-produced ‘Never Scared’ is the final track on this journey. With it, Vector is boisterous and aggressive. He even takes shots at music fans for underrating him. It is a good song built on honest rap, but…
Vector, Mr. Pop
‘Just In Case’ features Slimcase and DJ Niyor. The song is a vibe, but it shouldn’t be on this project. It’s not going anywhere, anyway. ‘Adurah’ was initially released on Vector’s third album, Lafiaji and here it gets an EDM remix.This feels like an unnecessary addition.
This is Vector’s most cohesive project yet. The reason is simple, most of the songs feel organic and authentic – like they were created from a place of peace and a need to express rather than impress.
Vector’s previous albums were destroyed by a scatterbrained approach to music. The rapper would try to do too much and end up saturating his albums. Even worse, the songs will feel hastily done or undercooked. This time, he’s calmer and more methodical.
Some of the strange traits from those earlier albums come up on songs like ‘Just In Case,’ but for the most part, Vector achieves what he seemingly set out to do. He creates a 10-track project that people can relate to while having good replay value.
Like MI Abaga’s 2018 album, The Self Evaluation of Yxng Dxnzl, some people will call Vibes Before T.E.S.L.I.M corny. But if you know music and you give the music a chance, this is largely good music with Vector doing some of his best bits of rap.
• 0-1.9: Flop
• 2.0-3.9: Near fall
• 4.0-5.9: Average
• 6.0-7.9: Victory
• 8.0-10: Champion
Pulse Rating: /10
Content and Themes: 1.5/2
Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.4/2
7.0 – Victory