If you’re not familiar with this artist, Riflex is an afrobeats/afrotrap rapper, producer, engineer, and even podcast host, hailing from Cameroon. He started in music by writing poems to get girls in school and it eventually transformed into rapping. He’s been putting in work in the kitchen, releasing standout songs like “With You” and “Non-Stop” but now we have a finished full course meal, a 5 track project aptly titled “Summer Jollof”. (The Jollof on the cover looks Nigerian so it’s already a classic to me). But how spicy is this Jollof? find out below.
1. “Unconditional” – Wow, what a way to start the project. I love this song. The first thing that stands out to me is the amazing production. It’s a mellow and calm feeling but the bass gives the track an unstoppable head bop. On the track, Riflex is talking that talk to a his love interest, much like he used to do with his poems. The second verse shows a glimpse of how culturally aware he is, mixing Nigerian and Ghanaian languages in his raps. Despite where you fall between the Ghana vs Naija Jollof war, this is still impressive. Even more amazing is the voice on the chorus. Her voice was as smooth and sultry as you can ask for and it sounded perfect on the production. She isn’t credited on the tracklist but I just had to find out who she was. Upon doing some research, I discovered this song. “Unconditional” by Rapper T-Shawn features the same name, beat, and chorus (by Breana Marin). I’m not sure how but this does happen in the music industry, where artists get the same beat at the same time and they both put them out. However, finding this out was like going to a party and eating Ghanaian Jollof when they told you it was Nigerian.
Update: Riflex has commented that this was originally a Youtube beat and it came with the hook.
2. “Fine Gyel” – Upon the first 3 seconds of pressing play, I was immediately reminded of Mr. Eazi’s “Leg Over“. In fact, I had to go back and double check it wasn’t the same beat again. Regardless of similarities, I’m not mad at it, this song is a hit. Riflex has been brushing up on his Yoruba vernacular and created a jam for the afrobeats parties. Definitely one to “run it back”, but not too much as the “Fine gyal” topic has been reused over and over again, it may get repetitive.
3. “Don’t Care” – I’m not certain which language he raps simultaneously with English but it’s really impressive that it still flows and rhymes. This is another calm and nostalgic vibe as he raps about how people can change up on you, once you’ve reached a certain level. This track may have been more suitable for a “Winter Jollof” if there is going to be one. This is the song you play when the Jollof at the party is finished but you’ve already secured the bag with a takeaway plate already tucked away.
4. “Lowkey” – Another jam. 4 songs in, if there’s one thing I’ve learned so far is that Riflex has a good ear for beats (S’Bling on Da Track on this one). His inner Yoruba Demon is showing, persuading his love interest to keep things on the low. He’s not hiding his girl from the world, he’s hiding the world from his girl. Jokes aside, this would have been the perfect time to feature another afrobeats artist or two. Maybe it’s not too late for a remix?
5. “Elevator” – Another favorite song from the project. Riflex is in his bag with this one, that “abeg jor just give me my space” line killed me. The “scammer / shaku shaku on the matter” line was a great bar. Once again, it sounds like Breana on the hook again and its perfect synergy. I could see the song being sent to OVO to be used for Drizzy’s sweatshop – it’s that good. This track deserves a music video.
Overall, Summer Jollof accomplished exactly what it was meant to do, give out a feel-good summer vibe that people can simply rock to. It’s interesting to hear different languages and cultural similarities packed in a 5 track project but it goes to show how Cameroon and Nigeria share more than just a border. A guest verse would have been interesting, especially on “Lowkey”. “Don’t Care”, although a great song, didn’t really sound like it matched the tone of the project.
3.5 plates of Jollof out of 5.
Listen to the album below!