Wednesday, 22 May 2024

Young Jonn Is Sonically Handicapped On Jiggy Forever [Album Review]

Young Jonn makes simple, resonant music. His brand of Afro-Pop prioritizes relatable, simplistic tropes with a songwriting built on tenets of catchy hooks that aid easy retention and in turn translates to success. On Jiggy Forever, these qualities are on display once again and perhaps too much, to their own detriment.

Young Jonn "Jiggy Forever" cover art
Young Jonn “Jiggy Forever” cover art

Debut albums are very crucial body of works, in the sense that they’re supposed to establish—without a matter-of-doubt—the full scope and magnitude of the artist’s talent and sonic profile. It’s supposed to be a deep dive into the artist’s sonic identity, with the highlights being all the distinctive qualities that set them apart from the rest.

So in that sense, Young Jonn does understand the assignment because the music on this LP is unmistakably his. You don’t for one second mistake his execution and even choice of beats, for anyone else. But a great album needs more than a cohesive soundscape and a distinct offering in musicality. All these qualities wouldn’t matter without dynamism. Basically, if the artist cannot within the scope of their talent, find fresh and innovative ways to attack different songs on the album, then it’s just going to sound like one song on loop.

Jiggy Forever is handicapped by Young Jonn’s lack of ability to vary his delivery on new records and so it creates a monotonous experience, where you basically know what you’re going to get on every song. Almost the same flow, almost the same cadence and very similar sentiment as regards the writing. For example, tracks #3 and #4 are basically b-tec versions of the single and more superior, Aquafina.

Pot Of Gold does have an interesting interpolation of cinematic shaolin Kung-fu movie scores, but besides that the beat could be copy and pasted for Aquafina. Whilst Bahamas might have moodier and more pensive synths, the template of the beat and Young Jonn’s delivery is more of the same. Album opener, Tony Montana tries to do something different with its bass stripped off and mid tempo pace, but it doesn’t hit the heights of an Asake intro—that it’s clearly inspired by—because Young Jonn doesn’t have the vocal competence nor the lyrical dexterity to match up.

Young Jonn
Young Jonn

Blaisebeatz who is on an impressive streak, produced Bucket List that provides the much needed deviation from the Amapiano fusion soundscape that has not only been over flogged on this album, but in general has fallen out of good grace in the industry. Yet, this song is underwhelming. Surprisingly, it’s as a result of Young Jonn’s trademark style not shining through. The chorus is weak and not as easy to digest, the delivery of the verses are in a a non-impressionable manner that wouldn’t spur the want to sing-along, in the way most Jonn records would.

Showcase is emblematic of the same problems as Bucket List, with a delivery that’s nearly not impressionable enough and quite weak writing. The only difference is that Blaqbonez salvages it to a good extent with a brilliant guest performance that’s very much needed at this point and indeed shows the stark difference between both artist’s pen. Of course, it is unfair to compare Young Jonn’s writing with that of a rapper, but the fact that better writing elevates these songs can’t be disputed.

Jeje would have been a much enjoyable song, if it didn’t exist on the same album with Sharpally that it pales in comparison to as both songs have the same sonic structures. Nonetheless, it’s still a song with potential, especially because its hook is very catchy and is the sort that could be easily digested and utilized for content on TikTok. Stronger is the soulful, solemn deep cut on the album with the emotive themes and somber melodies. The beat is also immaculate in the sense that it moves at an R&B pace with its BPM and tempo, but the bounce has that of a pop one. It’s a good song that becomes even better with subsequent listens.

Hold On ft. Sean Paul is a very mediocre attempt at Afro-Swing and mostly borne out of the decision to simply tick off Dancehall, as one of the genres incorporated into the Afrobeats soundscape of the album. Yes, Sean Paul has an impressive showing but the chorus is perhaps the weakest on the album, as it’s just a constant repetition of “hold on to me” and Young Jonn’s verse is just as easily forgettable and bland.

When Maya Maya comes around, you can’t help but realize that Young Jonn can’t help himself and probably can’t do anything else but offer the same meal he’s been serving all through the album. The same familiarity permeates this album all through, and there is never a moment Young Jonn does something out of the box or dynamic that it leaves you jaw dropped. This time, the featured act Ya Levis gets drowned in the mediocrity too.

50 Billion ft. Zlatan is a decent offering, that manages to rise over the monotonous noise mostly due to the tight shift put in by P. Prime on the drums, as a result of him constantly switching things up with multiple infused elements in the percussion and also a strong showing from Zlatan. Don Jazzy makes an appearance on Full My Tank and his rich alto voice provides a nice contrast against Young Jonn’s, who doesn’t do too bad on the song either.

Shine Shine is a filler track that shouldn’t have made the final cut, because Jonn doesn’t say anything substantial on it and the production also uses log drums in the most conventional way possible. The album ends with singles Sharpally and Go Home, 2 decent singles that were good offerings as independent releases, but when played alongside everything else on this album—compounds its problems.

Young Jonn’s Jiggy Forever is in no way a bad album. Matter of fact, it’s inane simplicity and predictability would be comfort for certain listeners, but as an wholesome, album experience it has the tendency to sound like one song on loop, as a result of its lack of dynamism. What’s unclear is whether it’s an intentional decision or the artist lacks the ability to be dynamic. One thing is clear though, the Young Jonn we’ve come to know thus far is definitely more enjoyable in small doses on single releases.

Final Verdict:

Sonic Cohesion: 1.5/2
Unharried Transitions: 1.4/2
Expansive Production: 1/2
Songwriting & Delivery: 1/2
Optimal Track Sequencing: 1.1/2

Total: 6.0/10

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