A RECAP OF THE HOTTEST AUGUST ALBUM RELEASES
BY EMMANUEL CHIDERA AMOKE
The month of August got us immersed in the lyrical and creative musical arts of artists like Olamide, Burna Boy, Korede Bello, and the newest Mavin signee, Lifesize Teddy, continuing to shape the industry with their unique styles and stories. This month’s album review delves into their latest album releases, offering insights into the diversity of sounds, emotions, and experiences they bring us.
Olamide – Unruly
Olamide started off by flagging a ‘Listeners Discretion’ over his album, warning his fans in advance to expect a “bo pata” music – a euphemism for sexually explicit content. Yet, beneath this warning lies a deeper narrative. His utilization of raw street slang, “bo pata,” intertwined with the album’s title, establishes an edgy backdrop for Unruly.
Olamide has since his entrance into mainstream music evolved, culminating in the artist he is today. Unruly finds him attempting to revisit his musical roots, the source of his musical style which originates from the challenging slum life. Although it is now just a distant memory, a relic of his former self.
Unruly released August 9 marks Olamide’s first album in two years and his eleventh overall. Split into three parts, the bookends are a return to street music, while the middle is explicit and romantic, featuring the new generation Afro-Pop vocalists CKay, BNXN, Fireboy, Rema, and Asake.
Some tracks feel like a distant memory of Olamide’s past, with prologues and monosyllabic responses like “yuh” in “Street Jam,” which also begins with the line, “This is for the streets,” exposing his intention to roll back the years. “Hardcore,” another street-directed track, also suffers from this inflexibility.
On “Doom” and “Gaza”, Olamide not only flexes his range on two disparaging genres but also melds them so closely that a switch in both is not easily noticeable. In the latter as in “No Worries “, Olamide introduces a crowd backup vocals to accompany him at each turn. The track is reminiscent of Olamide’s show-stealing verse on the street-pop singer, Portable’s “Zazoo Zehh.” On “Gaza,” Olamide recalls humbler times, “Before the money we stack/ Dem tell us ‘make we pack’/ Now, they all wanna come back.”
Another peculiar feature Gaza has in common with “No worries” is in their messages referencing his background and how people doubted him, and how is now “Sitting on top of the world like e be my sofa”
Despite the initial promise of explicit content, Unruly offers substance and insight into Olamide’s life and ideals. It dives into the Nigerian street experience and life’s transient nature. Like in “supplier” themed around the usual life of the Nigerian Street where there’s no joy and everyone’s striving to survive not minding what anyone thinks and if your chase affects anyone, stateing that he is the predator and not the prey and he gives no “flying fuck”.
The same goes for “Doom”. Life is passing and “we all go fade one day”. As in “suppliers”, he is in for no problems, though he’s not scared to face one. For all the “fake nigas” and savages he avoids in order to keep a positive energy. Then in “Life goes on”, he sings about the passing nature of life. How your ride or die can suddenly be a distant fella. But that doesn’t make things any different. “Life goes on” anyways.
‘No Worries’ and ‘Celebration’ express gratitude to God, hinting at Olamide’s potential retirement, the “rap is over”, a claim his fans still find hard to accept. He states that in life we win and lose some, but that in all, success is worthwhile as we only pray to live long. The hymnal introductory tone sets the atmosphere to the theme of praise, as the crowd joins Olamide to trustingly commit his future to God who has brought him thus far.
While “Problem” comes off more as a romance song than others that are explicit, he promises his lover anything with the presumption that he may have popped molly, a drug known to induce happiness and lavish dispensation.
Burna Boy – I Told Them
Burna Boy, drawing inspiration from his old tweets, titled his album as a nod to his earlier prophetic words, which they never believed, but are now evident in reality.
I Told Them album heralded by his prerelease single “Big 7” marks the Ultimate 7th album of the African giant. “Big 7” also pays tributes to the late Indian rapper Sidhu, and Creative Design icon Virgil Abloh, whose voice note graces the track named after him.
Burna is typically better at sticking to a script. The album is a mixture of different genres. Throughout the album, Burna seamlessly weaves his inspiration into each song, from the titular opener, he reminds us, “I told them I was amazing, they told me I was crazy”; to “Normal,” where he makes mention of people doubting his potential and further down most other subsequent tracks where he delves into his struggles.
While “Tested Trusted and Approved” and “Sitting on Top of the World” deviates a little to capture the romance side of the album, “Thanks” featuring J.Cole and “Cheat on me” encapsulates lyrical flows with controversial allegations against his background, Nigeria where he thinks he’s not been appreciated enough, while still yearning for acceptance.
“No, be everybody be a believer
Anytime that I pull up, I deliver
Before you start to criticize, consider, oh, consider, oh…”
This is something he also spoke about in his conversation with Lowe: “You know they say a lot of times that a prophet is not really recognized in his home. So this one is for the people in my own home”
The voice note from the late fashion visionary Virgil Abloh, whose words of wisdom inspired
Burna’s creativity and the album’s artwork concept—a cut-and-paste magazine-style cover with Burna standing tall and promising “big vibes”—adds a somber yet powerful touch. It is titled “Virgil”.
Sampling from pop legends remains a successful strategy for Burna Boy, from “Last Last”, which he claimed in 2022 was his most commercially successful single yet topping international song charts. With I Told Them he links up with Streatham rapper Dave again on “Cheat On Me”; built around a flipped sample of London singer Kwabs’ 2015 track of the same name, and the creative cover of Brandy’s vocal on “Sittin’ onTop of the World”
The album features narration by New York hip-hop icons. Partnering with his childhood music idols RZA and GZA, the Wu-Tang Clan drops in from the dojo to sprinkle jewels of wisdom. By this, he enriched his Hip Hop exploration. Additionally, “Giza” with Seyi Vibez cements Burna Boy’s status as an Afro-fusion artist, blending Amapiano grooves seamlessly.
Korede Bello – Beauty and Bliss
Former Mavins signee, Korede Bello, returns with an 8-track EP released on August 25, 2023, showcasing his refined skills in crafting soul-stirring romance music.
The EP titled Beauty and Bliss opens with “Yoga” where he delicately explores his yearning for his lover’s next yoga session, balancing sensuality and intimacy, painting vivid images of how he intends to “stretch and Bend you over”.
The album features two Artists, Yemi Alade and Mr. Easy. His collaboration with Yemi Alade in “Frustrations” sees both artists portraying a couple’s resolve to love despite external interference, demonstrating their unwavering commitment. In “Jejely,” with Mr. Easy, they sing about seeking peace of mind, while Korede advocates contentment in life’s little wins.
In the same vein, “Life Goes On” delivers a poignant message about the fleeting nature of life, emphasizing that no matter how cherished our moments with our loved ones are, energy drains, so that ” twenty friends no fit to play for twenty years”. Korede reflects, “the things wy life go teach you, dem no dy read am for book…dem no go teach am for school “
The EP evidently stands as a testament to his artistic evolution, offering a range of emotions and stories that resonate deeply as Korede Bello himself passionately shared that “This project is a mirror of my journey as an artist and a tribute to the beauty and happiness that music infuses into our lives. Each track is a piece of my heart and soul, and I’m eagerly awaiting the moment my fans can immerse themselves in the beauty and bliss of every composition”.
Lifesize Teddy “Lifesize Teddy”
The Portharcourt born latest signee of the mavins dynasty got unveiled by the Grandlord, Don Jazzy, via his social media platforms. Introduced as “Lifesize Teddy,” she released a five-track EP on August 9, 2023. Her ability to captivate audiences with her soulful voice and enchanting lyrics is evident in every song on this jaw dropping album. This not only attest to her innate talent as a gifted writer, singer and poet like her boss introduced, it also says a lot of how much she’s been well baked by the Mavins before her grand unveiling.
The EP commences with “Air,” immersing listeners in her love world, she elegantly sings about a love interest she desires to spend more time with. Employing brilliant metaphors and wordplay, she skillfully lures her love interest for a deeper connection.
The Indian rhythmic beats of “Hypnotic ” elevate the energy, inviting listeners to hit the dancefloor and groove to an irresistible party mood. Following a romantic interlude with “Butterflies,” the singer continues with “John Wick,” where she asserts her role as the life of the party, confidently declaring that she “run shit”. The energetic rhythm and vibrant vocals gets you nodding till you’re on your feet vibing.
The emotional depth of “Butterflies” showcases her ability to thrive alongside other Afrobeats artists in the Afrosoul subgenre. Her lyrics convey the joy her lover brings and the cherished moments they share.
She finally closes the project with “Prophecy”, reflecting on her rigorous journey thus far with a final shout out to her roots in Port Harcourt where she was nurtured and groomed.
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