If Steven Caise’s goal with this album was to showcase his versatility, he ticks most boxes except just one
The early 2010’s marked the emergence of a wave of new sounds on the music scene in Nigeria. Burna Boy’s Afrofusion sound in particular unlocked a novel template that is still been replicated by several artists, all to varying degrees of success. One of such artists you should know about today is Steven Caise. For guys like him, these are two likely outcomes: when the music connects, it’s easily embraced because it builds on a familiar sound. If it doesn’t, the average music critic is quick to quip “artist x lacks originality” at every chance they get. No matter what side you are on, one thing is for sure: good music doesn’t lie.
I was first introduced to Steven Caise’s music last December through his FELAWITHTHESWAG release. I remember thinking to myself that his sound was clearly reminiscent of the early days of a certain grammy-winning Nigerian artist. So going into Steven’s debut album, Against All Odds, the question I sought to find an answer to was: how much of himself will he bring into the album?
On this debut project, Steven Caise touches on a variety of topics ranging from economic hardship, mental health, fast life, and the usual suspect, love. If Dice Ailes is Otedola with the money, Steven is Fela with the swag but sonically he’s in a different lane on FELAWITHTHESWAG. He displays some inventiveness in his songwriting as he hopes to spark some courage in the listener. His brand of political activism motivates you to stand up for your right in a suppressive society even as much as it makes you bump your head to the music.
I get some sort of high when I see song titles named after women. On Monalisa he’s joined by GUNZOE to sing about a romantic tie that “just wants to party with a guy like him“. With a mellow delivery, GUNZOE delivers a well-timed verse that brings much needed variety to the project. Clearly, Monalisa is here for the fast life, but it’s admirable to see she’s at least genuine with her intention. Take a cue from her, guys 🙂
Steven Caise alludes to ambition & work ethic when he says “I’ve been on my grind for the past 7 years” on Society. Sonically, the song has a nice bounce to it and PapiGunzo mix drew mental comparisons with Leriq in me. Steven details the hustle to thrive in the Nigerian environment. Few of his lines on this song got lost in my ears, as I couldn’t pick out words from his patois delivery. Maybe patois is too advanced for me. But while I struggled to pick out words from Society, the story is different on album closer Trips. In my opinion, his delivery here is the most refined across the album’s 8 tracks. Steven Caise gets deep in his bag as he croons imaginable but relatable lines like “…say she wants a brother in her life, but she don’t wanna be a wife, so me I give her the long thing” I stan this record, and it’s the (my) standout track from the project as all the elements align best on this song. He sounds the most comfortable as he lays different melodies all over the PapiGunzo produced beat.
If Steven’s goal with this album was to showcase his versatility, he ticks most boxes except one – the project doesn’t offer much in terms of radio or club anthems. And in the field he’s playing on, there’s enough evidence to suggest that a radio & club-ready tune can potentially be the game changer to open him up to a larger audience. With Against all Odds, Steven Caise brings enough of himself to be on your radar. With more experimentation in the studio churning out songs and some informed decisions in the A&R department, the future seems bright for Steven Caise. Only time will tell.