Naughty Boy has admitted that his debut album, ‘Hotel Cabana’ is more than a music album. It’s a concept, one that has more in common with a film. It even came with its own trailers. So with all this silver screen stuff, it seems that Naughty Boy is the director of this blockbuster. However, I think this album could have more depth than most Hollywood movies. He has defiantly surprised people with his popular, almost classy chart production. With a star studded cast to feature on his project, and has worked with a very creative production team.
George The Poet attempts to put a face on Hotel Cabana with his slightly mesmerising spoken words, popping up at the beginning, middle, and end of the album to given some advice. Emeli Sande and Tinie Tempah reintroduce Hotel Cabana with ‘Welcome To Cabana’. “Ladies and gentleman, welcome to our sick starter, Hotel Cabana,” is what Tinie Tempah rumbles as they look towards creating a visualisation to set the scene for the album, it is brief but catchy. Up next is the radio-friendly hit single ‘Wonder’ with Naughty Boy collaborating with Emeli Sande once again. They seem like a powerful duo when it comes to producing and shipping out chart classics, so this will most probably be the first of many. Next is one of the most interesting and unexpected features in Wiz Khalifa alongside soulful and spirited singer, Ella Eyre, on ‘Think About It’. Khalifa gives a good rendition of his wealthy lifestyle but newcomer Ella Eyre brings some real humility between his boasting verses, responding almost angrily. The track ‘Hollywood’ is a soulful rendition by Gabrielle who tells a story of a fallen star reflecting on fallen success. The dramatic rumbles and harsh strings set the scene for Gabrielle. The track was originally intended for Dame Shirley Bassey but Naughty Boy eventually chooses Gabrielle describing her voice as ‘unique and incredible’, he probably made the right choice.
What stands out for me with this album is its lack of cohesion between tracks. None can deny that a lot of the songs featuring are good enough to stand alone without help from any others. But if this project is to work as a concept, it must have more connection between tracks and lose a bit of that ‘compilation album’ feel. Anyway, next up is another hit single ‘La La La’ with Sam Smith. Smith seems to be able to help most people to create a hot track these days, as he has done with Disclosure. It also once again demonstrates the variety of this album with its old school garage sounds. ‘One Way’ with UK rapper Mic Righteous and soulful singer Maiday produce for me one of the highlights of the album. Its a great trade off between the pair and we are hearing a very radio friendly Mic Righteous, something which is becoming more and more common these days. Naughty boy offers some electro beats with piano to their “version of heaven, Hotel Cabana.” ‘Pluto’ features another popular chart rapper, Wretch 32 with Emeli Sande featuring again. Even though either of these artists do anything wrong in particular, this track is fairly forgettable, especially as a lot of the tracks have to stand alone. ‘So Strong’ with Chasing Grace is a fairly nice, mellow track. It includes some very moving piano alongside bass beats to create a good foundation for Chasing Grace’s gruff set of vocals.
Once again Emeli Sande lends herself to another track on this album, ‘Lifted’. It works as a safe track with the big brassy beats to compliment her big trademark bellows, it has a modern gospel track and what is sure to be a chart hit. The final track and final feature of the album is the superstar Ed Sheeran on ‘Top Floor’ and is quite a fitting way to finish the album. It is a brief appearance from the ginger haired singer, but allows the album to have proper ballad moment. Naughty Boy has clearly set out to create a unique and extremely interesting concept in Hotel Cabana. It can be closely related to film because of the star studded cast and the way Naughty Boy creates almost visual scenes through his music, which is influenced by such a wide variety of beats. I do believe that a lot of these tracks work well alone as hit singles but the connection between them is a bit lost which does slightly ruin the whole illusion of Hotel Cabana. Nevertheless, this really demonstrates perfectly what he is capable of and some of the music he is producing is sublime. He will defiantly be around and in the charts for a very long time, and what excites me most is the possibility of his future collaborations.
Reviewer: Nial Fox