Carving a name for herself as one of the most durable figures on the Nigerian music scene, Omawumi despite long spells in the sidelines has always managed to retain relevance in the industry. While boasting of a unique vocal skill set that arguably sets her aside as one of the best vocalists of her generation in the African continent, she takes up a project totally different from what she does regularly as well as with a new cast and crew.
Timeless stars Cobhams Asuquo, Angélique Kidjo, Salif Keita, Uhuru, orchestras in Jòzi, horns in Lagos and strings in Houston. The resulting album is a special and purposeful curation of nostalgia and versatility. Every single song is different from the other and is set in a totally different style. A visual story plays subtly yet loudly in the mind of anyone who listens and this project is as visual as visual projects are despite being a 49 minute audiobook.
Omawumi ditches local pop to make a totally different sound – one that tends towards a new genre of music; Afro Jazz maybe?
That is who I am. When I go into the studio, when I want to write, the first genre that comes into my head is mid-tempo lovers Rock. That’s how I write…I was brought up in a home where I listened to different genres of music, and the ones that stick are songs that are deep-rooted in African music , but also have influences of jazz and live music. I have always knew that that’s what I wanted to do. I have always written in that direction.
What 2016 Omawumi said to Pulse TV, she did in her 2017 Album.
In Dolapo, a more refined and grounded Omawumi is experienced – not heard, not seen – experienced. Listening like it is set in 16th century England with sarcasm only the British are blessed with, Omawumi displays her vocal prowess in a song scorning her lover that has fallen for and is now with a beautiful but less impressive Dolapo. This record shows that Omawumi is a jazz musician through and through.
Ololufe brings Fela Kuti back to life with an English version of his song. Sticking to the script and staying true to its original arrangement, Omawumi’s rendition brings a new understanding to the meaning and depths of the song while showing off her versatility with shameless jazz plugs to it.
Megbele is a show of vocal range and skill set to cement her place as Queen.
I No Sure is exportable African music. The type that breaks into International markets and builds a new fan base. This record is another show of versatility following the general theme of the whole project but still so different from all the other songs in it.
Play Na Play is as playful as it is deep. The duet with Grammy winning Beninese veteran singer; Angélique Kidjo tells an intentional story and there is nothing missing in the personality of the song or the message it sends.
Africa features Salif Keita and Uhuru. This joint is arguably the biggest and best of the whole project and talks a lot about the diversity and beauty of the continent. While the topic in itself has been over flogged, the delivery is incredible. It is one to make believers out of unbelievers.
Omawumi is a different breed of African musicians. All of the songs in this project will go down in history as the turning point and a revolution in a new breed of music.
Cop the whole album here.
Oluwatosin Adeshokan is a freelance journalist and writer reporting stories about West Africa. He was previously the Culture Editor for YNaija. He tweets at @TheOluwatosin