Saturday, 20 April 2024

Tyla Makes A Vapid Statement On Her Eponymous Debut [Album Review]

One would expect that after a recent array of Tyla’s success—through her hit single Water, which is a result of strategic marketing and, more so, another evidence of TikTok’s influence in brewing virality and ultimately the global focus on African talent—the Grammy award-winning singer would debut an indelible album that would have left us hot and breathless. But “Tyla” is extremely short of these expectations and shows that fame can’t erase inferiority. 


For artists, a single is a subtle way of introducing oneself to which certain errors are permissible, but a debut album is an exquisite show of talent, and skill and an avenue to prove oneself, especially if you’ve been around for a while. Before “Tyla”, there was Getting Late— an impressive debut single heralding what could have been an earmark of sonic mastery— released back in 2019. When Overdue dropped, the downward progression from Getting Late wasn’t immediately audible, thanks to the high tempo Amapiano beat, but following the release of Been Thinking, a sense of blandness started to creep into Tyla’s work. Thanks to Ayra Starr’s inventive verse for enlivening Girl Next Door and bringing a bit of heart into the track. 

"Girl Next Door" cover art
“Girl Next Door” cover art

Water transformed Tyla’s music career, not particularly because it was a spectacular record—except for its catchy chorus, a melodious dance-inducing hook—but for its remarkable performance cutting across Tyla’s picturesque choreography characterised by the Bacardi dance, which went on to make waves globally, thus propelling her career on a global scale and earning her the Grammys for Best African Music Performance.

On the brighter side, the award was well deserved considering the buzz surrounding Water and Tyla’s relentless performance in staying relevant.

Years after her debut single, Tyla has released her debut album, “Tyla”. It starts with Intro, a baseless introduction to the album. For all intent and purposes, intros can be frothy, but considering it’s her debut, a little spice would have kept the floor slippery for subsequent tracks. A good example of a light but catchy intro is Audience off Gyakie’s My Diary EP. One could easily tell Gyakie played around with the intro characterised by its floaty and impervious quality.

Safer lacks the ropes of continuity. Intro lacked substance, and Safer being the first actual song could have remedied the slip-up. But not to worry; Water did just that, and the arrangement inserting Truth or Dare right after is commendable. Water is the obvious star of the show, as is Truth or Dare, as they are both characterised by their snappy and tuneful choruses.  They were earlier released as lead singles off the album.

No.1 featuring Grammy award-winning Tems had the greatest potential to be a hit, which, of course, could still happen with consistent promotion, but it doesn’t shield the song from its ordinariness. That aside, the lyricism is noteworthy and conveys a profound message on self-prioritisation, which could become a bank of social media captions for the self-love girlies. Breathe Me is sensually appealing for its lyrics and chorus. 

Butterflies is arguably the best song off “Tyla.”. It strikes a chord on first listen. Although the song focuses on a love story with her muse, the lyrics “count blessings by the dozen. I’m God’s child. All it took was dedication to make me fly” comes off as a declaration of her journey so far, which has been an eventful one, starting languidly and suddenly spiralling like a whirlwind. 

Listen to “Tyla” here.

On and On poses great potential, if only it were a mid-tempo or upbeat record.  It lacks the ginger that’ll make you want to forget your worries and party hard.

Jump is a harmonious synergy from Tyla, Gunna, and Skillibeng that fuses pop and dancehall, nudging the most reckless and sexiest dance moves. 

There isn’t anything spectacular about art. It gives off the same monotonous vibe evident across all the tracks, but Becky G’s delivery on On My Body breaks through the lack of variety. 

Priorities and To Last gradually draw the album to a close and would have been a satisfactory end, but Water Remix? Perhaps Tyla is still hung up on this track because no other track has the potential to top what Water has done organically. 


Conclusively, the presence of a sonic itch and the absence of a sonic climax renders “Tyla” a miss. The album exudes a lacklustre monotony. Still, it is not entirely mediocre for the fact that each track boasts of rich lyricism and compelling wordplay. 

Listen to “Tyla” here.

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