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TOBOLOS: DOG WHISTLE REVIEW

Kaduna/Lagosian rapper turned lawyer Tobolos or T Feli Feli returns with a little project after almost a decade of absence from the craft. The Kadulasgidi rapper maintains his previous rash in your face rap rhymes and punchline style which is reminiscent of Detroit rapper Marshall Mathers(and rightly so as he has frequently cited him as a major influence).

On the opening track Green Snakes, he puts other rappers on notice (if they still exist) and possibly fake friends with a hint that he’s dealt with a lot recently, he’s done being nice and remains as daunting in the face of his adversities or haters…

The second track is called Croc City.Lasgidi.My City, and my personal favorite on the project. It is a mix of two vibes on Kendrick’s Maad City instrumental taking a similar route as the Compton rapper. He raps about the reality of both cities; from the violent religious prejudices in the northern part of the country during his years as a kid to the advent of the Boko Haram movement which only worsened the issues, to his years in Lagos, where there’s no order, only chaos and an abundance of mediocrity and lack of basic human needs, which led to a major loss for him. There is a transition on the track which basically espouses that the track isn’t simply about two cities but a country that is failing and the reflection on the exodus idea that seems to be the general solution for most Nigerians and most of his peers. He features Fikayo who does well coming in at the latter part of the track. The duo are in great sync, as they narrate their experiences, struggles, hate and ultimately love for this mad country, as well as their belief that beyond the pain and struggles, lies a dream worth fighting for. A not so subtle advice to those planning an exeunt.

The third is the previously released single Nuff Said where he touches on his coming into adulthood, the loss of father, lack of interest in women and how he remains a pacifist but his gang probably won’t and his Love for God who has seen him through.

Insane features great vocals from Kennethcollins (no surprise there) over verses addressing his life pressures which he keeps bottled up with a smile for the snaps, as he’s close to losing sanity from the intensity of it all. He reminisces about his university days and the pain from his losses from back then, as they well up and mirror his current state of depression, he admits he almost choked from it all and couldn’t rely on the basic vices such as recreational drugs and alcohol that are usually the go to reliefs in such times. Ultimately he finds solace in a good friend and his faith in Jesus who reminds him that he’s only human and the existence of his down trodden spirits are only a natural reaction to life and possibly a necessary darkness before the dawn of an evolution.

The final track The King’s Speech sees Tobolos ignoring his past mistakes, reiteration of errors and the confusion and fear they represent. And in a refusal to “let that tapeworm fester” he finds his footing once again as he intends to look forward, maintaining he’s still as badass as he ever was and with his confidence returned he’s now a monstrosity who is ready to take on the future, as he basks in God’s grace and thus advises listeners to believe in themselves and recognize they are royalty like he’s done, as growth is a necessary part of progression.

 

Dog Whistle is an interesting project but not a perfect one. Whilst Tobolos’ style and bartender rhyming  lyricism (I just coined that ) remain as nice and impressive as ever e.g –

So it’s a catch 22, cooking plans to make it, I’m on batch 22, I wanna ball like Kaka so on my back’s 22 , or Many die like a Vegas casino  etc. evoke feelings of the popular meme of Funkmaster Flex shouting * “now listen that’s cold motherfxxxixx bars nigga! you know nothing about that !!”* – and great rhyme schemes like Nights and Nice.

These level of bars and good rhyming are recurrent on the project, and are mostly impressive and well thought out. They are however toned down by the entire production engineering/recording of the project which is not so great and reduces its overall effect, the occasional shaky delivery pointing ultimately to a rushed recording.

However, despite these minor issues which are the norm for a cover style mixtape especially one with the rap style of the 10s, it remains a well-rounded project (which cannot be said for a lot of cover style rap mixtapes). It manages to showcase the vulnerability and strength of a rapper with a lot to get off his chest, who despite being fraught with so many odds against him, finds his footing, concluding with a balanced denouement that sends an important message, thus sealing it as a dope project.

Interestingly It also shows the greatness that can be expected when the artiste takes his time to carve out a full unrushed project and treats the craft as less of a hobby.

You should definitely cop this when it drops.

 

 

by

Kunle Whesu

 

 

 

 

 

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