Opinion Review

Fre-D and Le Prezident: Chelu

Like a fine Cuban with a peaty single malt, when artists of notably contrasting musical backgrounds coincide, beautiful things happen. Collaborations often yield nonsensical antics, such as artists throwing their absolute best cards on the table before the game has even begun. It’s all about how you play the cards you’ve been dealt, and in the game of cooperation, Port Elizabeth-based Le Prezident and Nigeria-born Fre-D can easily distinguish between excessive elaboration and optimality, a pairing that’s resulted in the bass-drenched, spherical-synth-induced ‘Chelu’.

Hailing from the windy city, Le Prezident, a.k.a. Winn-Yam Ayessaki, is least among the inexperienced. The artist’s accolades appear synonymous to the prestigious heavyweights he’s worked with himself, including The Kiffness, DJ Milkshake and Bisa Kedei. The impressive trajectory from dorm-room compositions to substantially notable festivals such as Earthdance stresses an integral undercurrent to Ayessaki’s persona: humbling determination and initiative.

Unlike Le Prezident’s dorm-room origins, Fre-D, a.k.a. Fred Chijindu Inaks Onianwa, derived his productive efforts from a 2011 freestyle competition in his hometown, Lagos. Being one of Gold Rush Records’ founders, the afro-dancehall, hip-hop artist’s musical efforts, experience and influence are firm and unyielding within the South African scene he’s immersed himself in. Fabricating content rich in textural progression and bona fide, relentless lyricism, Fre-D’s flight path is steady and seemingly unwavering.

‘Chelu’ marks not the first collaborative effort between the two songsmiths. In 2014, Fre’D and Le Prezident’s combined forte’s yielded ‘Mogbe’ and ‘Bandulu’. The success of both preceding tracks easily provoked exciting new content, and even an impending collective album “Bandulus”. With specific reference to their roots, the two emphasize throughout the deep bass-induced array of synth timbres within ‘Chelu’ that contrasting cultures can in itself encourage unity. Experimenting boldly with autotune and call-and-response movements, the duo effectively portray a mindset of jubilation and relief against all odds.

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Listen to ‘Chelu’ below.