ALBUM REVIEW: Strength in Numbers – Navio
What do you do when you’ve done it all? When your talent and ability aren’t in question, when you have no one to compete against but the former versions of yourself. Imagine knowing that most people are trying their best to sprint up Naguru hill, racing to the top, hoping to get there fast, and yet you’ve climbed both Mount Rwenzori and The Kilimanjaro! It’s a whole different game, it’s a whole different battle. I can’t put myself in his shoes, but these are the exact thoughts that came to my mind as I played By Gones ft. Seyi Shay & Sheila Wya, the first track on Navio’s new Strength In Numbers album. That introduction was his invitation for us to join him at the top of the mountain and enjoy the view.
Hip Hop is not a genre that everyone can easily appreciate. There’s a lot that goes into making it go beyond the niche fan-base. One of these things is a great hook. If Navio was a rap super-hero, this would be one of his greatest super powers! No Doubt! With or without a feature, Navio is able to adjust and deliver the kind of hook that is necessary to catch your ear and draw your full attention. He did not hold back on this album. He delivers a variety of dope hooks; Hooks you can sing along to, hooks for you to couple-up and dance to, hooks for friends to vibe to, hooks for the lovers, hooks for the party, hooks in a couple of different languages…. There are no mistakes! Every hook has its purpose, it’s quite Klear, whether you’re listening to this album as a Hip Hop fan, a fan of music, or just a Navio fan. The hooks on this project elevate the listening experience.
This project isn’t what it is because of Navio alone. I mean, we all know Nav’s gonna Nav, but he didn’t just stop at that. We were treated to a number of collaborations that help take the album to the next level. He started off with the fire emoji intro featuring Seyi Shay and Sheila Wya, next he was trading super flows with Kenya’s Kaligraph Jones on Trophy Season. We got to hear soothing vibes on Nkwagala Omu with King Saha. We even had a surprise hook from producer extraordinaire Samurae on Lord There They Go. Vanessa Mdee, Joh Makini, Daddy Andre, Laylizzy, Ice Prince, The Mith And Burna Boy! The album is stacked with features! But just enough! Everything in the right dose, the right amount.
If you’ve listened to the album, you obviously know that I left out Flex D’Paper. The young rapper features twice on Strength In Numbers. Flex delivers a proper hip hop hook on the heavy hitting Abaana Beeka which also features Joh Makini. But he also shows a different side on the Bangi hook, perfectly complementing the singing from both Navio and Daddy Andre. These are arguably two of the biggest songs on the album, which is why Flex’s contribution needed a special mention.
Navio has always been one of Uganda’s and even Africa’s most complete rappers. His music remains relevant in so many aspects of the genre. Whether you’re looking for penmanship, flow, delivery… whatever the category, he fits into it. This versatility plays a role in the album experience. It’s easy to listen to it from start to finish. Fifteen songs in which he manages to give the listener a variety, one that works well together without sounding like it’s all over the place. The album meets all ends of the spectrum ranging from trappy vibes on Flank and Numbers, to the different afrobeat vibes on Kyekyo and the Gbesile remix.
Though it might not have some of his more iconic and timeless songs, I’m going to go ahead and say it’s the best listening experience I’ve had with ANY Navio album. And this is after how many years in the game? This is a solid album! Respect to Navio for having been in the game this long, and continuing to have the work ethic of a new comer that’s trying to make his way to the top. Listening to Strength in Numbers was worth every minute. The view at the top of this mountain did not disappoint!
You can order yourself a copy of the album via the SafeBoda app or stream the album online across all digital stores!