Album Review: Phyno’s No Guts No Glory, By Obina Agwu


A track by track review of Phyno’s debut album.

The No Guts No Glory album by Phyno was released last week to quite excited and expectant fans. I copped mine as soon as I could and here’s my estimation of the work, track by track.

Chibuzor ft. Stormrex (produced by Major Bangz)

Now this is what I’m talking about! Brilliance! On the Intro of his debut album, Phyno decides to tell his story. You call it common sense; I say it’s a scarce resource around here. However, this is not just any story; it’s folklore. Phyno is a legend on this track, letting you in on the humble beginnings of the “G” behind the mask, Azubuike Chibuzor Nelson, and how he made it through the ghetto life that cradled him in Abakpa, Enugu. The beat is both epic and fitting, kudos Major Bangz. Phyno’s delivery is refreshing and the chemistry between beat and vocals is just amazing. Stormrex’s voice adds an invaluable touch of authenticity to the music. This is hiphop. Nothing I say will do justice to this song. It’s a beauty.

Alobam (Major Bangz)

First of all, this beat is banging; it doesn’t get more hip-hop than that. Again, kudos Major Bangz. Alobam loosely translates to “my homies.” On this track, Phyno is trying to big up his homies from the early days in his ‘ogbe’ (hood) as well as new industry peers. Phyno wants y’all to know the hustle has finally paid off when he says Anyi enwe buro cha, kita anyi naagu na puku. (We once had nothing, now we are counting money.) Phyno’s delivery on this track is flawless, in my opinion.

O Set ft. P-square (Wizzy Pro)

The beat on this song falls far short of the very high standard of the first two songs. And the chorus… The chorus is dead. Check this out, “Now we activating money, when we balling e no dey funny, some dey envy, hating on we.” Come on P-Square! This is just another typically pointless Nigerian collabo. This song should never have happened, let alone making the final line up.

Nme nme (Major Bangz)

This song is so painfully unnecessary. This is a weak effort by a “rapper” to make a groovy highlife song, thereby buying into the hackneyed industry stereotype of trying to please the whole world on one album. We already love you as a hip-hop act. Nobody send you this one o.

Man of the Year (Phyno)

Hmmm… Away from the prior distractions, this is hiphop. Again!!! On this track Phyno makes us aware of how far he’s come when he says “…East coast n***a, now I’m banging in the west.” And he’s not even being diplomatic about his new hiphop royalty status at all as he spits: “Ogem’no street, e ma? Ogem’no hood, e ma? Owe gi, tiny’isi n’otele okuko. You can’t stop me maka n’obago.” (When I was on the streets, where were you? When I was in the hood, where were you? If it angers you, stuff your head in the chicken’s anus. You can’t stop me because “it has entered.” Obago! Resisting this jam is futile. Just say hello to the man of the year!

Chukwu Na Enye ft. Omawumi (Phyno)

This is not to discredit Omawumi, who is an amazing singer, but I think that a female singer with greater fluency in Igbo language would have easily done a better job on the chorus of this song. Even Omawumi’s verse leaves much to be desired; and I don’t know what it is with the ‘onono eh’ she keeps crying. However, this song still has one or two flashes of brilliance. Not one of my favourites though.

Aju ft. Olamide & Efa (Major Bangz)

Too bad I can’t translate everything Phyno says on this joint. Phyno was beastly on this one and I love his ferocity, especially when he says, “Ntacha gi, ngaata your attorney.” You gotta be scared of a man that threatens to eat you and your attorney. Crazy! Olamide’s delivery and energy level was not on par with the theme and mood of the song. I loved Efa’s intro; it sold me the false hope that he was coming on to f**k s**t up… Sigh.

Parcel Skit ft. Chi Gurl
This is one of the ingredients of a great hiphop album, a hilarious skit. This skit literally slew me the first time. Big shout out to Chi Gurl for this. It was funny and apt.

Parcel (Major Bangz)

Personally, I cannot help dancing whenever this song comes on. Major Bangz is just a problem. Phyno is having a great time with this beat as he brags about his new “big boy” status, insisting that he and his friends now spend in wads (parcel), and not notes. Who says a song can’t be very hiphop yet groovy? Who wouldn’t move to this song in a bar or club? Bigboy hiphop right here, mehn!

Kush music (Phyno)

Phyno is simply chanting, “You don shine your eyes?” in the chorus of this song. This is sweet music extolling the virtues of the “bad” stuff, marijuana, and its effect on people who indulge and over-indulge. Phyno doesn’t disguise his love for the “kush” as well. This is another awesome production by Phyno. This, again, is hiphop music.

Authe ft Flavour (J-Stuntz)

This collabo is too predictable. Flavour makes matters worse by flooding the song with clichéd, incoherent lyrics. They shouldn’t have bothered really. I don’t dig.

Anamachi Versace ft Runtown (Wizzy Pro)

I’m in love with the whole feel of this song. All this song is missing is 2Chainz. Runtown blows hot and cold on this joint. This is swag rap music. It reminds me subtly of Mims’ This is Why I’m Hot. Phyno definitely gave a good account of himself. Good job by Wizzy Pro on this jam. This is a good record. Not a bad effort.

Good Die Young (Major Bangz)

This is my best song on this album by a long mile. The sample on this song was lifted from Marvin Gaye’s 1970 hit record, Abraham, Martin & John, written by Dick Holler. I fell in love with this song right from the jump. The choice of sample, the editing and general production of this song is genius. The music effortlessly evokes the desired emotion. On this song, Phyno takes a trip down memory lane and tells us about life and the good people he has lost. When you listen to the original record, you’ll appreciate the genius of Major Bangz. If Bangz maintains this creative level, I see him splitting publishing money with JayZ someday. This is hip-hop just the way I love it. RIP Mc Loph.

Ojigi (J-Stuntz)

I just like this song. On this rather prosaic beat, Phyno tries to woo a girl in the ghetto using a lot of Igbo street lingo on the song. That’s about it really.

Icholia ft Iceprince & M.I (Chopstix)

Icholia has an unserious feel to it with a lazy chorus to match. However, I enjoyed Phyno’s verse on this song. Ice prince was mediocre on the track and M.I was definitely not impressive.

Shey you know (Major Bangz)

Let’s save valuable time. Next please!

GhostMode ft Olamide (Phyno)

GhostMode needs no introduction. This is a formidably epic collabo by two hungry MCs. The energy level is astronomical but appropriate still. Phyno is a great producer; simple!

Holiday Feat Runtown (Phyno)

Weak. Just weak. Next!!!

Multiply (Remix) ft. Timaya, Raw, Flavour & M.I (Phyno)

Timaya is, well, Timaya: he is blessed, people want to kill him, he has plenty money, mama and papa love him, and more balderdash. Mr. Raw is just managing. Flavour is the STAR of this song, his vocal performance and lyrics were absolutely fantastic. He came with a lot of effort. M.I means business on this track, very solid verse. Above all, the chorus of this song is heavy. Totally love it. Nice one.

Paper Chase ft. Illbliss (Phyno)

With this song, this album comes to a grand close for me. I totally love this song. The beat is a truly special one and Phyno holds his own tightly. I love Illbliss’s grand entry. He came in like a true boss, impressive contribution. This song is definitely a favourite of mine.

In summary: A major reason my anticipation for the No Guts No Glory album was piqued was that, in an industry where most acts run wildly across genres, whenever Phyno released a new single, the beat always left one in no doubt that he makes rap music.

You can say that it is Phyno’s confidence in his chosen art form that sold me. Thankfully, much of that confidence came through on this album. However, I feel that at some point, Phyno fell for the common industry misconception that an album MUST parade big names; even when they do not add any tangible creative value.

Overall, though, I believe No Guts No Glory is a solid debut rap album. Phyno put in serious work into the project and that much is evident. But in my N.G.N.G deluxe edition, I would rather have Tracks 3, 4, 6, 11, 15, 16, and 18 yanked off to be replaced by 2 more skits perhaps, and I’m good. Meanwhile, Major Bangz remains my MVP of this project.

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