Living in an African home, we grew up listening mostly to music our parents loved, either on drives to school or on lazy Saturday mornings. On her new album, Enjoy Your Life, Lady Donli captures those feelings to great success. The album acts as a time machine of some sort, taking us through different periods of African music in a little under 40 minutes. Following the warm reception that singles like “Suffer Suffer” and “Cash” received, it gave us a clue as to what Enjoy Your Life was going to sound like, and it is significantly different from earlier releases like the Wallflower and Letters to Her. Lady Donli would like that you listen to Enjoy Your Life no expectations, and most importantly don’t use her past work as a reference.
Donli’s soulful vocals and carefully picked out samples induces a nostalgic feeling in the listener, especially for those in touch with African and Nigerian music of the mid 1990s to the late 2000s. It takes you back to when things were easier and worries were less, as well as helping your understand how she’s advanced through the years as an artist and her influences growing up as a person — an African through and through. “Zaman Lafiya” as an intro is a statement in itself: Donli is not afraid to express herself and showcase her culture in its purest form. “Corner” represents Nigerian music before the advent of Westernization as an element in our sound.“With the Kindness” features a powerful performance from Tomi Thomas as well as an interpolation from OutKast’s “So Fresh, So Clean”, while the Benjiflow-featured “Take Me Home” contains major elements from D’banj’s “Mo Gbono Feli Feli”.
One of the factors that makes for such an enjoyable album is the conscious effort that Donli and her team put into creating the atmosphere that the project brings. All the music comes from the soul, she is in perfect synergy with her producers and guest artists, and she has recycled, to good effect, the neglected sounds of Africa. For the younger millennials & those in Generation Z, it might not be one of their favorite albums to listen to as it feels devoid of many of the new school influences, and it is clearly not Donli’s intent to. The project is a call for us, just like she has done, to embrace and showcase our culture while making it look sexy.
As she rightfully said in her open letter as part of her album rollout, she is an artist reborn. Her transition from somber moods to bouncy sounds is sure to win her a considerable number of new fans. And as you listen to this album, remember to avoid “suffer suffer” and just enjoy your life.