Review: Peter Okoye’s debut ‘Look into my eyes’ is proof some birds should never fly solo

Between a failing economy, inter-tribal violence and Wizkid setting himself on the same ‘father of many nations’ path as 2face did some years back, Nigerians currently have a lot to deal with. To add to this ignoble list is the heart-wrenching possibility that one of Nigeria’s beloved and longest serving groups P-Square could be going their separate ways.

Brothers  Peter and Paul Okoye have had problems with their dealings in the past, but their most recent conflict has been the most aggressive. While the group has not officially declared a split, it appears they are keeping their options open. And for the  first time in nearly two  decades of being in Nigerian entertainment, we’re getting an official solo single from one-half of the P-Square brothers, Peter Okoye.

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After  heavy promotion on social media, Peter released a pop-ish contemporary R&B song titled Look Into My Eyes. As conflicted as its genre definition sounds, Peter opens the song impressively with acoustic guitar chords strummed over heavy drums. A fresh deviation from P-Square’s textbook, safe to say that Peter already had a great song before he opened his mouth to confuse everyone.

From the title, Look Into My Eyes sounds like a soul-baring song from an artiste who is currently at loggerheads with his own blood brothers. Any one reading a headline with such a title expects to be educated with a somber number about some of the drama going on behind the P-Square camp. Instead, Peter opens the song with; “They wanna know my freak mode/They feeling me every time I do an intro”.

And when he does hit the core issue(s) of his song, he simply repeats the words, Look into my eyes/Tell me what you see, a demanding statement which we kind of expected answers for throughout the 4-minute run time of the song. Peter expressly uses this space to brag about how well he can sing,- a subtle message to critics who have placed Paul as the better singer of P-Square,- how much his fans love him and how much money he has.

What many may have hoped would be an introspective song about moving forward is unfortunately, peppered with braggart lyrics and disconnected party themes. Peter only manages to highlight why P-Square’s songwriting was mostly left in the hands of Paul in the first place. Not that Paul is necessarily a great songwriter, but as the lesser of two evils, he kept the music thematically streamlined.

Vocally, we cannot give much of a verdict about Peter’s solo sound, mostly because he stuck with P-Square’s heavy back-up vocals and auto-tune template. Besides, this is the first time we have heard him carry a song in a long time, so we aren’t in a rush to conclude.

Peter has ventured into solo endorsements and even his own reality TV show, ‘Dance With Peter’. If this latest venture were done right, it could have afforded Peter an opportunity to prove his versatility doing something more interesting than the P-Square brand’s boring, derivative junk.

Instead, he plays by all the P-Square rules to come up with a song that can rhythmically pass off for a mid-tempo tune by any upcoming Nigerian artiste more than a little familiar with the P-Square playbook.

This only confirms the concerns of critics, that P-Square as a group was more of a ‘singer and dancer’ formula than a band of equally talented pop stars. Besides looking at historical precedents of group splits, solo careers have only been properly executed by artistes who sailed away from their group sound, a hint Peter seems completely oblivious of.

Peter’s current game plan of milking the P-Square fan base for what it is worth is likely to degenerate into a power tussle where only the Okoye brother that puts out the most hits will survive.

Dear Peter, we looked and only the emptiness stared us right back.

Download Look Into My Eyes here

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