If there are two things any casual listener can take away from Niniola’s music, it is that, one; she is an energetic singer and performer. You do not need to see her doing her magic on stage or in her music videos to come to the conclusion that she is a passionate performer. She works her body hard on stage and in her music videos. The energy is infectious as well as thrilling.
The second thing one can easily note is that Niniola is one singer who can subtly drop sexual innuendos and onomatopoeia in her songs and get away with it. Her songs are laced with seemingly sexual messages, but they are not offensive. If anything, they are endearing and humorous.
Her journey into music stardom started on 2013 after her exit from Project Fame West Africa sponsored by MTN. She teamed up with Sarz, hoping to drop a chart-breaking song. In 2014, ‘Ibadi’ was released, and award nominations and more fame than she hoped for begin to look her way.
In 2017, she released ‘Maradona’. Now, that was the hit song that placed her on global maps, and which began little talks of how she was the Queen of the Afro-House genre. Her debut album in the same year titled ‘This is Me’ gave credence to the tag. A star was born. The queen was here and her fans and followers could not get enough of worshiping this royalty.
With her 13-track sophomore album, ‘Colours and Sound’ recently released, Niniola samples various genres including Kwaito, Gqom, Amapiano, Afro-House, Afro-pop, and Moomba. There is the presence of huge drums, saxophone and guitar in the album.
The album opens with ‘Night and Day’ featuring ‘Nonso Amadi‘. There is nothing terribly striking about this song other than the beautiful lines and sexy voice from the artiste. It discusses a love and lover, and everything in between.
‘Innocent’ and ‘So Serious‘ with Sauti Sol are also good tracks, but with a Nigerian audience, it might not sell. Niniola seems to focus heavily on the instrumentals in her songs and the need to retain her Afro-House crown that she might be missing other things.
Forget all the subtle lyricism on ‘Addicted’. It is a sex song. It is a song for heavy duty sex. Is the addicted a play on word to the slang, D? That remains to be clarified by Niniola. The beat is very powerful and would do great on speakers on in a club night scene.
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‘Look Like Me’ is an Amapiano song that while good might be problematic. Consider the fact that with only five songs into the album, you already have two to three Amapiano songs. The repetition of the song’s title is a low-key turn off. There’s almost nothing thrilling about this track.
‘Boda Sodiq‘ is easily one of the best songs here. Niniola speaks on the need for consent before any sexual relationship. She also discuses the canker-worm, rape eating into the fabric of society’s existence. Powerful instrumental, production and apt lyrics.
In ‘Oh Sharp’ with Busiawa, Niniola returns to the Amapaino genre. The idea of the song is humorous ot say the least. After ending things with her partner, the panacea is to go dancing with a stranger. Sorry, did i miss something here? My dear, you just broke up, innit?
Timbaland also brought his expertise as a producer on different tracks. He was on ‘Fire’, was also heard praising her on ‘Skit’. He was also on the production of ‘Designer’ with Sarz.
Another good track on the album is ‘Fantasy‘ with Femi Kuti. The Kel P produced song is just beautiful. Too beautiful and that saxophone play. Damn.
‘Designer’ with Sarz is another powerful track. It seems like a sampling of Makossa music. Whatever it is, there’s no denying that this song will find its way to many playlist. The song is basically about the epicurean life and its paraphernalia.
‘Omo Rapala‘ is a low-key sample of Obesere’s Arapala Overthrow album. Needless to say it is this writer’s favorite song. The energy with which the song pops gives it an interesting feel.
In case you missed it, ‘Bana’ is about sex. Gosh, Niniola knows how to drop sex in very subtle ways. Eveything about this song reeks of sex. It is just Niniola doing Niniola things.
‘Colours and Sounds‘ delivered as it was expected. The production is to be envied, the songwriting is lovely as is the sequence and sonic cohesion. And the cover art is worthy of applause.
However, the shift and dependence on South African sound might not be great for her music. While Niniola might be looking to incorporate the trendy Amapiano into her sound, the rush of it in her album might not sell. Placing her album chiefly on this sound seems like a wrong bet and fear of the unknown.
In a Nigerian soundscape where one is unsure of what sells, as the demand changes too easily, introducing a new sound is a risky business. Niniola seems to be overtly concerned about her foreign audience than here in Nigeria where the bulk of her fans reside. It is also pertinent to state here that the idea to release half of the album as previous singles did not work well. Ask Wande Coal about his Realms EP.
Also, it would have been a good call to milk her collaboration with Timbaland. Push all the PR, publicity and buzz she can get from it. Other than that, Niniola continues her run as Queen of Afro-House.
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