Have you ever come across a work of art and thought to yourself, "If only the whole world will see and experience it the way I have?". That was how I felt when I listened to upcoming Nigerian rapper, Kristal's debut body of work Kristal Clear mixtape. The Kristal Clear mixtape is a collection of all the songs Kristal has ever released. You know that moment when an artist begins to actually work on his own songs after convincing himself that he wants to do music full time? That is actually the type of songs Kristal included in this body of work. Songs in that category are usually not up to taste, are flawed, or are almost always half baked. But these songs are also usually the most precious to these upcoming artists, and hold the most endearing stories of them. The songs in the Kristal Clear mixtape are like that in a way, but are different in an interesting way. While they are his very first works in music, they show so much maturity and experience on his part. The Kristal Clear mixtape is not your regular music project. It is a carefully created body of work that seeks to entertain and educate it’s consumers. It is a crystal clear message for everyone to sit up and adjust to the new ways of doing things that actually work, and it spares no one, not even Kristal himself. It contains 10 tracks made up of two skits, two refixes, and six originals. The project features his boss who also doubles as the project’s executive producer, Yung Roc, and another Nigeria born rapper, Pohzitive of Imo State origin. Production credits goes to producer Dcube Tha Beatkilla, and it was mixed and mastered by Yung Roc at the beats by Roc studios in Imo State, Nigeria.
It opens with a humored version of what sometimes happens with the work of the Nigeria Police Force, with the title "Pholice". That introductory skit tells the story of how unequipped the Nigeria Police Force is and how some of its officers shy away from their duties when they receive distress calls from citizens, but are not equipped to tackle them. Instead they resort to making excuses just so as not to endanger their own lives while trying to save others. Now while that is true, it is not a generalized notion. The Nigeria Police Force, though unequipped, has sometimes too proven to be very useful in tackling crime. But the mixtape focuses on reawakening everyone's minds to sit up and do the right thing in different aspects of life, not sparing anyone. It follows in this narrative with subsequent tracks like "Welcome To Owerri", "Which Way", and "Blow", correcting flawed impressions and notions that the society has, through no fault of theirs, come to accept and agree with. For example, "Welcome To Owerri" talks about the lawless lifestyle of Owerri, a city in Imo State, Nigeria, and where Kristal grew up, which is hugely influenced by yahoo boys (scammers and internet fraudsters) and runs girls (enlightened prostitutes), and the popular deceptive “My People My People chant of the ex-governor of the State, Rochas Okorocha, and it's unusually resounding response, “Our Governor, Our Governor” by the people, which many in the state have now found to be deceptive and a means to patronize and defraud them. By talking about these everyday experiences of the ordinary man in his environment, Kristal showed a high level of responsibility and commitment to awaken his listeners. The second skit and accompanying track "Blow", clears the air on the issue of entitlement that surfaces almost always in romantic relationships, usually with the ladies but not restricted to them alone. And in this case, Kristal himself was the victim, seeking to blow (become successful) just to be able to provide the good things of life for himself and his woman. Because of this, a lot of young people have been misled, even put their lives at risk just to be able to live the ‘good life’. So the mixtape did come at the right time.
Other tracks like "Kod" and "Humble" are refixes of works by rappers Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole and others, and are a great show off of some rap skills. Probably the best track of the mixtape, "Lucky You" will have you think it was performed by arguably the fastest rapper in the world, Twista, but it's not. That was actually Kristal. And to his greatest surprise, Twista did give Kristal a shout on social media after listening to that track. That shout out was a huge thing for Kristal at the time who was looking for some kind of validation on his style of music and it did indeed give him the confidence and validation he was looking for. That motivated him to swing into action immediately and embark on another body of work which according to him will be released in the later part of this year (2019). Kristal may be upcoming but he's got what it takes to go mainstream, and at a time when the Nigerian music scene is begging for real rappers who are actually passionate about the game, Kristal will definitely find a spot for himself up there. The Kristal Clear mixtape closes with a rather long track for an Outro. In all, the this mixtape is a fine show off of some rap skills but it bares up all our imperfections and spares no one.