After stepping into the limelight with two largely successful projects in 2019, WurlD goes solo once again on his new extended play, titled AFROSOUL. The 33-year-old blue-haired maestro takes another unique route on this project returning with a more indigenous rhythm, but with a little twist. WurlD, with the aid of his talented cast of producers and engineers, creates a new dynamic to the sound that has earned him several plaudits, including winning the award for Best Male Vocal Performance at the 13th edition of The Headies.
We last saw WurlD take centre stage with producer extraordinaire Sarz, creating a body of work that would change the face of artist-producer collaborations in Nigeria as we know it. On I Love Girls With Trobul, WurlD twirls through a whirlwind of emotions; painting passionate scenes of love and sexual tension with his deft songwriting. His performance on Davido’s “Sweet In The Middle” earned him a spot as a fan favorite entering into 2020, cemented by his largely successful show at the Hard Rock Cafe in December 2019.
He continues on his personal journey, seeking to cement his place as a force to be reckoned with on Nigeria’s music scene. AFROSOUL, his latest attempt, further enforces his distinctive sound as he displays a mastery of his genre. His vocals sit gently on fast-paced native percussion and bubbly 808s, making this a more lively foil to his somber 2019 EP, Love Is Contagious.
The project’s opening track, “National Anthem (Growing Wings)” is packaged as a high tempo afrobeat rendition, with a cadence reminiscent of late music legend, Fela Kuti. The song transitions into a psychedelic serenade which sees WurlD ask his lover to join him in angelic ascension, “Growing wings tonight/ you can rise with me/or watch me rise into the sky”. Singles off the album “Ghost Town” and the TMXO-produced “Love Nobody” aid the progression to the project’s core, with the latter containing strong tension and innuendos characteristic of WurlD’s penmanship. “Put me under your river/swim in, swim in your river.”
On “Story”, AFROSOUL is at its bounciest. WurlD rides the 808s expertly like a tidal wave; as his lyrics consist of a promise of undying love and a catchy mumble that serves as the chorus. “Wayo (Kpe Le Wu)” shed more light on what we could expect from the project a week to its full release, and it contributes immensely to the project’s cohesive framework. “Whether you’re here or not/My love will be yours/Remember you told me/It’s easy to fall and be open”, WurlD sings on “Can’t Come Outside”, produced by Del-B. This heartfelt serenade is the perfect karaoke piece as it’s laced with pleasure and passion. “Birthday Song and Palmwine Riddim” which features Zeal VVIP brings the 25-minute rollercoaster of emotions to a befitting end on a celebratory note.
WurlD’s success over the past few months has put him in a strong position to enter a new level of prominence on Nigeria’s music scene. The project represents the point where R&B intertwines with Afrobeats; possessing alternative elements coated in mainstream allure. Its experimental production and delicate sound engineering gives the project a high level of sonic value, designed to properly capture the singer’s strengths. AFROSOUL is the latest phase of the blue-haired singer’s evolution, as WurlD takes his place as one of the most innovative and interesting characters of Nigeria’s music scene. However, his sound continues to have a polarizing effect on listeners; as his execution of these experiments with indigenous sounds may come across as far-fetched for some. Be it positive or negative, AFROSOUL will make you feel something, and such is the enigmatic nature of WurlD’s artistry.
As the desire to break down genre barriers increases, the new generation movement grows from strength to strength. With every new project release, we continue to witness a shift in homegrown sounds as artists and producers alike unearth new melodies and reshape the state of Nigerian music. A new era is unfolding right before our eyes, and WurlD’s AFROSOUL is another reason to believe that the revolution will be televised.
Listen to AFROSOUL below:
In case you missed it, you can check out $B’s RADR Africa’s New School interview here.