Ade Ebenezer, the gold-tinged, dreadlocked multitalented instrumentalist, voice-trainer, producer and bespectacled Afropop crooner is already going gold from the millions of views he has amassed from YouTube, Spotify, and Soundcloud streams.
All these from only two successful singles; “Hey Lover” and “Flirty Lover”. Humble as the church song prodigy he once was, and calm as his Gandhi glasses have shown, he shyly revealed in an interview his own surprise at the quick rise and the love the industry and fans are warming up to his sound.
But what do you expect from an expert ghost-writer, and backup singer that has been riding on musical waves of successful act like Dotman’s “My Woman” and “Akube” among several hits both released and still coming?
Olakira may be new on the scene but is not new to the game. From the quality of his production and well-mastered tracks, it is obvious he has seasoned ears and have studied the industry enough to bring something new to the table. The EP, “Wakanda Jollof” is a series of love song exploring the different aspects of relationships and the vicissitudes that lovers go through. The title of the EP which doubles as a song remains an umbrella covering the whole tracks through the portrayal of love, betrayal, and steadfastness.
Ma Cheri Coco
“Ma Cheri Coco” is at first a letdown from the previous singles we have listened to. It is reminiscent of Sunny Ade’s song of the same title but Olakira didn’t do justice to it as the lyrics are sparse and the focus of the song is lost. Unlike his other sounds, “Ma Cheri Coco,” lacks the groove that brings positive vibes to his flow. Except for an admonition against lies in a relationship, the sound and lyrics are neither serious or moving.
“Summer Time” takes up the failed energy of the first track to deliver a happy song. As the name implies, it is a grooving song. Despite the few instrumentations on this track which signals both expertise and musicianship, the song is one for the dance floor. The lyrics are relatable, little wonder Latinos, Americans, and Europeans are jibing and grooving to it. But the concept of ‘Summer’ shared on the track is not same as those in Africa where the sun is always smiling, one can, therefore, argue that the song panders more to foreign audience than the local fans among others.
“Till Dawn”. It is not a party song but is a song of companionship. Still, it calls for a step or two. The track demands a promise from love by borrowing from Marvin Gaye’s ‘Sexual Healing’ to persuade the lover to hold on till dawn. Olakira presently has one of the freshest sounds and the musical acumen to not make rowdy beats and still keeps the tempo of the percussions moving. His voice sneaks through the beat in ways that reminds one of 2Baba’s “Gaaga Shuffle”.
Aya Mi (My Love)
“Aya Mi (My Love)”. It’s a song that shows off the skills of a seasoned listener with control over his notes. Though Olakira is singing Afropop, the saxophone on this track will not remind one of Fela Kuti, but will certain call out the lovely Kenny G. Most of his hooks, like the one professing love on the track is catchy with a smooth spontaneity that encourages listeners and is likely to get an encore.
“Money Groove” betrays its title. While the listener expects the crucibles of everyday hustle throughout the son, Olakira flips the scripts by making it a dance-hall song, thus erodes the seriousness of the message. Still, the message is strong as it tells of his struggles across two continents: Lagos-to-L.A. “Everything Indomie,” is likely going to become a slang to demonstrate the smoothness of either an event or a situation. The pointers to determination through trials and tribulations and the all saving grace of God, does not stop the song from bubbling.
“Wakanda Jollof”. The track is a metaphor for love and that is why Olakira is asking from his lover. But the symbolic reference to Africa in the word ‘wakanda’ is which could have been ripped from the blockbuster movie Black Panther and serves as a fictional sci-fi setting for a futuristic African town, could just be an allusion to the mother continent. It, therefore, be surmised as a spiced African Jollof dish which Olakira is serving to his fans and followers around the world. Southern Africans have confessed to bouncing to this song, but we don’t know if it will spark a jollof rice love riot between Nigerians and Ghanaians. It stands as the title of the EP but is not the most moving track, but can arguably stand as an umbrella for the whole songs – love, relationship struggle, believe in both love and God and the desire to succeed, but is done with several styles and grace that incorporates several genres just like the dish uses as a metaphor.
“Flirty Signal”. The lyrics on this track blends pidgin and standard English, and this fusion or code-mixing did not betray an Afrocentric sound from the ‘Hey, Lover,’ crooner. The instrumentation is completely that of a cultural ideologue.
‘Let your body talk to me,’ is a perfect personification that strengthens the thematic concern of the track. This is one of the tracks where lyrics and musicianship are well blended and is likely to have a dance step from the street as it is contagious. The U & I Music act’s sound as exemplified on this track grows on the listener.
The songs are ripe for the current industry though most of their endings do not fade in the manner that signals an end. The sparse lyrics work sometimes and at other times, it betrays the thematic concerns that are supposed to be projected on the track. The production is top-notch, but will need to switch to other styles for variety and to deviate from monotony. The tracklisting is somehow flawed because a track like “Till Dawn,” should come at the end of a love story is to be webbed. The first track is okay where it should be, then “Flirty Signals” will lead to a confession of love; “Aya, Mi” or “Hey, Lover,” with whom to spend the “Summer Time” and go back for more “Money Groove” with which to cook her “Wakanda Jollof” – “Till Dawn”. I believe the album will have a better formation.
On the whole, just like Olakira shows on one of hit singles; “Hey, Lover,” his minimalist style may sound simple but is not simplistic. Like in the aforementioned song where a lover confesses his love despite entertaining the challenges within, the EP, shows the multifaceted aspects of both love relationships and Olakira’s relationship with the instruments distilled in the crafting of the songs. The Afrobeat feel bubbles with tenets of Pop and acts a bridge between the genres as well as bringing the radio back to his listeners. It is commendable that all the songs have no features and has put Olakira on the stage of a hardworking artist with the bragging rights of saying he did it his own way.
Songwriting and themes: 1.4/2
Melody and Satisfaction: 2/2
Flow and Synergy 2/2