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Laughter, Tears and Goosebumps: A Lyrical Guide to Fireboy DML’s Debut Album

(Words by Boma Praisegeorge)

At 11:24pm last night, one of the hottest artists on the Nigerian music scene announced on Twitter that he had given us a peace offering to calm the flame that had been burning in our hearts from the first day we heard him. 
Fireboy DML, who is an Afro-Pop (or “Afro Life”) singer signed to popular artist Olamide’s record label, YBNL, released his debut album titled “Laughter, Tears and Goosebumps” on Thursday, 28th November 2019. Ever since the release of his hit single, “Jealous“, the fire artist has kept both his fans and the general public with a burning desire to know what a full album from him would sound like. He made the wait harder as he kept blessing our ears and playlists with hit songs like “What If I Say” and “King“, both of which are on the new album. The wait finally came to an end and all I can say is: even if he had made us wait a while longer, the album would have been worth the wait. Before we go ahead, it’s necessary for me to inform you that this is mostly a “lyrical” guide. It’s not necessarily an analysis of the lyrics, but a guide through it. It’s also not a head on analysis of the music on the album but a few comments about his sound will be dropped along the way. It is mainly a map of the album that’s created through his lyrics. The aim here is to follow his words and paint a picture for the listeners even before they hear the album. 
With that said, let’s dive right in!

To begin with, the title of album is kind of befitting as you will come to realize at the end of this guide AND after you’ve listened to the album. At first glance, based on the title, one would think the album was about his journey as an artist and what he has had to go through to get to where he is today. However, we get an album that, lyrically, mostly sounds like a love song from a guy to a girl (as Fireboy sings to a girl in most of the songs on the album).

However, there’s another way to look at the title. Listeners could see the title “Laughter, Tears and Goosebumps” as a description of what they’ll experience as they listen to the album. Once you’ve taken in each track and once you’ve followed Fireboy through his journey on the album, you’ll experience your own share of L,T and G. ( refer to the album title).

Simply put, the album comes together beautifully like a well prepared wrap of amala. (Sorry, not sorry, to the amala haters out there). There are a few bumps at the beginning but they smoothen out as the album goes on and you realize that the bumps were necessary to make the finished product, which after the final track, you’ll want to consume over and over again.

#1 : Need You 
The first track on the album shows Fireboy at his most vulnerable point in the entire album. In “Need You”, we hear a young boy in love pouring his heart out for the girl who is tugging at his heart strings. You can see that this is the beginning of his journey as he tells the girl “Me I no get Benz o, I no get Bentley baby. All I got is love for you”. How sweet! As you hear the soft music and as the strings of the guitar give melody to his words, you can picture him sitting at the beach or at the front porch of the girl’s house singing like a fool in love. Even the lyrics show that. “You know I miss you like an idiot misses the point“. Poor Fire! As you probably guessed, it was destined to end in tears as a few seconds into the song the girl says “Let’s be friends o”. 
Well, our boy Fire took the tears and turned them to fire music!

#2 : Vibration
In the second track, Fireboy leaves the “boy in love” impression given in the previous track and enters into a groovy vibration of beats, and bodies obviously, as he tells the girl (I’m guessing one at the club) to “Carry me dey go, carry overload, baby, shake it till e enter body o“. This is where the laughter comes in as you can almost imagine Fire at the club dancing with this new babe saying “I can feel the vibration of your body moving, you put your body to it”. LMAO! What happened to the sweet boy that was singing with his guitar at the beach a few seconds ago? 
At first, listeners might find this sound strange as they’ve probably never heard this kind of fast and upbeat sound from the artist before; but if you listen closely, you can hear the slight influence of Wande Coal coming through. Fireboy has mentioned that the “So Mi So” crooner has influenced his style of music. It is no doubt a wonderful influence as Fireboy beautifully handles the beat and shows us a different side of himself. By the end of the song, he’d have sent vibrations through your body as well.

#3 : Scatter
I won’t lie, this track had me asking myself where the Fireboy in the first track was (lyrically and musically). I couldn’t relate the words in “Need You” or the boy vibrating in the second track to the party stopper in this song. This song right here scattered all the notions I had of Fireboy. The sound was different, the lyrics were VERY different from what he’d given to us so far and at first, I was lost. However, his melodious voice set me right after a minute or so and I was able to follow him through the rest of the song (which wasn’t much as the song was only 2 minutes and 44 seconds long). Once you settle into the song, it feels nice to hear Fireboy in a different place, where he’s doing something entirely different from what we’re used to. As you follow the lyrics, you can see that he’s completely shattered the “desperate lover boy” image from the first track and he’s now a guy who is confident enough to sing lyrics that really just crack you up because they do not match up to the lyrical genius that is Fireboy. “So ready lati jo? Listen to the do ‘re mi to fa so la ti do”. In “Vibration” he was trying something new but here, he tells us with a kind of sassy confidence “No dey do me shakara…I get money yapa, emi superstar”.Lyrically, it’s not his best work but it’s nice to see him let loose a little and sing more carefree lyrics.

#4 : Jealous
Okay listeners. Get ready because the Fireboy you’ve come to know and love, has arrived. In this track, which also happens to be his hit single, we see that Fireboy has settled into his new self, and he is giving us a completely different sound. It’s not like anything you’ve heard him sing before. It’s so refreshing. From the first second of the track, you can hear the new sound and it sends a tingle across your body. It’s like a delicious glass of margarita served to you on a platter of gold. “Just one taste and I’m wanting more” is what Fire says to his babe (and what we say after hearing his melodious voice in the beginning of the song!) as he expresses his love for her more confidently than he did in the first track. 
He is still vulnerable as he tells her, “I’m getting addicted to you”. It’s clear from the lyrics that Fire himself is aware that the kind of guy he is right now SHOULD NOT be chasing after a girl. (He did that in the first track and I’m almost certain he swore to never do it again). Therefore he cries out to the girl, “What have you done to me?! Oh baby you’ve got me chasing after you” . The beauty of this track lies in the lyrics, the music and the voice with which Fire pulls us into what he feels for the girl. It’s a sound we haven’t heard before and it’s one so amazing that once you’ve listened to the entire track, you’ll find yourself wanting more of the delicious glass of margarita.

#5 : Energy
In the fifth track on his album, Fire brings back the sweet boy we all fell in love with in Track 1. However, it’s different now. He stands firm in his confidence but he no longer denies the fact that he is a lover at heart .This “at ease” version of Fireboy brings us a track which takes us back to the front porch of the girl’s house but in this song, you don’t see a “desperate boy in love”. You see a guy who loves a girl completely but who will not make a fool of himself because of her. He tells her “I get shy when I look at you, but I no be bolo”
I can already see guys listening to the song and shouting “ENERGY!!!”

#6 : Like I Do
At this point, I think the “loverboy” we saw in Track 1 is back! We hear the honesty in Fire’s voice as he eagerly assures his girl of his love for her. “If I leave you, na you I go run back to…E sure for you baby, I’m going nowhere”. How romantic! 
However, we still see his confidence come through as he tells her “No one can take my place”. Wow! A romantic who is sure of himself. Fireboy has really come a long way and it’s amazing to see how he captures this growth with his lyrics.

# 7 : Gbas Gbos
You remember the Fireboy we heard in Track 2? Well, he’s here again but now, he’s the one in control! It’s not the girl “shaking it” for him but it’s him telling his babe what he needs. He tells her “I need some loving for the road. This is the life I chose, you are the one I know”. It almost sounds like the girl has accepted the love but she hasn’t fully understood his life yet. Well, trust the new Fireboy to show her! With the Fela infused music, he tells her “Give me your low waist” and with the groovy chorus, you can almost see Fire’s hands on her waist showing her how it’s done in his new world.

#8 : King
The self confidence is stronger than ever guys! In this track, Fire brings a sound that’s different from what we’ve heard before. It has a steady beat but the melodies in the chorus match it quite nicely. It’s a margarita but not as strong as the one we had in “Jealous“. It’s calm but it has spunk! The lyrics in this song are some of my favourite from Fire because they’re direct and lack any form of pretense. He’s not holding back his “royal status” anymore. In this song, Fireboy reminds the girl that he is a spec. (You know, just in case she had forgotten.) He asserts his “elite” status “Fine boy wey come sabi sing again. Omo forget, see gbagbé; me I be complete package”. From the lyrics, it almost seems like we’re getting a somewhat “cocky” version of Fireboy; but then we see that behind that “cocky” attitude, he is still a lover (and a fighter it seems); BUT he is a man, a KING who will not beg for any woman’s love. “Me I fit fight for your love, but I no fit beg for your love”, he tells her. 
A KING. We Stan!

#9 : Omo Ologo 
I’ll be honest, when I heard the intro of this song, I was like “The Olamide fan in Fireboy has come out to play”. The song sounds very “Baddo” and not very “DML”; even the lyrics “Egbe Egbe Egbe” would tell you that as well (don’t they remind you of a famous song by Olamide?). At a point, it almost feels like you can hear a little “Zlatan sound” coming through. Shocking I know! However, the song turns out to be a wonderful surprise to be honest. Fire even becomes more daring with his lyrics (something which I believe started in “Gbas Gbos“) as he says “Baby you can come and do house party…my father no dey”. Wow Fire! Also, this song probably has the most Yoruba that Fire has ever used in a song as 80% of the lyrics was in Yoruba.

#10 : High on Life
In this track, Fireboy joyfully talks about his life (as an artist) which he says he’s enjoying. “Making money, making love, making memories; make money and make time for my family” he says as he sums up what his life is made up of now. However, he shows us that there’s a contrast between who he is on the inside and the life around him: “When I’m with my guys it’s vibes on vibes; I’m shy sometimes, so I keep to myself and write some lines“. It’s probably what a lot of his fans expected as Fireboy has always come across as the reserved type. He ends the song of 2 and a half minutes with a line that’s repeated several times throughout the song “I need nobody, just me ko de s’elomi”. This makes you wonder : Where is the girl Fire has been in love with from the start of the album??

#11 : Feel
Guys, the girl is back! This song has a similar sound to that of “Jealous” but both songs couldn’t be more different (lyrically), as this time, Fireboy is more direct with the girl. No more cries of love, no sir. Fireboy gets down to business here. You can almost picture him standing in front of her and looking straight into her eyes as he tells her “Look into my eyes while I’m singing to you. Take this love that I’m bringing to you”. Oh the passion! Isn’t it bizarre that after all this time, this babe still wants them to just be friends?? Crazy right?! Well, trust our boy Fire to tell her that. “We can’t be friends…It’s too intense” He even loses it just a bit as he says to her, “I’m losing patience…I’m losing sense”. The carefree attitude from “Scatter” comes back a little in this song as the lyrics here don’t sound as thoughtful and as carefully crafted as those in songs like “King” or “Need You”. However, it’s nice to see this relaxed side of Fireboy once again. What’s more, despite the fact that this girl has been stringing him along, the lover in Fireboy comes out as he sings to her straight from his soul “My heart and my soul, I’m giving my all”. God when?!

#12 : What If I Say
This is one of my favourite tracks on the album. From the start of the song, Fireboy takes us to a whole new place with the music. Here, he’s direct but it’s not as passionate as it is in the previous track. He’s taken it down a notch and he’s brought back the romance full force. He lays down the possibilities before the girl but this time he’s not “demanding” as he did in Track 11. Instead, he asks. “What if i say make you come chill with me in my place? When you go fit come? Maybe this Friday” But, he’s NOT “begging”; he’s confident and cool about it because he knows how she feels about him. “You no fit message, you dey miss me too; cause I know say na my music you dey listen to“. The entire song has a relaxed vibe to it. 
From this song, we can see that Fireboy has come full circle from the boy who sat with his guitar in front of a girl’s house declaring his love for her. From the lyrics, we can see that he is now a man who can declare his love for a girl without seeming needy, and without being cocky (as he almost was in “King“), because he knows his worth and any girl in her right mind would know it as well. He shows this confidence when he says “All the guys want to steal my boo; they get the money and they get the body, but nobody else fit fill my shoes”.
How the boy has grown!

#13 : Wait and See
For several reasons, this is another favourite for me on the album. First, it is a great way to end the journey that Fireboy takes listeners on throughout the album. With this song, he takes listeners back to the beginning of his career where people doubted him. “Won sofun mi ‘Kilon se?’ “
Another reason to love the song is the fact that it’s a feel good song that makes you want to rejoice with him on how far he has come. He has shattered the image of the “gentle loverboy with the guitar” and shown us that he is in fact a versatile and seasoned artist who can handle any sound or beat that he’s given. His self-confidence is shown in the song as he declares “Nobody can be like me”.

The Conclusion (The ‘Koko’ of the matter)
From the first track to the last, Fireboy gives us lyrics that paint a clear picture in our mind of who he is at heart : A LOVER. He moved away from this image at some points in the album but the words in “What If I Say” tell us that even though there are different sides to him, love is at the core of the album and his person. Although it would have been nice to see more versatile lyrics and a broader storyline, it was nice to see Fire stick to what he’s passionate about and deliver it beautifully. Throughout the album, we also hear Fireboy go through different sounds – from sweet and gentle TO upbeat TO funky TO a calm and confident sound – all of which make us FULLY ASSURED that this boy right here can bring fire to ANY beat that’s given to him. His versatility and talent are quite refreshing. From the start to the finish, Fireboy DML takes listeners on a ride that produces smiles and in some places, LAUGHTER; a ride that makes the soft hearted shed TEARS (because of the romance oozing out of 80% of the songs); and a ride that gives anyone who listens to it endless GOOSEBUMPS as they wonder at the marvel that is Fireboy DML.

Clarence Macebong
Clarence Macebong