Allow me to publicly thank the Federal Republic of Nigeria for giving us the breath of fresh air that is Bez (Emmanuel Bezhuwa Idakuya), a talented musician who grew up in the city of Jos. His website classifies his music as alternative soul which is apparently a hybrid of rock, jazz and soul (which I love!) as well as RNB (which I'm not so crazy about but can tolerate). Basically, it's swing and I can't get enough of it. This is the kind of music that I want to write bestselling books to, I want invent disruptive innovations to, I want to sit back and watch the world go by to, take a long spontaneous road trip to, walk the streets of Stone Town to, take a nap to, raise amazing afro haired babies to, study epidemiology to, write reports about orphans and shoes in Lesotho to, dance on an empty dance floor to... this is the kind of music that constitutes the mental soundtrack of my life.
I discovered Bez courtesy of one of the directors of a project I am working on who pleasantly surprises me on a regular basis with his eclectic life pursuits that range from being a health and development capacity building practitioner, to being a pretty good amateur photographer slash sound engineer slash disc jockey slash highly credentialed statistician. I like weird mixes of things and I like it when people's arms and legs poke out of the neat little boxes we try to stuff them into. So anyway, back to Bez. His beautiful acoustic guitar riffs make me reminisce about warm summer nights under starry African skies. As I listened to his debut album, Super Sun, I felt a euphoria I felt when I stumbled on London Grammar performing live in Paris in 2013 and fell instantly in love. It's the same feeling I felt when I discovered Bez's fellow Nigerian, the prodigious Asa in Bulawayo in 1996. In fact, Bez has a very similar style to Asa. It's like if Asa, John Legend, Estelle and Corneille all combined their musical DNA, the result would be Bez. His big band sounds have had me finger snapping (I am not cool and I don't care!) and toe tapping for hours.
The album Super Sun is at times warm, soulful and mellifluous (More You) and at times playful and swingy (Stop Pretending and Stupid Song) and often times it's a little bit of everything (Super Sun and Zuciya Daya), giving credence to the "hybrid" label on his website. It has the singular honor of being the only album inmy iTunes library on which every track has a rating of five stars. Even Lupe Fiasco's phenomenal Tetsuo and Youth doesn't have a clean sweep (thanks to Winter and Deliver). Super Sun is a super Saiyan piece of work and I can't wait to check out Bez's sophomore album. Who knows, with the way my life is stalked by serendipitious encounters, I might just accidentally walk in on a live Bez performance in some random corner of the Earth. Best believe I'll rock out until the sun comes up.
Check this guy out, kick back and be grateful that you are alive at such a time as this!