Asake cashes in his superstar token in 'Work Of Art'
Though sonics and cadences remain unchanged there’s a notable change in mindset.
When it comes to what listeners want from Asake, identity isn’t enough. They demand excitement. The type that soundtracked his unprecedented rise and which has sustained his momentum to release his 3rd project in 18 months.
And while 'Work Of Art' is every bit the explosive, chest-thumping, genre-blending Asake that listeners have come to adore, it lacks the excitement his debut album packed, and understandably so.
Asake’s reluctance to switch up his style created a rather monotonous album that appears to be a creative readjustment of his debut project even down to the production.
A superstar, his mindset bares more confidence and his thematic preoccupation is celebratory and braggadocious. He compares himself to a work of art alluding to the pop culture icon Jean-Michel Basquiat who has influenced many across different climes. This use of imagery displays an artistic side that he displayed on his debut where the cover was creatively coined by Narcos billionaire kingpin Pablo Escobar.
His fascination with renowned figures of the organised crime world sees him compare himself to the Cosa Nostra where he alludes to the Capo di tutti just as Olamide also did as swaggered through his verse on 'Amapiano' where he named dropped the notorious Lucky Luciano.
If Work of Art offered anything new, it would be a suggestion that Asake is most comfortable and eclectic when he’s leaning toward his Hip Hop influences. Basquiat which is a frontrunner for the lead single delivers similar goodies as '2:30', 'Pallazo', 'PBUY', 'Terminator', and 'Organize' which all carry strutting flows than melodies.
Asake’s decision to kick off from where he left off in 2022 saw him release 'Yoga' early in the year which served as a punctuation before going back to the status quo with '2:30'. Buoyed by momentum and the confidence of a dominance that still lingers, Asake elected to explore the same style that brought him fame and he did this by cashing in his superstar token knowing fully well that whatever he offered would be feverishly consumed.
While he makes a statement of intent that conveys hunger and drive in 'Dull' he opens up 'Work of Art' with a gospel record where he expresses gratitude to a higher power for the success and dominance he currently enjoys.
He talks about his exploits and celebrates from a superstar standpoint. On 'Awodi' he talks about his massive success in 2022 started with the eponymous EP where he shares his intention with 'Trabaye'. And he did reach the top of the industry at the end of the year scoring chart-toppers.
He talks up his ability and mocks others for trying to be like him as he celebrates on '2:30'. Like a successful hip-hop star, he talks up himself - calling himself a work of art, a great guy, boasting about being the toast of the moment and being lonely at the top. When he bothers to get slightly personal, he fixes these moments in between his celebrations like in '2:30' where he talks about the cutthroat way of the world while passing a "YOLO" message. Even his problems are that of a superstar like in 'Lonely at the Top' where he talks about the distrust that comes with fame, and in his quintessential nature, he explores individualism in 'Yoga' as he demands to be left to lead his life as he pleases.
The album packs the sonic cadences of his debut as he retains the singular pop rap style which he occasionally punctuates with gospel-styled melodies. The production also rides on familiarity with the beat sounding like creative adjustments of his very familiar hits.
Even when he tries to switch up the sound through a blend of his gospel influences and the log drums make it all too familiar like in ‘Sunshine’ and ‘Mogbe’. When he switches to Highlife flow in ‘Lonely At The Top,’ he still retains his familiar pop rap style.
The opening sequences also didn't help the album as it didn't pick up until 'Basquiat' which is track 6. This made for a slow start that's compounded by the monotony.
But we shouldn’t get it twisted. There’s still more depth and sonic complexities to Asake and it was only overshadowed by the one-dimensional nature of his flows and techniques and the singularity of the production.
The Fuji technique in 'Great Guy', the Highlife switch in 'Lonely at the Top', the final 30 seconds of ‘Mogbe,’ the refrains in ‘Sunshine,’ the trance-like delivery on ‘Basquiat,’ and the poetry of ‘Yoga’ are sufficient indications that he would still deliver impressive records if he chooses to move beyond Amapiano.
At any rate, ‘Work Of Art’ rides on momentum and offers sufficient quality for Asake to stabilise his superstar status. And even though it lacks the excitement of his debut album, the mainstream is still largely shaped by his sound, so there will be little room for checkmating.
Though sonics and cadences remain unchanged, there’s a notable change in mindset. Asake is fully aware of his superstar power and he doesn't hesitate to cash it in.
The confidence Asake exudes on this album might slightly border on cockiness to some listeners. As his peers are dropping deluxes, he drops a new album heralded by unannounced singles. He boasts about being lonely at the top and he places himself heads and shoulders above the rest. He knows there’s no checking him. Anyway we want to look at it, that’s superstar power.
Asake has cashed in superstar token for 'Work Of Art' and it would most certainly achieve the job it’s meant for — stabilise his place as a superstar through an achieved sophomore album which would invariably give him an upward momentum to aim for more.
Now, we learn the songs and wait for their live rendition at the O2.
• 0-1.9: Flop
• 2.0-3.9: Near fall
• 4.0-5.9: Average
• 6.0-7.9: Victory
• 8.0-10: Champion
Pulse Rating: /10
Album Sequencing: 1.5/2
Songwriting, Themes, and Delivery: 1.6/2
Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.5/2
Total: 7.8 - Victory
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