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Will “The year I turn 21” be an Outstanding Addition to Ayra Starr’s Repertoire?

When Mavins record label boss Don Jazzy unveiled 18 year old Ayra Starr on the beautiful Thursday morning of January 21, 2021, the Nigerian music industry gained an exceptional addition to the growing list of global Afrobeats stars. 

Ayra Starr’s eponymous debut, a solo 6-track EP  was a distinctive introduction to her euphonious voice and impeccable artistry. She immersed elements of RnB, neo-soul and Afropop coupled with compelling lyricism, making her debut EP reminiscent of a true Gen Zer’s coming-of-age story from Away to Ija, DITR, Sare and Memories.

Ayra Starr
Ayra Starr

In Away, Ayra Starr sings of reclaiming one’s power especially after exiting a toxic situation and standing firm on that decision. Ija exudes a flirty aura between Ayra and a lover willing to fight for her love as the title reflects the message in Yoruba. DITR vividly encapsulates the wholesome idea of the project as Ayra explores the thin line between the intricacies of youthful exuberance and trailing into waywardness. Sare is a dreamy fantasy of romance and longing. It also samples the 1979 Lijadu Sisters Orere Elejigbo, stamping Ayra Starr’s knowledge of rich music. The Ep closes with Memories where Ayra urges her muse to travel the world with her and create infinite memories, which is a vivid element of a true Gen Zer’s lifestyle.

Listen to “Ayra Starr” here.

7 months after a successful introduction into the Nigerian music industry, Ayra Starr released her debut album, 19 & Dangerous, a continuation of her coming-of-age chronicles. The 11-track album combines components of Afropop, RnB, Neo soul and EDM. 

19 & Dangerous Album Art
19 & Dangerous Album Art

In Cast, Ayra Starr ushers listeners into a world of daring audacity with zero limitations and heart-piercing motivation. She sings, “Life is not problematical. We make it problematical because we’re all listening to someone else, To some fool, without listening to ourselves. We clutter up our lives with insignificant things that have no value. Open your life. Open your canters, sip from your bottle and vibe. No dey dull, my guy. Or e go pass you by.” 

Ayra Starr wearing Balmain
Ayra Starr wearing Balmain

After a declaration to live life on her terms, Ayra toots her horn as a self-acclaimed fashionista in Fashion Killer, rooting herself in the binding factor of unshakable belief in every Gen Zer’s personal style. She explores the various aspects of heartbreak from the depths of abandonment in Lonely,  betrayed trust in Snitch featuring Fousheé to unrequited love and deceit in Toxic.

In between paints a picture of emotional weariness and mental exhaustion. Ayra sings, “ It’s like I’m fallin’ in this endless pit of life. I’m gettin’ tired but I don’t wanna die.” She features Love Nwantiti crooner, Ckay in Beggie Beggie to create a seamless collaboration and melodic music, with both parties pleading to be treated right. Ayra praises the law of Karma as it vindicates and comforts her through heartbreak. 

Ayra Starr

Bloody Samaritan, the project’s star and lead single off 19 & Dangerous, is Ayra’s memo of interminability to the world, “I’m a ticking dynamite… Dem no fit kill my vibe.” The penultimate track, Bridgertn, asserts Ayra’s nonconformity and dominance as she sings, “I’m the queen, bow down. Got opal in my grills, my eyes, my cash. Broke all the stereotypes. I make my rules. I break all of your rules.” 

The album ends with Amin, a manifestation of all the great things desired.

Ayra Starr
Ayra Starr

19 & Dangerous was followed by a deluxe version including AseBloody Samaritan Remix featuring Kelly Rowland, Lonely Refix featuring Zinoleesky and Skinny Girl Anthem featuring Kayykilo.

Listen to 19 & Dangerous Deluxe here

Ayra Starr recently announced the upcoming release of her sophomore studio album, The Year I Turned 21 slated for May 31 2024 and this is why it might be Ayra’s biggest album yet.  

Ayra Starr’s commercial success was a slow burn. Her debut EP, “Ayra Starr” didn’t initially gain huge streams. By December 2021, it had over 5 million streams on all platforms and zero awards.

However, these stats do not undermine Ayra’s talent as she made her first album a scintillating body of euphonious perfection. 19 & Dangerous was nominated for Best Afrobeats Album and Album of the Year at the 2022 Headies Awards.  Bloody Samaritan, the album’s lead single, was nominated for Best Afrobeats Single of the Year and the Headies’ Viewer’s Choice Award. She won the latter alongside a couple of other nominations for Toxic in the category of Best Vocal Performance (female), and Beggie Beggie featuring Ckay for Best R&B Single and Best Collaboration. 

Progressively, Ayra Starr has had a successful hit run with several singles —Sability, Rush, Rhythm & Blues and Commas— but Rush, took the world by storm and skyrocketed Ayra’s popularity on a global scale, earning her a nomination for Best African Music Performance at the 66th Grammy Awards. The official video currently has 345 million views on YouTube, making her the youngest African female to amass over 100 million views on a single video on the platform. 

Ayra Starr is currently the Nigerian artist with the most monthly listeners on Spotify with over 30 million listeners. She also has a couple of international collaborations in the bag including David Guetta’s Big FU and Rvssian’s Santa.

In anticipation of The Year I Turn 21, Ayra teased the album’s track list, including features with Asake, Coco Jones, Giveon, Milar, and Seyi Vibes on Bad Vibes, which has already been released as a lead single. So far, the song has been warmly received and Ayra’s fans are ultimately anticipating her sophomore album.

Following Ayra’s ascendency and penchant for chronological ages, The Year I Turn 21 is expected to take listeners on a voyage of a Gen Zer’s transition into early adulthood, impeccable sonic experience, excellent storytelling, infectious rhythms, sleek anthems for the sabi girls and gays, harmonious collaboration and wide scaled commercial success. 

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