On the opening track to Lataaro, he went into an introspective bag that was loaded with searing facts and mellow revelations. During the promo run for ‘Lataaro,’ Rae Slick joked about Ceemos’ ability to go into that dark introspect and produce a scary type of honesty by saying, “Omo, egbon you don suffer o… Wetin happen? [laughs]”
ALSO READ: Teeto Ceemos and Rae Slick speak with Pulse Nigeria
If Ceemos took a long time to release his ‘Lataaro,’ he returns with Verses After Dark just one year later and it comes with straight heat… duh, it’s Teeto Ceemos, it will always be fire. As he reveals on the album opener ‘Exodus,’ the quick turnaround time was inspired by something that happened in 2019.
The track documents Ceemos’ journey through those pre-Lataaro years of doubt. He raps, “The rapper I was born to be, I could not be…”
He then found himself and released ‘Lataaro’ with Rae Slick in 2019. Things looked up and they performed at Rhythm Unplugged in 2019, but the crowd was unmoved and those events shattered Rae Slick. The track feels like one that documents mixed emotions, but Ceemos simply forgot to be grateful. Not everybody has a comeback story.
Nonetheless, hunger is what winners are made of. He completes the song by rapping, “But there was a lesson learned, we ain’t shit warm harder…” That ‘Rhythm Unplugged’ moment inspired him to make this album and he made it.
The album is conceptually themed as an ideal soundtrack for a drive for a late night drive through Lagos or happenings around Lagos nightlife.
The concept is summed up by, ‘Late Night Drive.’ As Ceemos is stuck in traffic, he plays Asa’s ‘Bibanke’ before picking up a smoker-girl and spends the night with her, doing NFSW. A few other tracks – like the trap-based ‘At Night’ featuring Zamir or LOS – on the album are themed towards Lagos nightlife, but a lot of those experiences seem independent of each other.
One then wonders if Ceemos could have tied them together with his album sequencing. Interestingly, Ceemos also places the pivotal ‘Late Night Drive’ in the middle of the album when it could have come first as a tone setter.
The problem with that is that the bite of ‘Exodus’ would have been lost. While ‘Exodus’ is a great intro, ‘Late Night Drive’ better suits the concept that Ceemos tries to pull off as an opener. It’s quite doubtful that ‘Exodus’ suits a late night drive – it’s a hard record.
On the album, Ceemos is sometimes a loverboy. Sometimes, he’s a Yoruba demon. Sometimes, he loves a good time. Sometimes, he brings in that searing introspect and other times he’s a political commentator. All the while, the production is impressive and the album is concise – at just 32 minutes long.
Teeto Ceemos, loverboy
‘Gidi Nights’ features veteran singer, Niyola. In picture-esque detail, Ceemos documents how an unplanned hangout at Niyola’s car warming became a chance meeting with a beautiful, curvy woman – presumably Yoruba. Ceemos tries to present himself as a loverboy and Niyola sings about “love in Lasgidi,” but he sounds more like a Yoruba demon.
More interestingly, Ceemos uses that scenario to creatively digress into describing a typical Lagos night and why house parties are the best. In summation he raps, “Leave your manners at the door when you enter…” Well, those parties can get really wild.
The ‘loverboy’ persona was better executed on the aptly-titled, ‘Falling’ featuring Chike Agada and veteran, Lord Vino. Shout-out to that woman, she saw through Ceemos’ and saw that Yoruba demon. She says, “Toyin, you’re just toying with my brain…” That’s a clever play on words too.
But interestingly, the relationship started from Twitter DMs. Lord Vino cements Ceemos’ efforts and balances the song out. On ‘Late Night Drive’ he raps that, “My chick nyash so huge, it gives me anxiety and I love it…” Omo, Ceemos’ obsession with the derriere is wild, but we will forgive him. He’s a Yoruba man…
Teeto Ceemos, Mr. Introspective
It’s all not all love and pretty stuff. Ceemos goes into his bag for some heavy Hip-Hop records. On the sample-heavy ‘Loyalty’ featuring Ozone discusses life and its many imperfections. He discusses womanly warmth but juxtaposes it with his trust issues as he bemoans prevalent disloyalty in the Nigerian society.
Ozone comes back with a different perspective and issues something of a response. It’s almost as if he takes Ceemos’ claims on disloyalty personal. He discusses how he went back to school due to loyalty and honour. He also makes a reference to his ill-fated spell at Aristokrat Records alongside Mojeed and the label’s CEO, Peedi Picasso also known as Piriye Isokrari.
‘Overdose’ follows a similar mould. Produced by BeatsByJayy, it continues some of the chronicles of low moments that we heard on ‘Exodus.’
But the difference between both tracks is that while Ceemos seemed angry and reeling from the pain of that dark place of struggling to create on ‘Exodus,’ he stands straight, sticks out a middle finger and gets vindictive on ‘Overdose.’
He raps, “Give me my bouquets on floors that’s marble paid…” He continues, “Some niggaz thought I quit, I been hearing all the rumours. You can call yourself a critic, but to me you’re a consumer! Move at night and sleep all day, f*** a fitbit dem n*** can’t match my pace…”
As the lo-fi Hip-Hop knocks with the vocal sample and the bass, the track gets intense, yet calming. Rae Slick is a good rapper, but he might be better as a singer because he absolutely ripped that hook – Jesus! At the end of a long day while driving home, a track like this could definitely recalibrate the Hip-Hop head.
The introspect isn’t limited to music though. On ‘Wrong Things,’ Ceemos also reminisces about past relationships and exes. With the help of Moon, he pegs his personal struggles in love down to his human excesses. On ‘Life,’ Ceemos and Vector cut deep into losses and struggles with the help of Dami Oniru. This track could have done with an AQ verse though.
The political aspect
Alongside ‘Overdose’ featuring Rae Slick, ‘Ride With Me’ featuring Show Dem Camp and the talented April Maey is the best song on this album. Ceemos and Show Dem Camp issue a socio-political examination of the prevalent ills in Nigerian governance. Ghost also produces one of the best verses Nigeria has seen in 2020. Don’t sleep on Tec either – bare men tend do do that. And yeah, April Maey rips that hook!
Ghost raps, “Naija is a scam if you live here it’s plain to see. Connecting dots may be hard with local ISPs… You gotta use your platform to show em how the government is screwing us with a strap-on…”
It’s another good album from Ceemos who keeps aging like fine wine. However, the album sequencing could have done with greater clarity to better express the album’s concept of music to soundtrack late night drives or music about Lagos nightlife. That said, tracks like ‘Falling’ and ‘At Night’ have good content, but the production that carries them isn’t as memorable.
• 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
Album Sequencing: 1.3/2
Songwriting and Themes: 1.7/2
Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.6/2
7.4 – Victory