I don’t do album reviews, and this is not due to the fault of the albums themselves or the artists; it is primarily my fault. My inconsistency with following my content calendar plays a big part, and sometimes the lack of the right words to use or my tiredness.
You cannot spend the whole day meandering through the hospital’s corridors, attending to Lagosians with all their chaos, and handling Sanwo-Olu’s people, and you want to get home to settle to write an album review immediately.
At this point, the only thing that can motivate you to open your old Dell laptop and write something is the money. Again, this competes with the intense urge to slough on the couch and sleep off. Then if God is on your side, IKEDC has “given” you light so you sleep well and ignore all your worries. “Tomorrow is another day”.
After the uproar of the elections, our artists rolled out their album dates, and they have stayed true. As a result, we have had a couple of great albums to listen to. Starting from Davido’s release of “Timeless”, Wande Coal’s “Legend or no Legend”, Seyi Vibez’s “Vibe Till Thy Kingdom Come” to Sean Tizzle’s “Dues” and most recently, Asake’s “Work of Art”, we have been blessed by really great works of music.
I initially wanted to do a review of Davido’s Timeless. Then, maybe it was the longing I had for his sound before that album release or the anticipation built around it; I was hyped up. The body of work was perfectly arranged and so much in sync that I still regret that I could not write a review.
However, when I heard the opening violin notes at the beginning of the first song of the album “Olorun”, I knew I was not missing this opportunity again. I will be writing my first-ever album review.
Ololade Mi Asake — When Preparedness Meets Opportunity
I am no stranger to Asake’s art. We even attended the same university, the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University. Check his bio if you think I am lying. If you see this as “Famzing”, then I don’t know what to tell you. But for real, the line “Mo fun won Lomope mo de Jelo” speaks volumes about how man’s art has endured and developed over time.
It is tough; it is hard work, especially if you are a relatively new artist. Asake tells us in “Olorun” how 2020 was such a tough year and how he was in his room, baring his soul to the almighty to bless the works of his hands. So you know this man was not looking to mess with any opportunity given to him.
I could remember watching this locs-wearing artiste perform at the amphitheatre back then, and I got goosebumps. Watching him then dazzle everyone on stage with his trademark dance steps while bopping to his now re-released hit song, “Joha”. I was convinced this was a man destined for bigger things. His confidence on stage at the time was surreal, coupled with how he took us all along as he performed.
When he “Jeloed”, as he says on “Olorun”, he just showed us that he was a man meant for the big screens. He was already a star in the making, and Baddo just polished up this “Diamond” for the world to see.
Joey Akan mentioned how hard it is to “blow” on the Nigerian music scene. It is a super expensive place, with everyone jostling for limited spaces in the limelight. They say the sky is big enough for all the birds to fly, but not the Nigerian Sky.
As it is the norm for everything to be different with us, our music industry is no different. You cannot rest on your oars if you are lucky to blow up with your first single. You must work twice as hard to retain that newfound focus on your craft.
This is because our attention span around here is short. In just a short time, everything can change, and your audience is already looking at the next big thing. But once Asake got us with “Omo Ope”, that was all he needed. The man has not looked back since.
“Tune into the king of sounds and blues.”
Working with a producer who perfectly understands your sound is essential as an artist in such a competitive space as the Nigerian music industry. It is more like your sound is that gift from above. It is your uniqueness; no one can take it away from you. But unwrapping this gift for the world to see depends on your music producer.
The producer understands that sound, and the onus is on him to interpret it to make your lyrics good enough for anyone to want to give it a second listen. For an artist in the Nigerian music space, the romance between you and your music producer has to be top-notch. It has to make others jealous.
In the past, we have seen different examples of this “Romance” between Dbanj, Don-Jazzy, D’Tunes and Sean Tizzle, Olamide and Yung John, etc. In the case of Asake, Magic Sticks is the producer with which he shares that special bond. Little wonder he was on all the album songs except track 10 he did with the young and super-talented P.Prime.
Diving Straight into the Album
On “Olorun”, which is the intro of the album, Asake takes us on a journey which can be likened to “Dull”, a similar opening of his 2022 album “Mr Money with the Vibe”. When I heard the piercing violin-like notes that hit as you play, that was the first thought that came to mind.
However, contrary to Asake’s pleading to his forebears to guide him and prevent him from falling on the new journey he has embarked upon, here he patiently tells us how God is responsible for all his successes since he broke out as a mainstream artist. We should see a pattern here; Asake always starts his album with immense gratitude to the Almighty.
He tells us no one is smarter than the almighty, how we should recognise that God is behind all our wins, and how we should pay no mind to those who oppose us and always place our faith in God. It is such a deep song that takes you away from the present and makes you aware of how much Asake has grown in the last two years.
On “Awodi”, Asake is settling into the album after welcoming us. Here is his characteristic fashion, Ololade Mi Asake brags and tells us not to compare him to anybody. He sings of his uniqueness and wonders why some folks try to punch above their weight.
“My ship is never sinking, mokataku, mo Jiggy, they wanna know what I am thinking”, he sings on. One thing you notice about Asake is his effortlessly infusing profound Yoruba proverbs into his songs. This man is in tune with his roots.
On “2:30”, This one is a personal favourite, as Magic Sticks continues to work his magic on the track. Some affectionate sounds are happening in the background, and you are tempted to vibe. However, Asake is still bent on passing his message. He brags on this and assures haters that he is here to stay.
He tells his adversaries to shift aside, “Sun Seyin; A morawa sho get” he knows his set and is here to dominate. Rightly so, Maester. As the track rolls on, you hear a great mix of drums, and percussions, all of which make you want to jump on the dance floor and throw your hands. “2:30 Ti fe Lu, Oya ka turn up”, the man sings.
Sunshine!! This is another great one. Dependent on your mood, there are no bad songs on the work of art album. On Sunshine, Asake motivates us with fantastic background vocals that further add to the beauty of the track.
He chastises us and prays for us not to lose hope. Suppose we want to be as rich as Africa’s richest man Dangote. In that case, we must be ready to go through the furnace, make the necessary sacrifices, and then be assured that there is light at the end of the tunnel. “Sun gon shine on everything you do”. Then in his characteristic fashion, and as a typical Lagos boy, the man brags to his love not to waste time. “Mo ni iru e nle” he sings on.
He continues on this trajectory of love on “Mogbe”, where his newfound love interest is being assured that he is all for her. I don’t know about you, but seeing Asake sing about love was amusing. Beneath all that, braggadocio is still a man that wants love. “Orekelewa Mi, you are my wonderful woman” “You are my only woman, my perfect human; you make my world feel so right even sometimes when I am Wrong” You can Awwwn a little here.
On Basquiat, another favorite on the album, Asake, is in his element and tells everyone that he is comfortable in his lane and has many good things to show. He asks everyone what Oluwa cannot do. He is a walking poet, a work of art, Basquiat.
For reference, Jean-Michael Basquiat was an American artist who changed the face of neo-expressionism. Man did not live for long but made sure to leave lasting impacts. He was an electrifying one that made striking art paintings.
One of his famous paintings was auctioned for over $80 million in the 80s, and another for over $100 million recently. Basquiat, the artist, continues to inspire creatives to this day. Again, all you need to do is surf the internet to know who Basquiat was and how he particularly expressed himself in his fashion choices. Take a look at the actual Basquiat, and then take a look at Asake’s album cover.
On the cover, his hair is styled in the same way, he has a painting behind him with his stage name inscribed on it, and he is holding a paintbrush. Telling us indirectly that he is a work of art, one from which timeless music comes, walking poetry. With this album, Asake is not chasing shadows; he is who he says he is.
As for Amapiano, Asake taps into the south-african-themed sound, and he dazzled us on this track. I can recall getting sceptical and wondering how he would flow on an Amapiano track. But Ololade Mi Asake delivered perfectly on this track, featuring his label boss. Amapiano is a solid party jam anytime, any day.
Asake pushes forward on his brags with “What’s up my G”. White range and Maserati, he sings on and tells us how he spends money like the big boy and continuously collects his dues for anything he is involved in. He does not miss the opportunity to remind us that he has hammered now, and his woman is the finest. This is one track that will take time before you get to master its lyrics.
On “Believe”, which is one that profoundly resonates with me. I love this track, and maybe it is due to how he tells everyone to pay attention, how he is now the leading man, or how he consistently sings “I believe”. I can swear he was inspired by the catholic Nicene creed, which also contains the exact words “I believe, I believe”. Ginormous, scandalous, won fabulous, stupendous…..
On Introduction, the only track co-produced by his in-house producer Magic Sticks, and P.Prime, he tells us how he has worked so hard. He deserves everything he has gotten now, “Aye po, Omo to ba sise ma rere”. The best thing is to recognise Ololade Mi Asake for who he is now.
For a first-time listener, “Remember” will stick with you. Its opening violin notes will leave a lasting impression. Asake is fully bragging here in lines that will make any woman go weak with blushes. He invites his woman to let them go to his condo and have the time of their lives. This one will go down well with the adulterous lifestyle of Lagos(Rolls Eye).
With “Lonely At The Top”, Asake goes deeper and reminds us of how lonely it is at the top and how he is not concerned with naysayers. Man tells us how different he is from the rest “Ogogoro no be Vodka” Even you cannot argue this statement. Man says he is only concerned with making money; he does not hear what others may be saying about him.
Then he goes on with “Great guy” where he launches into Amapiano again and tells us not to bother with anything and that we should enjoy our lives. He prays to God not to put him to shame. Life is too short, so we should enjoy it and be careful.
To conclude, on the album, Asake sings “Yoga”. This one, in particular, raised a few eyebrows, as he was branching out from his usual style of an Afro-pop Fuji Fusion and then trying out an entirely different tone. But what struck the listener in this track is how Asake doubles down on the fact that he does not want to be disturbed. He is particular about living life on his terms, with no drama.
Asake’s Work of Art is a great album. It holds your attention from the first track to the last one. Although critics will say it is a similar style, the way the man delivers his message is so unique that you only notice once you get to the last track.
Asake is one for every mood. You are going through some downtimes, you are stressed from work, you need to get out of everything and take a break to relax, you need something to take you off the never ending worries of life, you need to get that pumping feel, Ololade Mi Asake is the one for you.
On the album, you get to appreciate his unique chemistry with Magic Sticks. You also do not notice as the tracks roll into one another to altogether make the album a wholesome piece of work.
There might have been objections about how he sings majorly in Yoruba and how it might be difficult for non-Yoruba speakers to enjoy his sound, but 9ice released “Gongo Aso”, and you people vibed to it.
So, it is all fine and good. Asake’s “Work of Art” is a solid 9/10 for me; and this is just me being petty. That album shows a man who has gotten so comfortable with his artistic expression and is just showing off at this point.
Image Credits: Unsplash, and “Asake’s Insta Page”.