Olamide has been one of the most influential acts to come out of Nigeria, with a story that saw him start from the ground up as an artist signed to ID Casaba’s Coded Tunes label to building YBNL, his independent label that has seen many artists shine throughout their time with YBNL.
This journey has seen nine albums from Olamide with countless hits and the introduction of some of Nigeria’s finest acts namely Asake and Fireboy. He adds to his catalog, a new album, a much more victorious one.
Just over the weekend, his artiste, Asake sold out the 02 Arena for his show in London, a show that saw over 20,00 people attend, a testament to YBNL’s structure and talent. On the album’s intro, Olamide links with Asake and his right-hand man producer Magicsticks, whose joyous blend of soul, and Afro-piano offers enough inspiration for Olamide to look back at a life well lived, celebrating his wins, with angelic backing vocals from Asake. The intro tells you where this album comes from as a whole, a place of hard work and its price; success. It’s almost the same vibe on “Jinja”, Asake retains his role, lacing the chorus with his ever-soaring layered vocals, a trademark that is hushed throughout the album. Three songs in and you’d be hoping for an Olamide/Asake joint album. “Problem” defines “Afro-Piano” at its best, with rhythms from both genres, Asake-layered vocals sitting comfortably alongside Log drums; with carefree lyrics from YBNL’s boss.
Olamide is a man of culture too, he pays homage to the trenches sound, a part of Nigeria’s creative scene that has produced well-drilled creatives like Portable and Poco Lee. “Gaza” leans on fast-paced production that has defined trenches music, a style that promotes heavy use of leg work. However, “Doom” takes the number one spot as one of the well-executed records on the project. Produced by Esker and Magicsticks, whose influence runs through 12 songs on the project; they unify their skills to birth what sounds like an Afro-Funk tune. Olamide revisits his rapping days, splashing nimble flows that serve as the perfect foil to a funky, uptempo production with stitches of Afro, thick bass lines that rep drill, and groovy vibes that scream buoyant summer jaunt.
The trio were having fun on the song and sometimes that’s all you need to make songs like this, a song that you can easily see influencers and dancers breaking their waist to. Despite his touch on the songs, Asake is only officially credited on the lead single “New Religion”, which was released months ago. “Trumpet” still sounds smooth thanks to Ckay’s harmonious vocals. There’s less room for features, the typical Baddo approach. BNXN gets one of the four slots. Known for his great feature run, he brings that energy on “Come Alive”, a well-polished Afrobeats song where Olamide drops bars about staying at the helm of it all.
Fireboy’s presence on “Shibebe” adds a bit of sexuality to the bedroom anthem. The duo’s compositional style is thoroughly captivating, but Rema steals the show with the feature list. “Mukulu” sees the Prince of Afrobeats add a sprinkle of his ageless Afro-pop perfection to an Alex Lustig production, steering the song’s direction while Olamide floats in when needed with his flirty verse. It’s a song you’d find yourself coming back to when you revisit the album, despite its lack of grooviness, it’s still eligible for best bedroom bully anthem. Who doesn’t love rapping Baddo? “Hardcore” reminds me of “Sitting On The Throne” Olamide. He sounds calm yet deadly, rapping his ass off, he carries that same energy unto “Supplier”. The final moments of the album has the best run, the last five songs are peak Baddo as he asserts control with his rap charms that initially made his music so interesting, all on Afro-piano songs. “Life Goes On” is an all-timer, a song that bridges his life and place within the hip-hop scene in Africa, rapping effortlessly on log drums.
“Unruly” is a fun but serious project, a reminder that Olamide can play Vito Corleone, serving as YBNL’s ringmaster, orchestrating moves, and playing Micheal Corleone at the same time, getting stuff done in the booth when he has to, the perfect all-round Godfather.
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