During a recent interview, Niniola told Pulse Nigeria that her new R&B EP ‘6th Heaven,’ which is a total R&B project, is a way back to her actual roots. A product of Nigerian talent shows, Niniola always excelled due to her high-calibre vocals.
In those days, she sang a lot of Ballads, classic soul records and R&B. While she reigned for a long stint as the ‘Queen of Afro-House,’ Niniola never left her R&B roots.
For example, her 2017 debut album, This Is Me had ‘Oyin,’ an R&B record with great balance and intent. She did the same in the years that followed and at different instances.
Hot on the heels of her sophomore album, Colors and Sounds comes 6th Heaven. Of course, a few people have opined that the successive release could be a ripple effect of the success of ‘Colors and Sounds’ or a bid to repurpose the mistakes which birthed the album.
Nonetheless, 6th Heaven is a wringing simulation of ‘90’s R&B from Niniola’s perspective about love, her meticulous description of sex, struggles in love and her knack for testing the limits of her incredibly dense vocal range with vocal exertions. She always says, “I love to sing…” and this EP proves that… once again.
By ‘Promise,’ it’s almost unfathomable to think that Niniola was actually singing by her onesie, yet she was. At times, it felt like she was producing the most impressive bits of melodic bellowing, but mostly, we mostly listened to a woman who truly wanted to sing her heart out and she did.
While R&B will always be identifiable, regardless of its sound or formation, Niniola’s brand R&B on ‘6th Heaven’ is heavily inspired by 90’s/2000s R&B. Although acts like Chrisette Michelle, Keyshia Cole and K Michelle did these brands of R&B in the mid-late 2000s, they were the last of a dying breed - sonically.
Niniola takes herself back into that realm. While younger R&B lovers can relate to Niniola’s quest to be taken to the ‘6th Heaven’ of ecstatic love-filled sex and her assured declarations on ‘The One,’ a lot of older people will also enjoy the classic R&B sound on this project.
This is the sound that nurtured offsprings of the 70’s, 80’s and early ‘90’s. Rich on heavy chord progression, and woozy strings, Niniola’s producers impressively leaned on sounds from recognizable instruments. Sometimes, it felt like elements of Funk were slowed down for this EP and a music head might even picture himself under neon lights while listening to ‘The One,’ ‘6th Heaven’ and ‘Promise.’
She then flipped her heavy R&B leaning on ‘6th Heaven’ with elements required for Afro-pop on ‘Baby.’ Niniola experimented with how she delivered its hook; heavy on adlibs and melodic elongation of certain words with her vocal strengths.
The best was saved for last though. ‘Ryde’ is simply the best record on this EP; it is beautiful, heart-warming and mushy. Niniola simply craves limitless in its rawest form. But wait Niniola, "Help me wash my panties, I go light your cigarette..."
How is that commensurate, biko? Why are you not washing his boxers or Agbada? Somebody should call the police for Niniola.
It was also quite wild, hilarious and interesting that Niniola started, ‘6th Heaven,’ a song dripping with sexual innuendos and intense sensuality with, “L’oruko baba ati omo…”
In English that means, “In the name of the father and the son…”
Niniola heavily leaning on her vocal strength is the highlight of this EP, but there were times when Niniola oversang. If this EP is marketed properly, Niniola could have Nigeria’s next wedding season all to herself. We might also blame her for Nigeria's next wave of baby showers.
That said, a lot of people might require a particular emotional state to truly enjoy this EP. It's quite impressive Nigerian women take the risky route to make R&B. In 2020, Simi also released a total R&B EP, Restless II.
• 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: 1.4/2
Songwriting and Themes: 1.7/2
Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.6/2