FCE Album Spotlight Review: Jovi’s "16 Wives"

Artist: Jovi
Background: Jovi is a rap artist who has pioneered a new age of Hip Hop music in Cameroon that has successfully fused raw African instruments and rhythms with sounds from trap music, contemporary hip hop, RnB and electronic music. A style he calls “Mboko”.  His multilingual delivery that combines Pidgin English and French connects his roots firmly to the people on the street.  Jovi has maintained a consistent rise since his debut album in 2012, H.I.V (Humanity is Vanishing).  He produces all of his work under the pseudonym, “Le Monstre” and established his record label – New Bell Music which has developed other prominent artists including Reniss, Tata, Lor, DJ Mathematic, RCHL, Pascal & Shey.
Jovi encompasses the qualities we like to see in an artist.  He has figured out how to take his artistry to the masses without compromising the message or form and has maintained an ownership structure that guarantees control over production while building a team of very talented artists under his wing.
Album: 16 Wives

Album Art: The album cover photo is simply dope.  It is unique and compliments Jovi’s afrocentric elements.  The idea is the 16 Wives are really the 16 tracks on the album.  For someone who is literally married to his artistry, this comes as no surprise.
The album opens up with the track ”Free Music”. Though not impressive for a relatively good album, it quickly picks up steam with the hit record “Ou Même”. A track that captures all the elements that make Jovi’s music stand out from the crowd.  It incorporates the very danceable rhythms from Bikutsi, an original Cameroonian sound that would keep the dance floor hot for years to come.  Track #4: “Tchana Pierre” pays tribute to a Cameroonian music pioneer from the 1980s and makes for an OK laid-back drive-around night car music.  Jovi blesses us again with another banger “Mongshung” that captures a raw hip hop street feel.
On the track “Workmanship”, Jovi recruits the help of his fellow rapper, Pascal, whose flow rides the head bumping beat effectively.  The track emphasizes the work ethic that is needed to be great at what you do – a message for the kids in this world of many quick money schemes.  Pascal also features on the track “How Many So Many”.  The record slows down a bit with the next two tracks: “No Man” & “Slave Ships”.  The later uses a smooth choir vocal sample that rings of Africa.
Reniss lends her beautiful pipes for the track “50-50” that taps into the similar sonic rhythms from Bikutsi that worked magic for her hit record “La Sauce” (also produced by Jovi, aka “Le Monstre”) that has become an anthem in Cameroonian parties all over the world.
The album winds down with a series of tracks that could have used some work to make them more memorable.  “Chubaka” is a laid-back track reminiscent of the MC Solar era of French Hip Hop.  Jovi pays tribute to yet another Cameroonian legend, Tom Yoms, on the track appropriately called “Tom Yoms”, by sampling the vocals of one of his popular songs, then giving it rap bounce to bring it into this era.  Jovi pours his heart out on “Why God” singing on the hook and delivering verses that speak to the struggle he has overcome to get to where he is today.  A similar theme continues on the next track “On Est Bien”.  The album concludes with the heart-felt “Mad Love-Hospital Bills” that reminisces on a beloved girlfriend he misses who may have passed on from a medical tragedy.
Overall, Jovi stays true to the core of what he has always been about – giving us a peep into his world through effective storytelling with a few head bangers to keep the clubs and streets satisfied.  Some of the instrumental choices made on the more laid-back tracks are a bit generic or not bold enough.  However, Jovi’s lyrical delivery is strong and clear as always.
FCE Album Spotlight Score: 7/10
Support good music and purchase or download Jovi’s album “16 Wives” on iTunes and bandcamp.

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