Wednesday, 17 July 2024
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Every Ayra Starr Album Ranked; ‘TYIT21′, ’19 & Dangerous’ & more

At this point in time in the industry, Ayra Starr needs no introduction. Since bursting onto the scene with her soulful vocals, charming smile and effervescent stage charisma in 2021, she’s gone on to cement her place as the undisputed pop princess of her generation and overall one of the frontrunners of the new generation of Afrobeats superstars, promoting the culture on the global stage.

And in the past 3 years, she’s been quite active and has had a handful of body of works out already. In this article, we take a deep dive into her discography and rank them on the basis of their quality and quality alone.

4. 19 & Dangerous (Deluxe)

Cover for "19 & Dangerous" deluxe
Cover for “19 & Dangerous” – Deluxe Version

Whilst it might house her biggest solo hit in Rush and further consolidate on the momentum of the OG version to establish her as a force to be reckoned with in the industry, the deluxe version of her debut LP is easily the most underwhelming album experience Ayra has in her catalogue. In a bid to go more pop and abandon the R&B soundscape of the original, it chops and re-arranges the original sequencing in a quite haphazard manner that doesn’t do it justice.

Of course, it’s her most streamed body of work and even houses some gems, that’s proved to be priceless additions like Running ft. Lojay and the Bloody Samaritan remix ft. Kelly Rowland. However, as an album experience, as regards how great the songs sounded together—it doesn’t hold a torch to the rest of her discography.

3. The Year I Turned 21

Cover for "The Year I Turned 21"
Cover for “The Year I Turned 21”

It’s quite telling the sort of quality discography Ayra has, that her sophomore album is ranking this low, when it would probably be top 2 in an average pop star’s catalogue. Make no mistake, TYIT21 is a good album with terrific effort from Ayra all round and perhaps, the most dynamic and ambitious she’s ever been. Drawing sonic influences from Fuji, highlife, Reggae, Reggaeton, Hip-Hop to fuse into her usual Pop/R&B fusion territory. She’s even sampling old classics, triggering nostalgia and paying homage to legends.

But at times, it’s this album’s extreme ambition that prevents it from truly attaining stellar heights. You see, with so much experimenting and dabbling into genres, you’ll need air-tight, focused production to unify these sonic elements and make the LP cohesive. And unfortunately, that sort of laser focused detail wasn’t given to the production and at times, the sequencing of the album can make it sound like a playlist.

2. Ayra Starr – EP

Cover for "Ayra Starr" EP
Cover for “Ayra Starr” EP

When her self-titled EP arrived in January 2021, the industry knew instantly that Don Jazzy had unearthed yet another pristine talent and this time around, unlike his other groundbreaking discoveries in the past, she was a woman. A young adult with pure, angelic vocals and the sort of starry eyes that instantly had you sold on all earnest, relatable coming-of-age stories she was telling.

Whilst Away and Ija showed off some competent pop and lamba-making chops that definitely needed some honing, it was on the R&B cuts; Sare and Memories, that Ayra’s talent shone through. On DITR, she shows some more impressive range by delivering a solid showing over a trap beat.

1. 19 & Dangerous

When her debut album was announced, just months after her debut EP—it was an unprecedented feat. The norm was for breakout acts to release an EP or 2 in their introductory year, before eventually following it up with an album, down the line. Of course, there are outliers like Fireboy who also released his debut album in his breakout year but it was just one body of work. Ayra was set to release TWO in her first EIGHT months of being in the industry, and from a label like Mavins no less that is notorious for taking their sweet time in rolling out the debut albums of their artists.

And boy, did it not disappoint. 19 & Dangerous is a thematic masterpiece on the teenage experience, youthful exuberance, young love, coming-of-age shenanigans and every other meaningful teenage highlight that makes or breaks one in the most tumultuous and rebellious phase of life. It was also a sonic triumph and one of the best Afro-R&B albums this country has ever produced with cohesion and mastery of skill that was just a terrifying display of skill mastery for a 19-year old at the time.

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