Yours truly got to know French-Nigerian Mahakwe Wadike aka Nai-Jah last year thanks to 'The Great Elephant', his excellent collaboration with English producer Alpha Steppa. But Nai-Jah (reggae-patois for Nigeria) also seems to be the pseudonym for the band supporting Wadike. With 'Masquerades', a title referring to the lies and deception we're bombarded with on a daily basis, Nai-Jah created a stunner of an album. Musically speaking, the use of a bas-sousaphone (Guillaume Monier) instead of an ordinary bass guitar immediately stands out in opener 'Hot Town'. In the track list nice conscious roots tunes like 'Overcome' (including a long weeping guitar solo by Gordon Tian), the slow 'Wipe Those Tears', or the more up-tempo 'Dem A Come', but on 'Masquerades' there's also room for other influences. Mahakwe goes digging Mahakwe into his own Igbo-traditions for 'Uwa Shirike' ("the world is a complex place"), Igbo-rhythms somewhere between soukous and afrobeat, he spices up the super catchy 'Fankanda' with lyrics in Mandinka (Wadike wrote the song after he ran into a man in Gambia who kept shouting: "Fankanda, tulling ning jelleh!" years ago), and American rapper iLLspokinn adds some hip-hop vibes to 'Work Everyday'. For the closing dub version of 'Overcome', Nai-Jah finally appealed to his buddy Alpha Steppa. With this gem of an album, Nai-Jah has already assured himself of one definite fan in yours truly!