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Review: Joeboy – Body & Soul

Cover Credit: Emily Nkanga

The Nigerian singer’s latest body of work takes an intimate journey through the vulnerable paths of the Body and Soul, an album he calls very personal.

The Lavida boy is known for exploring the joys and pitfalls of love stories, the thrill of risking it all for something you can’t be 100% sure of, one of love’s mysteries.

Listen to Body & Soul here.

In a redefined industry where everything flies for the sake of balance, Joeboy’s good old-fashioned love songs and heartbreak ballads are still his strong suit. Fleshing it throughout the album, opener “Normally”,  retains the emo confessionalism that runs through his career, backing his falsetto with piano, drums, and the ethereal tones of BNXN fka Buju and Odumodublvck, with the latter’s random rap verse carrying the song to the finish line, a fitting intro.

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Photo Credit: Emily Nkanga

Body & Soul” is practically the theme song of the album, its writing accentuates Joeboy’s melancholy and lyrics about unconditional love, and with a production that is stuffed with log drums and melodies, E-Kelly somehow creates a mid-tempo atmospheric production that suits crooning and grooving at the same time there’s an Ode to one of every relationship’s problems, trust issues. “Check My Phone” is self-explanatory, the sonic presence of a violin adds a wide range of tonal colors, from bright and crisp to the warm and mellow mood that limits Joeboy’s frustration, adding emotions to his vocals, he sounds tired here, tired of explaining himself, the same frustration extends to the next song.

“Lose Ya” is just a vulnerable version of Joeboy, one of his best modes, his chemistry with E-Kelly elevates here once again, it’s a smooth record, direct too, with a second verse that stands out in terms of fluidity and melodic excellence. The lead single “Sip(Alcohol)” still slaps when put on, easily his biggest hit in the last two years, “Duffel Bag” and “Contour” still hold heavy replay value as singles off the album.

Out of fifteen songs, five hold features, the interlude features Nigerian Content Creator, Oli Ekun, who gives a speech that centers around women and vanity, the guitar strings guide his words carefully, before transitioning to the next song, where Ckay picks up pieces of the sounds along the way, producing “Wetin Be Love”, a song that clears some of the elements of love and money. Ckay’s presence surges with warm guitar riffs, and sticky singalong hooks, summing up a good two-minute song. The feature list rolls on with Oxlade joining Joeboy for “Woman”, an arena-sized Amapiano-inspired song that opens up a world of sensory pleasure about women. Ludacris’ African tour makes a turn on Joeboy’s album, his verse on “Chicken, Spice & Curry” brings the early 2000’s R&B-ish aesthetic to the song, it’s one of the best songs on the project, also the shortest.

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Joeboy falls helplessly in love but that’s not love, only the weak simulacrum of it, “Slowly” sums up a certified lover boy, drowning in sexual pleasures and fantasies, it’s the bedroom anthem for this body of work, a better one. Tempoe’s craft on “Better” adds more texture to the song’s theme, dealing with an abusive lover, Joeboy’s writing skill is quite brutal here, he can’t stand violence being inflicted on a girl he is pursuing, and he is filled with so much anger that he wants to “put a bullet in his head”, freeing the girl in the process, the song’s emotions pushes it to the top three songs on the album.

Amongst a strong guest feature list, Kemena stands above it all, his idea of love ballad crooner paints a perfect picture on “The Best Of You”, he brings his holy charisma to the song, reminding you that any song he appears on automatically becomes his own, making the song all about himself thanks to his ultra-clear vocals too. Joeboy ends the album with a spiritual record, “Halle” which brings his impulse for melodic and rhythmic communion on a chill beat, summarizing a well-made sophomore album. Joeboy seems to have modest aims for the album, and he gets it right, forty minutes of Love’s pros and cons, through the lens of modernized Afrobeats.

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