After I listened to the album for the first time, my first reaction was “Wow. I didn’t feel the need to skip any songs.” Albums like that don’t come too often these days – in Nigeria and outside of Nigeria. Even the so called “hit albums” always have that ‘I don’t listen to this’ type of songs. This album, on first listen, doesn’t give off that vibe.
2face is no stranger to making great music, but it almost seems he really fine tuned those skills in this album, and that’s attributed to his experience in music. 5 studio albums is no joke.
Away & Beyond starts off on a mature note in Higher (Spiritual Healing) ft. Huma Lara which sets the tone for the rest of the album. The tune produced by Femi Ojetunde (who produces 4 songs on the album) almost feels like a prayer-like introduction with the Indian sample.
Once you’ve been given a dose of the new improved 2face, then the journey into the “Away & Beyond” has officially begun. Omo T’osan is a nice mellow tune that sees 2face go in some depth as to imagining a perfect girl, and the intense feeling that come along with it. That comes right before we see a surprise guest appearance from Terry Tha Rapman on the song Bother You that ranks up there in terms of favorite songs on the album.
Spell Bound gives us an interestingly new age sound by Dark Secret International which somehow works very well with the lyrics 2face lays over it. Captivating enough to hold the audience and a similar pattern follows in Steady Steady, although in a more playful tone with lyrics like “If I say Poraro, and I say Potato, nah the same Potato.” Not to get carried away though, the song is not just jokes but uses familiar slangs to send the message across.
Dance In The Rain reminds us all of why we can’t just seem to not love 2face, as he provides a song that almost seems like a soundtrack to life. Speaking of life, life in Nigeria can be explained in the song In Your Eyes where 2face tackles the issues of crooked and deceptive politicians, police brutality, and on a switch to a happy ending the dream of unity within religions, love and unity. The really nice beat comes from Jay Sleek. Freedom Is Life has a beat that gets the blood flowing once again and even though it’s not entirely a dance track, the upbeat tempo sure inserts a some charge.
It’s easy to tell that 2face is definitely in love with his fiancée, and you don’t need a magician to tell you that. Just listen to the words of the lead single of the album, My Rainbow. On that note, a song that will definitely make a wedding dance floor is the track Dance Floor which falls in line with the current house music craze. This will get any dance floor jumping from Europe to Africa, Asia to the Americas.
The first song that didnt completely wow me, even though it’s still not bad, is Keep On Pushing. A little bit of a generic party song, but in the club will probably still get the job done. The opposite of the generic sound from Keep On Pushing is Ihe Neme that is as refreshing as songs come. From the familiar lyrics (“whether from kano, shege yaro”) to the beat that seems to have an extra detail in it (shout out to Jay sleek), the song puts us back on track for what will be the last lap of our journey through Away & Beyond.
The last lap of the journey doesn’t really start off on a great note, as Omo No Dulling featuring Dammy Krane, & Rocksteady comes off as a forced Hypertek group song which doesn’t fit into the album. It’s pretty decent but doesn’t seem like it belongs. A quick recovery from 2face though as he comes with Becca on a highly infectious pseudo-highlife song in Bad Man Bad Girl, and after that the album ends with a song that was previously released, Chemical Reaction featuring Naeto C.
2face has always been more mature than his peers when it comes to music making, but in this album he takes it a step further by widening that gap between him and “the others.” With productions from J-Sleek, Femi Ojetunde, Spellz, Dark Secret and more, this album doesn’t lack in originality and freshness. It’s easy to see why 2face is where he is today in the music industry despite several setbacks that would normally derail a lot of entertainers.
Like any other album it has its misses, but even those could be highlights on other albums, but all in all Away & Beyond is a great album, and one that is as close to his face 2 face album in terms of originality. After to listening to this, it’s hard to go back and listen to the more generic sounds that have flooded the Nigerian music industry lately.
ALBUM RATING: 8.5/10
TRACK LISTEN: Ihe Neme