The day was Friday 27th April, 2018, when African Yayo was officially put out to the world; just 10 days after being made available for preorder.
Alexander Bagonza (A Pass) broke through onto the Ugandan music scene in 2014 after his infectious successfully acclaimed single “Tuli KuBigere” captured the attention of many, was among the most played songs on both radio and television and remains one of the best songs to date. In the same year, he accompanied Tuli KuBigere with “Wuuyo”; an all-time favorite long song, after his breakthrough track which was later even adapted as one of the soundtracks of the Queen of Katwe movie. He has since then garnered multiple awards for music, fashion, and his excellent social media presence, collaborations, bookings and of course endorsements from corporate companies.
Bagonza went on to drop a couple of singles in 2015 and the most prominent one being Memories (feat. Former Blu*3 member Lilian Mbabazi). This paved way for the eventual release of his debut 22 track studio album; Nva Kampala on the 13th of May 2016. On that album, he did have a surprise collab; featuring his icon Konshens on the track titled Gamululu. Another notable single on there was his reggae song Mariana. The album was produced by him and long-term friend Nessim and was mastered by Kemist.
A Pass later that same year released dancehall track “Dance Like This” featuring Ibra Buwembo. He then followed it up with “Amenvu” in 2017. For the next couple of months, he kept it lowkey musically and only made an appearance on Avril’s song; Babiee.
Silent as he seemed to be, his grind and creative lyrical and music production instincts were still up; and you know what they say about working in silence and letting the success do the talking. This was something I must say “Teacher” really embraced as he made few public appearances and confined to his home studio most times, cooking up what would be the next big thing!
At the start of February 2018, Didadada was released as the lead offering of what would be a forthcoming album. This tune got everyone on their toes dancing; prompting an online “Didadada challenge” which saw many fans, celebrities, media personalities and many persons worldwide sharing videos of themselves dancing to the song. Didadada was written and produced by A Pass as HerbertSkillz did the mastering. Didadada as expected would go ahead to top multiple mainstream media charts and music platforms too.
Fast forward to 5th April, 2018, A Pass put up the track listing of the African Yayo album. This was a compilation of 24 songs though he later added two extra tracks bringing their total count to 26.
According to Aexander Bagonza, African Yayo is more of an expression of Africa to the world. The beauty that is in Africa and its vibe. You and I couldn’t agree anymore as the album artwork itself communicates volumes. If you are to look at it critically, it is a map of Africa embodied in an art form on A Pass’ face; highlighting Uganda of course since he is Ugandan.
Artwork: The album artwork for the African Yayo was crafted and designed by Ntinda based visual artist; Hatimax Sebintu. On the artwork is an illustration of the face of A Pass with the map of Africa on it, and a thorn crown upon his head.
Structure: Being the versatile artist A Pass, African Yayo lives up to this expectation. The album had songs that go from the reggae genres, to dancehall, and upbeat, with some bit of hip-hop influenced sounds.
Production: The success of this project to a certain extent also was because of the guest producers A Pass brought on board to bring it to life. Some of the singles on there had the joint efforts more than just one prouder. For instance; such as Everything had Nessim and HerbertSkillz joining hands to ace it. Same case as Jangu Eno among others. Music producers Andre, Baru, Aethan Music, Sam Lamara, Lex, Big Nash, Prod MadderKayz among others were guest producers on this one as well.
Like any other normal compilation; African Yayo opens with an Intro track where A Pass basically freestyles. Aethan music produced Nkaaba follows suite as track number two. This brings us to song three Todayo a rhythmic love tune. Producer Andre on the beat produced Polina (which according to me had the most outstanding simple yet highly supplicated lyrical content) follows and then London Town, Like a Uber, a song about a lady who drives A Pass crazy like an uber. The rest of the tracks on the album are: Sugar Keno, Buli Wayita, Ah You, I am African, African Yayo, Uganda, Fever, Mukwano Gwo, Everything, Omunakyalo, My Darling, Gifted, Over You, Mummy, Didadada, Jangu Eno, Any Mood, Endongo, Abatunonya, and Traditional Man.
Release: 17th April is when the album was put up for preorder on Apple Music and iTunes and upon preordering, a user would be offered the only two singles “London Town and Like a Uber” which were the only available tracks at the moment.
Like A Pass always does. He does release music on only Fridays. And so was it on the 27th of April, 2018 when we woke up to the news of the release of the African Yayo album. He made this announcement in a tweet.
Reception: The African Yayo made history as the most tweeted about Ugandan album of all time; garnering over 1000 tweets each week about it; before it could even be released. The album stands as one of the most successful albums in terms of sales as it had over 4,000 preorders as of the time of release. African Yayo has also been streamed over 15,000 times on just Spotify alone to-date. The album also peaked at number two in the Apple Music Charts (behind Kanye West and Kid Cudi’s Kids See Ghosts) and number one on the Tidal album charts.
Videos: On the entire album, only Didadada and Mummy have official music videos, however the majority of the singles on the album have lyrics videos out now and are on A Pass’ YouTube channel.
Critical Reception: I did recently run a poll on Twitter asking people which album they enjoyed listening to the more; Nva Kampala or this one and majority voted in favor of the former. This would most probably be due to the fact that Nva Kampala had many singles they were familiar with (due to media airplay and most singles were available for free download), and African Yayo was more of a digital product as it was only available for online streaming and download, and since majority of our population are just picking up with the idea of listening to music digitally, they did not get enough opportunity to interact with the album at the time of release.
To date A Pass continues to do the thing he loves to do; that is; to make good music.
A Happy 2nd birthday to African Yayo. The album also shares a release date birthday with Post Malone’s “Beerbongs and Bentleys” LP which came out on a similar day. In case you haven’t, be sure to stream the album via: www.ffm.to/africanyayo. My personal favorites on here were: Buli Wayita, Polina, Like a Uber, Ah You and London Town. What were yours?