The Ghanaian rapper-singer and songwriter’s second album is an ever-flowing fountain with decorative ambrosial disco, Afro-swing, dance-pop, and soft rock serving as splashing features, with Amaarae being the sole architect of it all.
Amaarae can’t be boxed in. Ideally, people that have seen many cultures and traveled throughout their childhood can’t be boxed in. Leaning on different pillars to stabilize their craft and grow effortlessly as an artiste isn’t just an easy task, you need to be a person of culture to make it work, and that’s what she’s done since she stepped in, with the aims of being the “Quintessential African princess of pop”. Born in the Bronx, New York, the home of hip hop, she was raised in Atlanta which happens to be the home of Trap music, and in Accra, Ghana. You add all this up and you understand her direction towards her music, I mean it was evident in her debut album, with R&B influence and Afro elements that hint at the presence of Accra, Bronx, and Atlanta all in one album. Her second album continues the journey, just that it’s all her this time.
Fountain Baby runs the gamut of a sound that seems to have taken shape already, a malleable one. The intro “All My Love” sets the tone for the next song, with piano keys and a violin that transitions to “Angels in Tibet”, a record with a meekness that sharpens into steely resolve as Amaarae flows on it effortlessly with her touchy voice. Lead singles “Co-star” and “Reckless & Seeet” still sound fresher than ever hearing them on the album. There’s a heavy presence of Alte on “Princess Going Digital”, thanks to Tochi Bedford’s futuristic production. All of his signature production is present, from swollen synthesizers to super-heavy drums that create early 2000’s sound, an essential theme in Alte music, the song has it all, with a catchy hook. “Big Steppa” is the best representation of Afro-fusion here, laced with shuffling Afrobeats drum breaks, and loud trumpets. She sounds so sleek here, with lyrics that represent a boss in her own world, it’s the smoothest song on the project. “Wasted Eyes” draws inspiration from The Yakuza, with a thrilling visual directed by Lauren Dunn that matches the audio and adds more vision to it, she channels Amaarae’s inner Michelle Yeoh by making her fight for her love in a sleek nightclub outfitted with a wall-to-wall fish tank.
Halfway through the album, you just have to appreciate the production, Amaarae’s perspective is significantly heard on the album thanks to KZ Didit, Kyo Steed, and Amaarae herself. On all songs, their propensity for wispy, pop-age synthesizers is felt throughout the album, from low-boil R&B jams to Afro-pop records, all her icons are present here, with a boppy vibe on “Counterfeit”, a song with samples from Clipse’s classic hit, “Camp Wamp.” “Disguise” dazzles with spurts of sexuality and softness, her favorite song on the album, it has all the compositions of a modern club anthem. If the Britney Spears influence has not hit you yet, “Sex, Violence, Suicide” is the wake-up call. It pitches and yaws between a piano-solo vocalist crooning by Amaarae before transitioning into a traditional heavy metal tune with chugging riffs that you only need to hear once before you can air-guitar along.
She activates Poprae on “Sociopathic Dance Queen”, a euphoric glitzy song that embraces the gloss of pop while letting many of its rules soften, a semiconscious rush that invites you to get lost on the dancefloor. Kojey’s “Born” production is used on “Aquamarie Loves Ecstasy”, and she doesn’t miss, broad strokes of verse and chorus, anticipation, and pleasure are all blended here. With a sensual outdo that introduces you to “Water From Wine”, the best performance on the album, on bass breakbeats skittering across dusty piano loops and sickly sweet Afro elements, she’s as sexual than ever, asking for sex and a pitcher of white wine for breakfast in French.
The outro “Come Home To God” accomplishes what Amaarae wanted for the whole album: a glistering jukebox calibrated for 14 songs that operate in sheer freedom, it sounds like a Fergie record from the early 2000s, highlighting her braveness as an artiste.
“Fountain Baby ” says one thing about her approach towards her craft, she’s the most daring artist her motherland has seen in a while. Her chemistry with KZ is the heartbeat of the album, both reverent and fierce, and with the help of other producers, they play their cards well, bringing Amaarae’s sonic dream to reality. It’s an exceptional project, and the barrier to entry does not discriminate. You’ll have no choice but to surrender yourself to Amaarae’s charm as the new Ghanaian Pop Master.
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