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Ayra Starr Sprouts an Indelible Legacy on Her Sophomore Album, “The Year I Turn 21” [Review]

“When you look into the sky at night, you see the star. Ayra Starr, the most sought-after woman.”

“The Year I Turn 21” unfurls with this Fuji chant glorifying Ayra Starr in Birds Sing of Money. The Afropop star has been on a wild run since her journey started in 2021 from Ayra Starr EP to her debut album, 19 and Dangerous and Grammy Nominated Rush

A record breaker, hit maker, picturesque performer, and ultimately, a true star on a legacy to remain etched in the sands of time as an untamable Afrobeats icon, Ayra Starr has sprouted an indelible legacy with her sophomore album, “The Year I Turn 21”. 

The Year I Turn 21 Tracklist

The Afrobeats star has a penchant for chronological ages and in “The Year I Turn 21” she continues her coming-of-age chronicles imbued with an improved outlook on life, boasting of full confidence, and sonic mastery testifying to her journey and growth into early adulthood. 

21 vividly encapsulates the journey of celebrating her 21st year. Painting the intricacies of self-reaching in the face of self-doubt that comes with being a confident and ambitious youngster, Ayra sings, “You say I’m too young, too foolish. Well, I became myself ‘spite what you said…Eight was a big year. Nineteen got a big bag. I’m counting hundreds, playing twenty-something. I’m counting on myself now”

Ayra Starr
Ayra Starr

The intro, Birds Sing of Money, produced by London and Marvey fuses the classic Fuji style in the first 10 seconds, and a violin run preceding a full-blown melodic beat, accentuating Ayra Starr’s vocals.  Asake featured Goodbye (Warm Up) poses to be the new anthem for gangster romantics as the chorus sings alongside an infectious rhythm, “Goodbye to my ex. Hello to my next.”  

Woman Commando is reminiscent of  Cartoon Network’s Powerpuff Girls, the trio superheroines on a mission to save the world.  Tweaked as a sonic fantasy with real-life characters—Ayra Starr, Anitta and Coco Jones,— Woman Commando celebrates women regardless of their idiosyncratic personalities, “Tonight e be ladies night (Yeah, yeah) I no wan know your zodiac sign. Pisces, Leo, Gemini. All of us fine. 

Ayra Starr
Ayra Starr

If you were a huge Shakira fan from the early 2000’s, Control will juggle your memory to the classic, Hips Don’t Lie, as Ayra interpolates the melody in creating this euphonious track. Control wasn’t the only track with an interpolation, the much anticipated Jazzy’s Song— a tribute to Don Jazzy, Mavin’s record label boss as well as a veteran producer and ex-cofounder of the Iconic Mo Hits record label— produced by Pprime interpolates Wande Coal’s You Bad whose melody was originally produced by Don Jazzy.  Ayra discloses in her Interview that she had always wanted to sample the song solely because it was a “Jazzy’s production. 

Orun follows suit with its 90’s highlife vibe, showcasing Ayra’s versatility and range. It proves that Ayra Starr would have still been a superstar if she had been born in that era. However, Orun is modernised with Ayra’s vocals and Louddaaa’s production. 

Pre-released upbeat pop tracks Rhythm & Blues, Commas and Bad Vibes featuring Seyi Vibez bring all the joyful groove of Ayra’s 21st year. Lagos Love Story and Last Heartbreak Song featuring Giveon portrays young love in utter innocence laced with the hormonal yearnings of a young adult pining for romance. 

Ayra Starr
Ayra Starr

As the album draws closer, you might need a box of tissues when 1942 and  The Kids Are Alright come on. Both tracks are downbeat tracks with emotionally evocative lyrics and a binding theme of family, grief and hope. 1942 features Ayra Starr’s brother, Milar on the emotional track earmarking an important moment for both acts,” This moment makes it all worth it. All the time we put into the job. My first time scratching pass the surface. Make me realise I don’t wanna lose”.

The outro, The Kids Are Alright is a tribute to Ayra Starr’s late father. Her mum starts the track with a pre-recorded message urging Ayra to live her life wholly. Her siblings send heartfelt messages to their father, updating him on their progress since his demise. The track ends with Ayra’s mum assuring her late husband that the kids are indeed alright, “Caleb, nle o, sun re o. Awon omo n se dáadáa.”

Ayra Starr
Ayra Starr

“The Year I Turn 21” is ultra palpable, truly heartwarming and thought-provoking. Ayra Starr delivers an extraordinary masterpiece for her sophomore album making it a never to be forgotten project in the history of modern Afrobeats. Ultimately, it is an incredibly honest rendition of her 21st year through rich storytelling and euphonious ascendency.

Album Rating: 8/10

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