There are two iconic Kaduna hotels that have long been symbols of Northern hospitality – Durbar hotel and Hamdala hotel. Back in their heyday, governors, heads of states, expats and powerful business people called the twin hotels home whenever they found themselves in the 062. The plush hotels were not only the favorite of the high and mighty, they also became the focal point around which almost everything fun and exciting about the city happened.

Durbar was created in FESTAC 77 but Hamdala is much older and was commissioned around Independence. Sadly, whereas Durbar Hotel is now a relic having withered under years of mismanagement, Hamdala has continued to remain an important, albeit aged, cultural reference point for Croc City. On his new EP Hotel: Hamdala, Afro fusion artist Musmah introduces the grand ole’ hotel to a new generation, while chronicling the highs and lows of loving dangerously in a city after his cold heart.

Durbar and Hamdala Hotels

Kaduna has changed a lot since the 70’s and 80’s, millennials are now spoiled for choice. There are 1,001 more places to see and to be seen, this David Angel-produced EP plays like a hop through the best ones. Ali Baba is one of them. Musmah loves the trendy spot so much he wrote an entire interlude about it. An irate lover gives the singer a piece of her mind over his womanizing ways – she wants something serious but all the singer wants to do is smoke shisha at Ali Baba and take her home afterwards. Typical KD boy behaviour. You can feel her anger as she switches from Spanglish to Spanish to make her point but Musmah’s calm voice is so disarming I won’t be surprised if she dropped all her demands and followed him right afterwards.

That short interlude divides the EP into 2 equal parts, a before and after Ali Baba. On “That Girl”, before Ali Baba, Musmah tells stories of other long nights around town. On one night in particular, he talks about how he was driving around in the company of twin girls, with dubious thoughts clouding his mind and strong haze gradually filling up his rented car. The girls were new to the KD nightlife but Musmah isn’t, so don’t ask me how he allowed a policeman at a roadside checkpoint perceive the weed smoke coming from the car and force him to part with N600, but he did.  

A number of Musmah’s decisions were inspired by women – good or bad. On “Sweet & Sour”, for instance, he talks about how stressing over unstable relationships caused him to start smoking more cigarettes, among other decisions he’s not proud of, and on “Ginger Me”, he laments about not being able to afford the lifestyle his lady desires. Conversely, on “Designer”, he boasts about how those same expensive tastes inspire him to work hard – the demands of intense and materialistic love affairs are eating Musmah up slowly, while simultaneously keeping him alive.

Currently based in the States, Musmah’s chilled out sound borders between hip-hop and R&B, with clever local influences that bring his message all the way home, literally. He possesses a gentle voice that enables him transition from rapping to singing in half a bar. You’d appreciate how gentle it is when you contrast his low-octane verses on “Designer” to Mr. Eazi’s boisterous chorus.

I must wear designer, I must drive Ferrari

I must to buy Bugatti, I must to shop for my mummy

You know say getting money is a must oh (it’s a must oh)

And everybody know say me I no dey dull

This record deserves a push on local radio and should be the new Get Money anthem for 2017 for the Africa man. But for Musmah, keeping his woman happy at all costs, including his wealth and wellbeing, is the paradox of his love life. Likening his bittersweet relationships with women to Amaretto on “Sweet & Sour”, it’s obvious Musmah has a type of girl that he sings about throughout Hotel: Hamdala, whether that girl is good for him, or even good enough for him, is another matter.

Kaduna isn’t the only city where Musmah is having fun and meeting up with Ms. Right Now, in the past, he’s told about escapades in Mississauga, Ontario to Maitama, Abuja. Furthermore, Hamdala isn’t the only reference to Arewa history that you’d find on this project, listen through and you might be surprised to hear him reference a few more.  

Even though Musmah is a millennial and is currently based in the US, he’s still able to tell captivating stories from the wild side of different parts of the world and use symbols from bygone eras. This gives his new project Hotel: Hamdala a breadth of experience and shows an appreciation for culture well beyond his young years.