A Pass released his first album since the lockdown at the beginning of February. The 42 track album has rays of the direction he wants to take and bits of the Bagonza Ugandans embraced years ago.
Alexander Bagonza alias A-Pass is one of those local artistes that seem to take their careers in different ways. He for instance doesn’t release music to remain relevant; he can go for a year or two without releasing anything and then comes back with an album.
But that has not been the case of late though. A-Pass has been releasing a few songs though as he has been on it, including endorsing brands and having a few online fights, he was recording an intricate body of work.
A-Pass’s new album Bagonza in art comes off as poetry, yet, if we are to talk about food, it is a shot of whisky. It seems simple but can’t be rushed because there is a lot to unpack in just a shot.
A-Pass delivers 42 songs, which are about two hours of a mix of reggae, dancehall, soukous and a blend of RnB and soul delivered by the female artistes he has on board (and they are all female).
In a listening party at The Villa, he noted that the choice of artistes was deliberate, he was looking for people that have something different to offer and that’s how he somehow ended up in the capable hands Akiene, Likkle Bangi, Ceee and Alina Jaa.
But of course, even if it is not for an album, A-Pass is one mainstream artiste that has kept his door open for many new artistes, especially those whose sound is very different from the two beat patterns all radio stations in Kampala feed on.
Thus for every song such as Gamululu, there is an A-Pass song such as Omu alongside Joshua Baraka or My Way with Shawn Maine. In fact, there are many new school artistes people have learned about because A-Pass sang with them.
The fact that A-Pass is always venturing into uncharted territories keeps him ahead of his folks in the genre, he is always able to blend his dancehall with lots of new genres younger people are trying out.
His collaboration with Ceee, Touch You, is sonically abrasive borrowing from a number of genres and styles such as drill, industrial, acidic house and a bit of punk. It is the most ambitious song on the album that most of the time you feel like besides A-Pass and Ceee, the producer deserves a collaborational credit as well. He cooked right.
Love When We alongside Likkle Bangi must have been recorded for radio, easy on the ear and likeable, you don’t necessarily have to be experimental with music to at least move your head on this song.
A-Pass’s Bangonza is one of those Ugandan albums that takes itself more seriously than the ears meant to consume it, from the production values to the instrumentation, it is clear that he is onto something, but it takes someone that appreciates music.
Plus, the album is 42 songs, in all ways, even for people that love music, two hours dedicated to an album is a daunting task. The best way however is listening to it in two phases, the opening half and the second half.
Both halves have their strong moments that it is impossible to pick out which works better, however he manages to get the listener owning some of the messages in songs such as Like Ronaldo or Champion. In both songs he talks about winning even when he doesn’t get the recognition.
But the album generally jumps between themes that it becomes hard to know where his mind was while recording, I mean this is a man that talks about God on the same album he promises to make someone’s daughter vibrate like a telephone.
And in his own words, he recorded songs such as Lay You Down after admitting his dad to hospital, a near death scare, for many artistes, that would have driven them to write a song about Jesus or something, not A-Pass, he decided to write music about coitus. It seems the man holds his beliefs at the same standards.
And the album somehow works.
It gets repetitive at times but that’s something expected from 42 songs over two hours, somehow, you will forget if the first song has anything to do with song number 30, some songs sound like other A Pass songs that came out years ago, just don’t be caught singing Chupa ku Chupa instead of Falling – it is exhausting, but once you have a weekend, the dive is worth it.