After his performance last Thursday, Azubuike Chibuzor Nelson, better known as Phyno, joined a coveted list of charismatic Nigerian performers as 2 Baba, Omawumi, Falz, Flavour, and Wande Coal, to host the Trace Live Concert series at Terra Kulture.
Themed Trace Live: Deal with It, the March concert draws its tagline from the rapper's third solo studio album 'Deal with It', which was released last year. In the tradition of Trace Live that lends a stage to artistes to promote their latest efforts, as well as highlight their rich discographies that span years, Phyno leaps on the series to extend the reach of the hip hop-centric 'Deal with It', thus, stimulating an audience outside of the south-east region of Nigeria.
With fears of the COVID-19 pandemic, attendees were left with a doubt of whether the show would hold. These uncertainties posed by the contagion, however, were quelled by the organisers who ensured safety health measures were in place. Each guest was taken through a routine of hand sanitising, either with soap and water or hand sanitisers. A health professional was on ground to ensure the implementation of the practice.
Prior to Phyno's performance, the audience was treated to a brief stand-up from comedian Pencil. While they were still reeling in laughter, Phyno emerged on stage, donning a black tracksuit, black singlet, and black trainers with red accents, ready to switch to ghost mode. His sudden appearance elicited loud cheers from the frenzied crowd.
Complete with a live band, the rapper charged the atmosphere with the critically acclaimed 'Alobam' anthem. Punctuated with his simple delivery style that was emboldened by his large stage presence, he proceeded to perform other top tracks from all his solo projects dating back to 2014's 'No Guts, No Glory', up to his 2019's offering.
Promoting excellence in music on the local scene, Trace Live, a collaborative venture between media enterprise TRACE and Bolanle Austen-Peters (BAP) productions, over the years have brought artistes in an intimate setting with their fans. The current edition repeats this custom, allowing fans of the rapper to experience his unique style of making music up-close and personal. The call-and -response between the performer and his audience was indicative of the level of connection they had with his music.
A special moment was when he explained the backstory behind the recording of 'Man of the Year', a track which eventually earned him a win in the Best Rap Single category at the 2013's Headies. Beckoning on Jude, who sat next to Rudeboy, he relayed a tale of how generously he funded 'Man of the Year' project to the tune of a million naira. Moments like these further revealed their close-knit relationship as friends and colleagues.
If the crowd was likened to spectators at a market square in an Igbo folklore, Rudeboy (Paul Okoye), Jude Engees Okoye, KCEE, and Zoro were the high chiefs present at such momentous occasions. The lot came out to support his gig. Occasionally, he paid special attention to his friends who were seated in the front row.
With a decade under his belt as a mainstream act, the rapper remains true to his style; promoting local culture through his songs that are laden with Nigerian vernaculars. What remains impressive is how over the years, he has managed to stay relevant on the music scene. One way he achieves this is by exploring trends in contemporary music.
Certainly, his performance that evening was nothing short of pure gusto that helped set the stage on fire.