Tomi Thomas — Patience

Artist: Tomi Thomas
Album: Patience EP
Label, Year: Tomi Thomas, 2014

Cover art for Patience, an EP by Tomi Thomas
Cover art for Patience, an EP by Tomi Thomas

Despite a pile of evidence to the contrary, there remains a segment of the pop audience that believes sex is the great divider. The good ones don't sing about the topic; the bad ones can't help themselves.

This, of course, ignores the output of Prince; the sentiment ignores ‘In the Closet’ by Michael Jackson. It ignores Banky W and his American ancestor R. Kelly, purveyors of the sex jam. It ignores James Brown and Fela, manic sex-gods. It ignores the sex-as-therapy of Marvin Gaye. It ignores some cuts from R&B group Boyz II Men, as it discounts Beyoncé. It ignores ‘Fe Mi’ by Brymo.

Because sex-singing is itself promiscuous and readily accepting new practitioners there's a new guy to drop in: Tomi Thomas, a Nigerian artist based in Dubai. His EP Patience is half-filled with several sex-cuts. A young man, his sexual concerns are about himself. "She came over and over...Baby do you want another round?" he sings on ‘Over and Over’.

Same song has, "she screaming your highness your love I can't deny." On Dirty: he puts words (and who knows what else) into his partner's mouth: "I love it when you get me to the point I wanna scream I don't care who's watching." The song 'Sleeping Over' has an explanatory title. On ‘Suka Musica’, he appears to have noticed that sex doesn't have to be self-worship, as he offers a variation: he'll follow "all your orders."

Writing about these songs might give off the impression that the listener will tire out. Not at all. If the themes don’t change so much, the production does. ‘Suka Musica’ is a house number impossible to sit still to. The hook is made of electronic jump-cuts with metallic hand claps. It is also made up of the words 'come, come, come'—a comingling of the lusty concerns of a young man and the repetition that is part of electro-music's grab-bag.

The terrific ‘Lalala (Imagine That)’ features an electronically-altered applause and shout; it is also one of the album’s deviations from sex. The song shows clearly that this delightful EP owes some of its pleasure to the producers Bankyondbeatz, GMK and Benie Macaulay. The most famous producer on the album is Leriq but, as indication of the quality of the EP, he is hardly noticeable. 

‘Over and Over’ starts slow and builds up to a crescendo. ‘Dirty’ is a straighter R and B song with electronic deviations. There's a broody background with piano chords. Each of these songs are delightful. The sound of electronic production binds them together. The theme of sex without context brings them all together as either the fantasy of a young man, how he wishes sex would be—or, a portrait of the wanton sex available to our singing hero. Not like there's a great line between both. The hedonism reaches its zenith as the LP winds down as drugs are added to the sex. So that the album is, in part, a document of youth and excess.

There's a track that can pass for a pure love song, ‘Again.’ But it sidesteps the saccharine mess of the typical ballad. About as close to a ballad as Mr Thomas gets, the song gives the impression that he is a hands-on, touch-feely boyfriend. "I'll never ever leave you," he says. "Just to hold you again. Hold you again."

As on other songs, he repeats those words. Here it has the extra effect of echoing the title. Indeed, one of Thomas's admirable qualities as a songwriter is how repetition in his lyrics are engaging even when almost clearly the result of lazy songwriting. Perhaps this is because his choruses feature a multi-word sentence. So that the repetition is doused by this other variety. In some instances, Thomas's repetition works within the story he tells. For example, on 'Over and Over', when he sings that "she came over and over," quite clearly the words work as emphasis of the singer's capacity for giving carnal delights.

For the song ‘MOM’, Thomas switches his concerns to another woman. A jokey track, the title refers to the chorus: I spend my money on my mummy. He employs Igbo highlife, long associated with a display of financial muscle, to tell us about his spending habits: apparently, all of the sex on the record aren't purchased. He may be, as he tells us, 'Mr Money' but it all goes to his mummy. He makes all the money for his mummy. The sound on the record is the clearest evidence of Thomas's ties to Nigeria; it is also the one you can tie to his family: he gets his mother Lizzy Thomas as a background singer. She acquits herself very nicely. Although one shudders to think her reaction to the other songs on the EP.

In any case, a man singing about sex may be unsurprising. But an EP of 15 songs is a strange thing. And that almost all of its tracks are commendable either for sound or songwriting is even more astounding. The 2015 EP released by Ice Prince was called Trashcan—a title Twitter had fun with. That is what today's EP are: a selection of songs not strong enough for a studio release with one or two stronger cuts. Keep your name with the audience while something stronger is in the works.

With Tomi Thomas, the conceit of releasing something this remarkable and at such length as an EP suggests an artist who thinks that somewhere inside of himself is something greater than this record. "They always underrating," he sings on 'Lalala (Imagine That)'. What can one say to that? Well, whoever underrates Tomi Thomas hasn't yet listened to Patience. Ignorance is not bliss; visit the man's Soundcloud page.

If you are filled with gratitude after listening, don't thank me. Thank Tomi Thomas.



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