The Small but Significant Miracles of Jesse Jagz

Sad songs are so rare in the Nigerian pop music scene that in the last half decade one could count them on one hand and still have digits left.

The peak of melancholic music is Timi Dakolo’s “There’s A Cry” off his debut album. That was back in 2011.

In 2013, the twin highlights of Jesse Jagz’s sophomore JagzNation, “Burning Bush” and “Sativa”, are aberrations on the pop single scene.

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Besides sharing a titular allusion to cannabis, both songs are unified in reaching into the depth of melancholia for their effect.

The latter features a background humming and a chorus delivered by the underrated, underused, Lindsey whose musical chemistry with Jesse Jagz is still intact following their collaboration on Jagz of all Tradez. Burning Bush is a brooding tribute to a deceased friend that manages to also be a tribute to marijuana. On both, there are vague ideas about politics but that is not their main appeal. Instead, they derive their powers from the way Jesse works his words around a mellow but lush production.

The album itself might gratify patient listeners who wade through the man’s potpourri of patois and pidgin, but it would surely confound deejays who’ll frequently find it difficult locating a song that segues smoothly into or from a song like say, the delightfully frank “Sex and Scotch”. The rhythmic patterns of JagzNation are that unusual.

Jesse’s words are sometimes clear, and to my mind one of the album’s memorable lines shows up on the album’s intro: “Witness the way that Jarga rhyme, like Jesus turning water into wine.”

Cocky? Yes. Blasphemous? Perhaps. But like most of the album, beautiful and sure.

First published sometime in 2013 by Metropole Magazine.

Nigeria’s most acclaimed writer-reviewer. Business: www.criticsandbylines.com.

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