A 'Mirage' is illusory. It can signify delusions or be the cause of significant pain. In the case of Mannywellz's new EP, it is all of the above.
Mannywellz who is also a rapper follows his well-received 2017 debut, Soulfro with this Soulful EP aboard Afro-inspired percussions, Soul, Folk, Doo-wop, Dancehall and R&B.
In the place of the Trap-focused, sung-rapped cult favourites like 'Do Not Disturb' and 'Wrong Place' are more Soulful numbers that see Mannywellz flaunt the range of his falsetto.
While 'So Good,' on which Mannywellz discusses his raging, amorous appetite for an unnamed female retains some of his sung-rapped edge, the song is built on an amazing sung hook.
It also sees the many angles to the Maryland native's dexterity and willingness to be a creative chameleon within minutes. The instrumentation that ends this song is amazing.
Topically, Mirage is filled with similar records. He is a loverboy purely drunk on the flames of love from a beautiful woman. Even when the love gets 'Dangerous,' he finds it hard to let go. He questions himself as the girl "left a trail of brokenness." He then repeatedly declares, "Loving you is dangerous" on its hook, aboard guitar-based Sentimental Ballad.
26-year-old Mannywellz was born in Nigeria before his family moved to the US in 2003. His dad was a popular gospel artist who had moved to the US ahead of the rest of his family. His uncle also played the drums. In his music he leaves the hints of his African heritage, either by a shade of instrumentation, language switch or features.
On 'Peace,' he is assisted by Nigerian heartthrob, Tems. He sings about his willingness to a give a woman the "P sign" forever. However, the girl - played by Tems - is not having any of that and she proposes that they end the relationship. Let's just say it ended in tears sha... The beat merges elements of Afro-house with Deep Soul and Electro-pop.
Mannywellz also sings in Yoruba that, "Ma semi l'ese..." In English that means, "Don't beak me..." While the EP can seem too love-drunk or melancholic as Mannywellz reels from the denial pain of a shattered relationship, 'Danfo' stands out.
Mannywellz sings, "All your angles drive me crazy like a danfo driver..." as the GanGan and Omele seep through for Juju - or what we now call Palmwine Music. The song is a symbol of Mannywellz's affection for Lagos. Danfo drivers in Lagos are insane at every minute of every day. Let's just say the love Mannywellz describes on 'Danfo' is unhealthy.
On 'Floating' featuring VanJess which dropped in July 2020, the two singers play lovers who exchange glowing amorous promises. Doo-Wop merges with African Folk as Mannywellz once again incorporates his roots into the music. By 'Sweet and Tender,' Mannywellz seems to be healing.
He sings, "I caught feelings instead of flights..." on an Alternative Soul track. But the problem remains those promises to love and honor her. One then asks; what is Mannywellz doing?
The Dancehall record, 'A Million' puts all that to rest. Mannywellz lets go after he fails to see the positivity in the love. Wale, that verse is also good...
In the end one might ask, what is this mirage? The simple answer is; the love Mannywellz's character craves with that particular woman is the mirage.
The major critique of this project is its album sequencing. It fails to chronologically tell its 'love gone sour' story with perfection. 'Floating' feels like a declaration moment and should have come much earlier - probably as an opening track because it should come before 'Peace.'
'Sweet and Tender' should have also come immediately after 'Peace.' It could have imagined Mannywellz as an abandoned lover in denial. The story could have then continued as;
• 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
Content and Themes: 1.8/2
Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.7/2
7.9 - Champion