Patoranking’s fourth studio album WORLD BEST once again proves why the Nigerian born singer is the ultimate human synthesiser. Whether over a viscous drill beat or revivalist highlife, throbbing amapiano or breezy R&B, Jamaican dancehall or Ghanaian hiplife, his artistic identity is at once inimitable and mercurial.
WORLD BEST also features musical excursions into galala (Nigeria), soukous (Congo) and soca (Trinidad and Tobago), each with its own complex make of instruments and influences. “I just don’t like people seeing me coming” Patoranking tells Apple Music—“I just love to be seen as an African musician.” Beyond mere experimentation, Patoranking’s mastery of multiple genres are the showings of a fully formed musical mind: “I can do it without losing myself. There’s always a ghetto presence there”, explains the artist born Patrick Nnaemeka Okorie.
Rather than a single ideal, prioritised here are core values such as respect for people of different backgrounds, and a resolve to always strive for excellence—hence the title WORLD BEST, which functions as an affirmation for himself and those he hopes to inspire, regardless of their stations in life. “From the moment you listen to this album, lyric to lyric, it should build your mind, Patoranking explains. “It should make you move correctly and say, ‘You know what? Truly, I’m the world’s best.’ That’s the mindset.”
Thematically, WORLD BEST focuses on socio-political struggles against state-sanctioned violence, thanksgiving and triumph, maternal love and much besides. Having achieved his early career goal to transition from a Lagos ghetto to world stages, Patoranking intends his latest album as an updated personal manifesto of sorts, and to remain a shining beacon to his many followers. “I cannot disappoint my ghetto youths, or the people that are in my ghetto, or the people that look up to me,” adds the singer, who admits to one broad goal: “Global domination. Africa to the world. That’s where we’re headed in life.” Here, he talks through key tracks from the album.
“I’ve always loved drill. I wanted to make a different Patoranking sound, but something appealing to the ears as well. I went to a Muslim secondary school in Lagos. My school was under Anwar-ul-Islam and we used to recite Al-Fatihah [the first chapter of the Quran]. That was where I got to understand that there is no difference in being a Christian or a Muslim. We’re serving one God. These are part of the things I learned in life, which also stands for the kind of person I am too.”
I live by three principles, three philosophies of life that I created myself, which are: to be grateful for where I’m coming from; thankful for where I am; and hopeful for what is to come. This is what I live by. So that means every day of my life, I have to give thanks. Every day of my life, I have to be grateful. Every day of my life, I have to be hopeful.
“Gyal Like You” (feat. Kizz Daniel)
“I’m a big fan of Kizz Daniel and we’ve been friends for a long time. This song actually needed somebody that can play with the melodies and still take the song to a different dimension. It’s a feel-good song, and Kizz always brings that vibe.”
“Woman of The Year” (feat. Zion Foster)
“Zion is dope, he’s young, and I think he is the future. In the song, we’re celebrating women, making them feel extra, extra special. Telling your woman, ‘You’re the woman every year’ is like winning the Ballon d’Or. You know what that means to a footballer. The woman we’re talking about could be your mom, could be your daughters, it could be your friends, your girlfriend or your wife.”
“Smoke & Vibes”
“There was no way I would’ve run away from the beat because the guitar [an interpolation of “Eddie Quansa” by Peacocks Guitar Band, the theme music for The New Masquerade, a 1980s / Nigerian television sitcom] just kept on calling me from the first play. And funny how I got stuck to the guitar before the beat itself. I would say the guitar is the driver of the whole vibe itself. That’s why it keeps playing constantly from the beginning. It made everything easy for me, and took the whole song to a different level.”
“Tonight” (feat. Popcaan)
“Popcaan and I been friends for a while now. Poppy just has his own flow, has his own vibe. And being a lady song and being a party song, we still want you to still have a feel of both worlds: to have a feel of the Afro-world and the dancehall world. When they connect, it’s fire.”
“In ‘Abobi’ I thought I was speaking for one particular person, until I realised that there are so many people out there that have gone through similar situations: the fight and the reality of what life should be. It is also a subtle jab to the people up there who makes decisions about people’s lives. The only platform I have to say all these things is my music.”
“Miracle Baby” (feat. Ludacris)
“This is another way of giving hope to the hopeless, a voice to the voiceless, and making them understand that regardless of where you are today, if you take a look at my story, and if you’re continuing that same process, you will definitely make it out big. Also, who would not want to have Luda on their song? From his music, to this impact on culture and to his personality. People will tell you how intelligent he is.”
“Babylon” (feat. Victony)
“Victony is a very talented artist. I think he’s a superstar. I remember being in the studio with Vic and he told me, ‘You will not understand how you are an inspiration to me’. I don’t know if this happens to other people, but I always want to have a fan moment. I know how people behave when they see me. I know that fun. And I also know how I feel when I see people that I’m a fan of their works; I can’t hold it. So this song gives me that double feeling, the double enjoyment. It’s my song, and I’m a fan of this person.”
“Control Me” (feat. Gyakie)
“Gyakie is an embodiment of beautiful music. Her music is for the soul. Also, her dad [Ghanaian highlife musician Nana Acheampong] is a legend, so I would say it is from a genetic trait. ‘Control Me’ is me trying to make it a beautiful love song, where a girl has your mumu button. And once you know someone can press your mumu button, you know you’re definitely in love. Otilo, you are gone.”
“Kolo Kolo” (feat. Diamond Platnumz)
“Everyone knows Diamond is a superstar. He is someone that knows what to bring to the table, regardless of what the song is about, whether love or dance or party, he just knows his vibe.”
“I’ve always wanted to dedicate a song to my Mama. It goes deep. Even the words in the music cannot even explain how much that song will mean, too. Another thing is you want to look at 50 years from now and consider the possibility of the song being sampled because it’s going to be a classic.”
“Amazing Grace” (feat. Beenie Man)
“I grew up listening to Beenie Man and I never imagined in my life that I was going to be in the studio with him. I prayed for times like these. One aspect of the production that stood out for me the most was the bassline—because I wanted it to have that Soukous feel, that Makossa vibe.”
“I saw ‘Lighters Up’ from two angles. One, on the performance side where if I go crazy, I can easily calm everyone down with it. The lyrics will hit you so hard that you’d be wondering, ‘Why did I dance to his other songs in the first place?’ Two, I had to speak the truth. This is a perfect way to say, ‘Thank you for listening to the album’. Everything we told you on the album, we want you to go and live it. We want you to move with that mindset. It’s a reminder that don’t forget where you’re coming from, you’re blessed with a crown.”
SOURCE: APPLE MUSIC