On October 9, 2020, Nigerian veteran and Livespot boss, Darey [Art Alade] released his ninth body of work, 'Way Home.' The 7-track features significant work done by young OG, Pheelz. Scratch that, can somebody scream 'Rih!'? Thank you to whoever adhered. For those who didn't, please excuse us.
Way Home is an intersection between African music and Alternative fusion. Darey also travels to mainstream US and Europe for some electronic chops. The topics articulated on this EP are related to love, life and the struggles of life.
While Darey is a certified OG that only ignorant Gen Zers might question, he sounds so contemporary. Like a chameleon he channels his inner soul of lamba for his first body of work in five years.
While he has been 'chopping' money as an Oga Boss in this Lagos while bringing us some of our favourite international superstars, he has also kept tabs on the stylistic evolution of the space.
Darey is known for his unique style of music that finds a bridge between Alternative, Hip-Hop and contemporary Afro-pop. But here steps away from the realm of archetypal R&B into a world filled with the glitz and glamour of intoxicating Afro-pop. 'Jojo' featuring Patoranking is the zenith of this pocket.
The best song on this EP, Darey dedicates one of seven songs to mirror a vibrant nighttime, presumably at a Livespot event in the thick of Detty December. With elements of Electronic chops - most notably from the faint and warped out staccato that mirrors the dominant string on this beat, Darey finds a suitable pocket with the infectious hook, "Jojo ki n jojo..."
Yes Darey, we will like to dance too. Bring us Travis Scott in December and we will make him, 'Jojo...' - That's a promise. As for Patoranking... Well, he's Patoranking. In the words of an OG, "Patoranking ripped his verse apart, bro..." So, there's that. Moving on...
'Show Me Love' features the mercurial Teni in her element - meaningless yet melodious adlibs and mastery of Afro-pop delivery in one. From the set of Teni adlibs that launch the song, it was obvious that something special was afoot.
However, the best moment on this song was that deceptive cadence and sonic progression of the beat on 00:49. Davido might have been a better feature than Teni on this song though.
Afrobeat percussion and drum pattern
But in the middle of the Alternative music and the more Afro-pop records, Darey tries to blend the Pop elements with Afrobeat and Rock on 'Wild West' and 'Jah Guide Me.' On an Afrobeat percussion and with an attractive trumpet moment, Darey's ink hasn't dried.
But despite the amazing build-up with his the verses, 'Jah Guide Me' lacks an attractive hook - that's the song's undoing. Those trumpets are good, but the beat lacked something to truly take the song to another level. In modern Afro-pop, a hook is everything. While the musicality of 'Jah Guide Me' is high, it lacked an Afro-pop crown.
'Wild West' doesn't have any of those problems though. As Darey discusses the power of love after several episodes of heartbreak - presumably from Lagos girls, his hook is beautifully flimsy and methodically perfect. The beat found a sonic multilayered density. This was missing on 'Jah Guide Me.'
'Mo Oh' is an excess of the introspective and illuminating Yoruba expression, 'Mo omo eni ti o n se...' In English that means, 'Remember the son of whom you are...' or loosely, 'Never lose yourself...'
With its choral section, colliding guitars, flute sections and The Corrs-esque drums, Darey delivers something akin to 'Pray For Me.' While 'Pray For Me' was written about a wish, 'Mo Oh' is a warning, an admonition or a piece of advice. Darey starts, "This life na Y.O.L.O, we didn't come in pairs..."
The music is mostly tailored to the young adult, presumably a recent university graduate or a 20-something heterosexual man who recently started earning a salary that will blow his mind. Darey is a voice of reason in the face of ambition, hedonism and temptation as he speaks, "Remember the son of whom you are..." or loosely, "Never lose yourself..."
'Gone' is Folk-Rock song with striking sonic similarities to so many songs from Southern America, where the big Apple was created. It is suited to the dimly lights of a late-night performance in a bar on edge, smack in the middle of downstate Texas. Shout-out to Pheelz and Darey for those amazing backing vocals that start on, 1:06. Lord God!
Those moments single-handedly Nigerianize a song with heavy Southern America influences. As Darey discusses the interrelation of time, chance, love, expression and loss, he subtly admonishes people to be wise enough to express emotion while time permits.
The part of the brain that expresses love also feels pain - we should all listen to Darey, life is too short.
Then, with Electro-pop effects and A capella/Ambient vocal exercises, Darey is a sprung man in love on his 'Way Home.' With this, does it mean 'Way Home' as an entire body of work is about a journey of love to its destination? I guess it's open to interpretation.
Asides the already noted criticism, this writer wants to praise Darey's musical mind and execution of his pen game. He would also like to hail Pheelz. If he keeps going at this pace, he will be Nigeria's greatest producer since 1995 in two years.
The only other criticism of this album is regards it tracklist/album sequencing, which should have been;
Jah Guide Me
Show Me Love
This way, Dare could have told the story of a young adult male who goes and finds money, finds a girl he loves, but then due to a party on 'Jojo,' he fails to express love to her before she dies.
• 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
Songwriting and Delivery: 1.8/2
Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.7/2
8.1 - Champion