As Afrobeats catapults to global prominence, local communities are leveraging cultural clout and striving for enduring impact. WeTalkSound are important in this regard: in the past four years, the Dolapo Amusat-led collective has emerged as a key player in the wider music ecosystem, boasting a gifted member base that includes budding stars in music, design, content creation, and other relative fields.
Just a fortnight ago WeTalkSound held a listening party for LOFN4, the latest project in their annual album series. Packing the biggest names in the Lagos music circle, the event shone a light on, not just a superb album, but a community doing everything right, at their own pace. Let’s talk about that project for now. Weaned from the most melodious drums and strings, the songs on LOFN4 shimmer with understated brilliance, and each record grows on you with every listen. Released February 14th, it collects a melange of sounds –R&B, Folk, Afro-Pop, Rap– to explore love from a modern lens. “You know I’ve been busy, busy busy, busy,” sings Naya Akanji on the lush “Busy,” the first track of this 40-minute project. The brilliant vocal performance [as well as its theme] sets the stage for what follows, most songs placed in the intersection between romantic angst and cool-lover vibes. On “Number,” A.D.A.M teases a love interest “[how] we not getting younger,” and the bounce in his delivery is quite reminiscent of a younger Adekunle Gold before he became everyone’s baby. As far as delivery goes, “Like Am” is one of my favorites on the tape. Nú Baby and KvY’s are like workmen at a wood factory, precise and sharp, and their voices combine beautifully in adoring a lover.
Here’s the thing with music –when it hits there’s no pain. Many will relate to the problematic love story behind songs like “Trouble” but at the moment of impact, there’s no guess for the emotions bubbling underneath one’s demeanor. Likewise “Toxic,” a song detailing –you guessed it– romantic palaver over ominous keys and drums that sound like what Travis Scott would jump on if he wasn’t hitting an American millionaire. To understand the sonic texture of this album, this is what you must take away: that Love, for all its beauty, hurt, and poetry, offers LOFN4 novelty. And each record is immaculately produced, just the perfect accompaniment to the unforgettable vocals across the tape.
Then, there are artists whose music is so evolved they sound distinctly ‘them,’ and it’s a credit to the A&Rs for recognizing the prospect for solo flights. On breakaway hit “Soweto” the artist and producer Kemena dazzles around bold drums, holding this listener sway. Kemena’s debut album Bond was the toast of the underground scene last year, with many [myself included] going on to tip him for mainstream success sooner than later. “She’s not from Abuja or Canada; she’s from Soweto,” he sings triumphantly on the chorus. [We know SA babes are heavy on backsides so Kemena gets a pass for that line.]
Alternative band Ignis Brothers, are also standouts from the album. Lead singers Dwin The Stoic and Ruth Zakari excite with poetic lines over a beat that sounds like a Summer beach day with no worries. This is the record I’ve played the most since LOFN4 was released. My favorite lines are from the chorus:
Won’t you please help me?
I’ve been stuck in this moment
I’ve been rowing for days in the dark cold sea
And in your lighthouse
Shine some light on my way cos
I’ve been rowing for days in the dark
In the dark oh yeah
At some point, you’re listening and you think Woah, they even got Beyoncé on the tape; that’ll be the sensational Viveeyan, whose record “Love Me Loud” will have you as fly as a 2000s Pop diva. And closing the project is the mellow “Distraction,” featuring a nerve-touching verse from Jvsh and the soulful embrace of QUIZZzy’s vocals.
It’s remarkable what WeTalkSound are doing, joining hands [and voices] to steer the course of popular culture. Talented no doubt, the rollout for LOFN4 shows the knack for a strategy that has seen them become the go-to for artists hoping to connect with the new school. LOFN4 is packed with great songs but more remarkable is its cohesion, the way each record flows into the other. With the collective emerging as a key player in music discussions going forward, I can’t envision anything but immortality for these brilliant young innovators.
Find him at odd places arguing for the greatness of the contemporary. Published by lit mags such as Brittle Paper and The Kalahari Review, he is certain that he is destined to write The Great Ajegunle novel. Emmanuel Esomnofu is also a widely published music journalist and he is fascinated by all things Hip Hop and Reggae.