Wednesday, 17 July 2024
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Victony Excels In His Sonic Adventure On “Stubborn” [Album Review]

There are very few sonic innovators in every generation. Victony is amongst the few in this new generation of talented, versatile popstars and his debut album—reflects that part of his artistry all-too-well and also sees him triumph for the most part.

Stubborn' cover art
‘Stubborn’ cover art

This new generation has more raw talent than their predecessors. Yes, Wizkid, Olamide and Davido might have overstayed their welcome at the top as the trio have been at the top for 13+ years now, but the fact remains that asides them—despite facing stiff competition from their counterparts throughout their reign in the last decade, there were very few people who had the raw talent they did. Meanwhile, the new generation that was heralded when the trio of Rema, Fireboy DML and Joeboy broke out in 2019 has a more insane roster of talent of varying sonic profiles and strengths.

You have the brilliant wordsmiths in Fireboy DML, BNXN and Lojay who tell compelling stories through their songwriting prowess and vocal dexterity. And then you have sonic innovators like Rema, Omah Lay and Victony who always tread the divergent path where vocals and pure sonics are concerned. They do not have the pristine nature of the most talented vocalists like some of their peers even (Ayra Starr, BNXN and Fireboy DML) but they always take a peculiar route and manipulate their vocals in a way to create unique experiences.

Interestingly, Victony, Rema and Omah Lay all have roots as Hip-Hop artists, which is quite befuddling because you’ll expect rappers-turned-singers to place paramount focus on their lyrics and narratives, more than crafting unique sonic experiences but that’s not the case here, although Omah Lay is one of the best writers of his generation. Victony on the other hand, has proved he can match the writing chops of the best in his generation in freestyles and some POV covers he made for other superstars, but he takes a minimalistic approach to writing. Whilst this writer wishes he flexes his pen more, one can’t deny that this album is a sonic triumph in every way.

Tracklist
Tracklist

Victony attests to the distinct nature of his sonic profile on album opener, Oshaprapra singing “but I be the one in a one zilly, one zillion.” The minimal drums makes his vocal performance soar and really resonate, alongside the topical narrative of fighting through his demons and coming out on top. A line like “But I’ve been through hellfire, still mo shaprapra” tugs all the right emotional chords, when you put into perspective the fatal tragedy that befell Victony years ago and how he had to power through that to become the star he is today.

History is more upbeat and in this writer’s opinion the best song on the album. It’s one of the best written songs and that’s impressive considering the fact that it’s one of the songs geared towards mainstream penetration. “Make you go size up agbada o, if you want carry shoulder” he muses, whilst bigging himself up throughout the entire song for succeeding despite his harsh background, depicted with picturesque lyrics and comical analogies. The beat is also visceral and very much alive, matching his energetic delivery on the song. There is also a subtle interpretation of 2face Idibia’s “No Shaking” in the chorus.

Ludo ft. Shallipopi doubles down on the percussion and grooves on History but dumbs down the lyricism for a more simpler narrative affiliated with having a good time with a love interest. Shallipopi is quite underwhelming on the song, but delivers some memorable lines anyways that would probably do the trick to justify his presence. Anita is more of the same narrative, but has some airy flutes and heads down Amapiano fusion territory. Everything samples Post Malone’s “Sunflower” for a very generic, minimalistic Afro-Pop record. This writer is not the biggest fan.

Risk is one of the best songs on the album, because it has Victony in his element. He’s experimenting with an Afro-pop bounce and trap chord progressions. P.priime once again reminds us why he’s the frontrunner of the new generation of producers. Tiny Apartment is a clever metaphor for the topical narrative of the song, in the sense of one’s home feeling small and suffocating as a result of constant fights and conflict with a lover. It’s one of the hard hitting, emotional-charged song on the album.

Victony
Victony

Drake’s OVO in-house producer Nineteen85 incorporates 90s R&B synth-pop elements into the soulful production of Slow Down creating the ideal backdrop of a nostalgic, heartfelt record. Teezo Touchdown’s verse is quite an acquired taste and not very impressionable, but it doesn’t take anything away from how beautiful the record is overall. Stubborn the eponymously titled single, ft. Asake has both artists trading lines about their resilient and stubborn spirit they imbibed on their way to the top.

Kolo (Kolomental II) has EDM fusion and impresses with its production, but Victony’s vocal performance leaves a bit to be desired, as the sentiment of the song definitely needed more energy and kolo. Ba$tard, Don’t Be Silly is one of the more culturally leaning records on the song, with highlife-esque rhythmic guitar riffs and percussion that’s very much alive. On it, Victony warns his detractors and tells them to back off and not test his patience.

Pier 46 is a mellow, heartfelt bop with drums bubbling under the surface that threaten to burst at strategic points, like rippling undercurrents of water. And this song would most likely pull you under currents of emotions, with its candid love confessions and heart-wrenching yearning. With lyrics like “If you no get roof for your head, Girl you know you got a place in my heart” you just can’t go wrong in striking emotional chords.

Sunday School might have an upbeat, groovy tempo but make no mistake it’s in no way a happy song. It’s saddled with the overbearing weight of dealing with a lover growing distant and the helplessness of the realization when it dawned on Victony, that there’s absolutely nothing he can do about it. Street Affair ends the album on the introspective, sombre high note it started out with. Whilst the opener was geared more in the direction of a victory lap of his success, he is more cynical here and wails about past stints of betrayal and disappointment from close friends. An ugly price stars have to pay.

So far, so good, it wouldn’t be a reach calling Stubborn the best album that’s been released this year on the basis of quality alone. It’s a really good album, that exhibits Victony in his element—experimenting with his vocals, going on sonic adventures and dabbling with unconventional fusion of genres and some flashes of brilliant writing too. It does have some fat in the form of 2/3 filler tracks though that prevents it from truly achieving phenomenal status, but it deserves the flowers it’s getting for the most part.

Final Verdict:

Sonic Cohesion & Unharried Transitions: 1.5/2
Expansive Production: 1.5/2
Songwriting: 1.4/2
Delivery: 1.6/2
Optimal Track Sequencing/Topical Progression: 1.6/2

Total: 7.6/10

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