With Huncho Vibez, Peruzzi backs up his superstar swag with the music it deserves
2018 was a huge year for Peruzzi, the artist who had been hanging around the industry corners actively for at least half a decade eventually got his breakthrough when he was introduced as the latest addition to Davido’s DMW ensemble with bangers like ‘Mind’ and ‘Aje.’
He then went on to deliver a madness on 2face’s ‘Amaka’ and like the fourth leg runner in a relay race with the baton in his hand, Peruzzi never looked back even though the finish line was nowhere in sight.
His career has however not followed the ‘perfect’ trajectory that the early signs suggested, a lackluster EP and a bucket load of controversies from the little drama of what label he was actually signed on, to his not-so-smart outburst following Teni’s ‘Best New Artist’ award at the Soundcity MVP Awards early in the year, and then being trolled for slapping an online influencer, who he later apologized to.
But through it all, Peruzzi has never shied away from telling anyone who cares to listen, that he was all bags of talent plus more. I remember him walking in on my interview with his producer, Speroach at the DMW studio and during my little exchange with him, he kept uttering the words, ‘‘I dey come, dem go hear am,’’ as he sat behind the little keyboard and hit the keys expertly while singing like a passionate kid falling in love with his new toy.
Born Tobechukwu Victor Okoh, Peruzzi has been marketed as the lover boy songwriter with a thuggish charm and whether through releasing snippets of his recording sessions or him constantly smoking and looking dapper in shiny outfits, he has perfected this image, only falling short on the most critical check, his solo CV of mainstream successful songs.
Like other members of his label, Peruzzi had embarked on the less risky path with his sound, hugging the safe horizons of familiar producers and lazy dip into trending sounds, but to be in the conversation that he felt he deserved, he needed to be more, to be authentic, learning when to take on every feature and having his sound saturated and when to step back and nurture it.
Even though it is less than a year since he released his first body of work, he doesn’t look over his shoulders with fears, but instead, with boundless enthusiasm, he attempts to make his mark as a truly dynamic artist with the release of his official debut album.
‘Huncho Vibez’ is just about the apt title for this album. We are in the era where very few do genres and everyone does ‘Vibes,’ but there are levels to it and that which Peruzzi offers sits higher on the rung, but not on the top just yet. While many are however quick to present meaningless and drawn-out songs, lacking in identity or decipherable words as ‘Vibes’, ‘Huncho Vibez’ is actually built on everything Peruzzi is all about; love, clear melodies and then more love anthems colored in catchy one-liners.
His late 2018 debut, ‘Heartwork’ was fine. [Read my review here], but it suffered from a number of factors, particularly; being unvarying, lacking a punch to match his hype and very bad timing, but it was not a totally hopeless launching pad, it served its purpose and gave us the hit, ‘Majesty,’ a song that also shaped the direction of his music.
And while he had over five featured artists on the EP, something he has often been criticized for, his debut album features only one guest appearance, with many of the flaws from the earlier effort absent here.
On first listen, ‘Huncho Vibez’ is a notable progression on ‘Heartbreak,’ not a departure from it and what he sought to achieve. Some songs yet sound the same, collapsing easily into one another, while some promised much, but delivered barely enough, with his songwriting confined, but this time there is a cohesive edge that provides it with a more intriguing fit, like one who has found his lane and is confidently sticking to it, an upgrade of a sort.
There are few ways better to open an album than ‘Destiny,’ the atmospheric chants are engulfing, the spoken words/prophecy, the tension building with the drums as it expands into a full insatiable groove.
Show Me Love’ is an ideal follow-up as he narrates how he had to ‘hustle and get this money’ while giving all thanks to God.
‘Bounce’ maintains the momentum as it showcases the sentimental undercurrent present throughout the album. Peruzzi delights with his intricate soft vocals ability, like man’s showing off on this song, while ‘Sunshine’ with Davido succeeds for two particular reasons; Davido’s ‘under the radar’ immense improvement on recent songs [Which makes his upcoming sophomore album one I really look forward to] and how effortlessly and faultlessly the duo have formed a partnership in as many collaborations.
The album’s apex moments comes in form of the thematically kindred songs, ‘Only One’ and ‘Nana’, while the former lures you in easily, built on simplistic lyrics like ‘‘This night you’re looking nice, I like food and you looking rice,’’ which though weird, works remarkably well and dramatically captivating, Peruzzi’s brilliance however climaxes with Nana, the pre-released single that personifies his sound; playful yet sweetly experimental, one that at first listen seems inspired from a random freestyle session then framed into a three minutes glistening masterpiece.
‘Huncho Vibez,’ however, falls short not just in production which on occasion are unmemorable, but with the second half of the tape lacking the energy of the first five songs, even though ‘Mauriello’ is another standout. A song like ‘Gumbodi’ should have never left the recorded folder and for the potential that Peruzzi possesses, this may not be the ‘Mushin 2 Mohits’ or ‘Superstar’ type debut album that challenges the boundaries of today’s pop-genre, but this is THE album that he desperately needed to deliver, a proper introduction to his becoming.
He scores points for crafting a number of relatable emotional tracks that are simultaneously quite danceable and candid representation of his strengths.
Befittingly, the albums final track, ‘No Be Mistake’ is produced by his long-time partner and friend, Speroach, who has aided his journey and evolution, and as the lyrics suggest, ‘‘I dey talk as I dey do am, I dey do as I dey talk,’’ it is evident that Peruzzi doesn’t need any help or features, he is a superstar all by himself and now he has the body of work to back it up.
Listen to Huncho Vibez HERE