The wells of talent that the people of Jos drink from may well know no limits. One visitor to the well has drawn from its waters once more to bless all who care to partake with a surprise spoken world album, shortly after winning the Jos Gospel Art and Music Awards (JOGAMA) award for best spoken word poet two years in a row. On the 2nd of December, 2017, the one-time Abuja Literary Society (ALS) Poetry Slam champ and Architect put up links on his social media pages to his debut poetry (and hip-hop) album, a 6-tracker titled Handwriting.
The impulsiveness of the album’s release is however missing in the content as there is nothing impulsive about putting together such a body of work. The Red Cap Poet™ — Ruddapoet — (real name: Rudolph Adidi) makes a good attempt at conveying the album title in the cover art. Ruddapoet features other poets and musicians, production credit is given to Surgeon and Augsburg, and mixing and mastering credits to Surgeon.
Handwriting makes an attempt to provoke thought and emotion on matters of love, country, crisis, God, and growth, basically, elements of the human condition. The gentle sound of an instrumental can be heard on most of the tracks, sitting comfortably in the background, setting the right ambience to listen to the words, giving the poetry a necessary musicality to help ease the unfamiliar listener. The themes of the album are not lost on the first track, “Letter to My Math Teacher”.
Ruddapoet tries to portray elements of the human condition in relation to numbers and mathematical concepts, but falls short by a few tick. He uses dates and stats of some crisis that have happened in the country, mostly those that have happened north of the Niger, to paint pictures, he makes attempts at mathematical metaphors, and makes a case that humans and the human condition are more than statistical representations. Although, his delivery of the idea falls short with a few poorly-structured metaphors that cause discontinuity in his tale and a recording performance that falls short of the wordsmith’s ability. A beautiful idea and great production had set the blueprint and foundation for a 5-star track, but recording and some unpolished content made it miss the mark.
“Sleep in Peace” is for children who have to experience the ugliness of humanity. Ruddapoet mostly paints a picture of a life lived under dark clouds of fear, and how it may feel to grow under such skies.
Love is a difficult topic to write about, but, between Augsburg’s strings, Mercy’s beautiful voice, and Ruddapoet’s words, an energy triangle was built and love was not done a disservice by being placed in its middle. The rhythm and texture of Rudolph’s voice as complemented by the strums of a guitar makes this a peace bringing listen.
“Morticians” features Sango and Grandsun, we don’t hear Ruddapoet on this. Sango starts off the song in an energetic elegy in Yoruba delivered to native percussions, words heavy with similar consonant sounds give the piece an alliterative pleasantness setting a pace for the head bobbing Hip Hop instrumental that breaks in for Grandsun to style on. Grandsun address the Nigerian situation in an intelligent rap verse whose flow complements the strengths of the beat; if there’s a crime that this track commits, it has to be that it is too short.
“Communication” might be Rudolph’s most thought out piece on the LP. Intro to set the mood, choir humming harmoniously to set a bed for the poet to lay his words as he paints pictures of some of the ways we communicate with each other and how he believes we communicate with God.
The Handwriting LP closes with Drift, a track that doesn’t taste vocal input from Ruddapoet, but we enjoy Leonell, who puts his voice to a metred and well cadenced piece of poetry that graces a solemn instrumental. This comes after an intro that set the stage for a commentary and proffer of solutions to the dips in the human condition.
Ruddapoet delivers his own commentary and thoughts on aspects of the human and Nigerian condition in a well produced EP, and even when it’s not in his voice, or his words, this EP is in his handwriting.