By Alaaka Toby
The luxury alcohol brand, Hennessy, in what is now a yearly ritual, brings together an eclectic mix of musical talents to raise a glass to the skies and perform libation on the dance floor through its eponymous concert series, Hennessy Artistry.
Sometimes boom, other times bust, the new music made by the artistes selected by the Hennessy series of concerts threaten to make fans sing along and break a sweat in delirium. In return, the event which began in 2006, has shown little signs of bottling.
Last time out ‘Starboy’ Wizkid was on the same track with music icon, 2face Idibia—for the artistes it was a matter of balancing a surge in global acceptance and maintaining local relevance. As a collaboration of stars, this was as much a race to godhood for both artists as it was to exceeding past quality.
Boom or bust: the resulting song ‘Dance Go (Eau de vie)’ was a resounding club banger, and similar to cheap liquor: at once toxic, hypnotic, ubiquitous and un-putdownable. Except there is nothing cheap about Hennessy, the ‘eau de vie’ (French for water of life) in the title.
One would look hard to find rivalling percussions to Sarz’ beat, which set the song accelerating at leg-breaking speed, racing it to a soulful bridge, only to rise again in a fearsome crescendo (all in less than four minutes).
Contemporary Nigerian music gets much stick for its mostly threadbare lyrics, and both Tuface and Wizkid, though sang enjoyably, did little to quell the suspicion of the cynic. The lyrics move freely from the simple to banal hip hop big-talk.
They announce that ‘eau de vie na hiin matter’ (which approximates to ‘the drink is what matters’). It is a heat of the moment expression that oddly provides perspective to the fibrillation of bodies at a party; it is to say that the music, the dance, and everything in-between is in excess. In the spirit of the moment, the artists assume the role of priests, laying ground rules for a sacred dance floor, calling on fellow hedonists to a common confession: “if you feel what I feel, you've got to let me know.”
The earth spins, the song rolls forward and there are more calls for urgent action on and from the female body (the prime subject and object of all art). But by now all boundary lines are blurred, both man and woman may set down the bottle and take up the dance.