Asake’s sprawling new album feels like a natural synthesis of Amapiano, Fuji, and Afro elements, sounds he’s explored throughout his career and debut album.
Asake’s run has been filled with successful laps and running races where he comes out on top. His debut album, “Mr. Money With The Vibe” peaked at number 66 on the Billboard Hot 200, making it the first Afrobeats album to reach such heights. He has been on the road since, touring the States and Europe. “Work of Art” was announced over a month ago, with cover art that pays homage to Neo-expressionism American artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat. Asake is seen with Jean’s classic faux dreadlock on, which somehow suspends itself straight up in the air, standing next to a finished painting.
The album came with hit singles “2:30”, “Yoga” and “Amapiano”, which features YBNL boss, Olamide, all accompanied by satisfying videos. Asake’s spirituality is an open one, it runs through all his songs, and the intro “Olorun” is a meditative prayer that glorifies the supreme being of Yoruba, his creator. With the help of a harmonious choir, his uplifting ways of spiritualism and traditional crooning can make an atheist catch the Spirit too. His attempt to position himself as an Afro-piano artiste to be reckoned with from a mainstream podium has worked so well for him, but this project, feels more like a delving deep into Yoruba ideology, with less room for dancing like his debut. I mean you can still catch a groove with the songs but it’s more hitting when consumed by a sense of soul-searching atmosphere. “Awodi” is a perfect example, with a sample from General Prince Adekunle’s “Awodi Nfo Ferere”, he creates an affecting meditative moment of ambient modernized Fuji tune, paying homage to some of its legends, Pasuma.
Unlike his debut, which productions handled by Magicsticks, he gives others the chance to express themselves here. His chemistry with Blaisebeats seems like an ever-growing one, their link up on “2:30” allows them to work again on “Sunshine”. The log-drum loop of Amapiano here and the endless use of rising vocal harmonies allow Asake to shine brightly here. It’s the same energy on “Mogbe” just that it’s a ballad to his lover, with lines like “Make I be your Gold like Simi” referencing Adekunle and Simi’s love story. “Basquait” is the center of it all, if not the best song on the project. Inspired by the album’s theme, it holds all the components of a well-composed song that serves as the album’s centerpiece. From his elastic and taut vocals to poetic writing both in English and Yoruba, and Magic’s trademark log drums with established club genres, it sums up another classic from the duo.
“What’s up My G” sounds vibrant, thanks to an instrumental that marries the ambition of “Sungba remix”. Beautiful synths that hum around the background with skittering hi-hats add more clarity to his writing, giving us a chill record. Halfway through the album and you just have to give it up for the songs, he sounds more confident than ever but more ambitious. Songs like “I Believe” sees him reaching for the stars, with a chorus that easily fits in the mouths of listeners. He wants to be as rich and influential as Bezos and Musk, an ambition that has brought him far. He needs no introduction but humbles himself on the next song, recruiting P.Priime to join Magic for the production here. Asake expands his gaze outward to the stars and deep space here, the same vibe transitions to “Remember”, but this time, it’s a heartfelt letter to a long lost love, he’s vulnerable here, as he finds it hard to let go.
Despite his humbleness, he explores the problems that come with being “Lonely At The Top”, a song that addresses his haters, in his writing here, he is deaf to criticism and haters, doing what brought him here, the top. “Great Guy” is actually a great song, it sums up his personality as a recording artiste and a normal being. He pours out all his personality trait on lean rhythms and the jazzy melodies of Amapiano filled with fast-spruced log drums, it’s such a chill song before its outro transitions unto the most spiritual song on the album, “Yoga”.
Even though it has less appeal than mainstream songs like his debut album, it’s Asake’s strongest album to date, representing his catalog in miniature: A vast, serene, often-beautiful vista of sounds, tradition, religion, and life as an ever-growing element.
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