For Osayaba Ize-Iyamu, better known by fans and peers as “Cruel Santino”, making the transition from the calmer brand of Afro and Alternative pop sounds of his 2019 LP – Mandy and The Jungle, to the more vibrant (for the most part), otherworldly and eclectic sounds of his latest LP, and the bedrock of his fictional sea world anime – SUBARU BOYS: final heaven could not have been a light task.
As he displayed on Mandy and The Jungle, the artist formerly known as just “Santi” and his team have a sharp eye for selecting his supporting cast. 2022’s SUBARU BOYS: final heaven, was an assemblage of old faces like Amaarae, and new ones like Jamaican reggae prodigy Koffee.
The creative process for a project as immersive as SUBARU BOYS: final heaven, consists of many layers and contributions - some prominent, some behind the scenes.
Making use of 12 guest appearances and 11 producers (including himself), Cruel Santino managed to lay the auditory bricks for his thoroughly designed “Subaru World”. The project was executively produced by the dynamic pairing of Grammy nominated Quddus King aka GMK and Demilade Akin-Alabi aka Genio Bambino. The duo, also going by the title – “Monster Boys” have admitted that producing, mixing and mastering songs on a heavily conceptual album like this was more fun to work on than challenging because Santino had created an atmosphere for all hands that were selected to be on deck understood the vision. GMK says that what Santi does is send a playlist to the team, so that they all understand the direction it is supposed to and it becomes really fun to do from there.
According to Genio, the collaborators helped make a clearer picture of the Subaru World. He believes that the album took its collaborators out of their respective comfort zones and the result was a sonic exploration that blends into itself quite seamlessly. The songs on the album were arranged into arcs, following the running theme of worldbuilding. Each song is designed to fit into an arc, and with a meticulously selected supporting cast, it makes for more than just a musical project.
As far as the collaborative soundscape of Nigerian and African music is concerned, the Monster Boy duo have very high hopes. GMK is impressed with the fact that more established acts are opting to seek out lesser known producers and acts and believes that the merging of sounds across borders has unlimited potential to take the culture even further. Genio believes that good collaborations would take the sound and the culture far, but the focus should lean toward creating quality sound rather than numbers and acclaim. He is quoted saying
“Money and numbers are important, but the sound comes first”.
The future of the art in Nigeria and Africa is brimming with potential and artists are beginning to realize the power of a well-planned collaborative effort.