If Pulse Nigeria permitted the use of vulgar expletives, this review would filled with a fair bit of them. The picture that comes to mind when you think about Odunsi (The Engine) and his solo projects is a half-full glass of milk and a disillusioned cat or the commendable, yet imperfect blood work of a man recovering from multiple myeloma.
Odunsi's career of solo projects till this point plays out like a football-themed movie starring an enigmatic protagonist.
On Time of Our Lives EP, Odunsi was like a high school student with dreams of playing Centre Forward for Real Madrid. One day, he gets thrown it at the deep end of his varsity sports team - his team was losing 3-0 with 20 minutes to go in a home game. He comes on, scores two goals to arouse excitement, only to blast a 94th minute penalty over the bar like a pot of beans with unimpressive taste, but good PR. The boys will eat, but the cheerleaders will say... neeh.
On rare, Odunsi was an aptly marketed prospect - focus of a generation - that aroused excitement with the diction-focused commentary of Fatai Amoo over the crooked speakers of the National Stadium, Surulere. But when he starts a game for the Super Eagles, he becomes an Eddie Dombraye with Kanu aesthetics only to get injured when the team has used its three substitutions.
The production was commendable, but the songwriting was crooked. Upon the release of rare, Odunsi became scapegoat for his entire alte generation. His music was bashed and so were his lifestyle choices - this was not helped by the pictures he occasionally uploaded to Twitter.
Just like Eddie Dombraye, a seemingly disillusioned Odunsi left the shores of Nigeria for London, UK. Unlike Eddie Dombraye, he looked to be carrying a 'rare injury.'
What followed for Odunsi was like convalescence or what injured sportsmen call rehab, complete with the doubt and experimentation. For Odunsi, it worked in the form of 'Tipsy' featuring Raye and 'Better Days/Wetin Dey.' Nonetheless, there was then the hovering dark cloud of 'Decided' featuring Tems which thankfully, didn't see the light of day.
Again - like an injured footballer, that was rehab for Odunsi, loaded with moments of seeming self-doubt while gathering hedonistic experience like any man in his early 20s. He lives, he cruises and them finds hope.
Like Ronaldo De Lima at the 2002 World Cup, once his injury heals, he gets back on the pitch to deliver a giant tongue out to his supposed detractors - presumably, including this writer.
At midnight on May 13, 2020, Odunsi goes on his big flex by telling the entire social media, which is his Bernabeu that, 'Everything You Heard Is True.' He had gone through rehab and come back fit. His topics on the seven-track EP feels experiences, expressions and dreams triggered by the punishing effects of criticism and detraction. For one, Odunsi is vindictive and blunt.
Now, he's also experimenting with his (shooting) techniques and delivery (rap, sung-rap and singing). Everything You Heard Is True seems a diary of Odunsi's experience since the reception of rare. On this seven-track EP, Odunsi is like a 23-year-old football prospect who just recovered from a torn hamstring, moving with something to prove and still with Real Madrid dreams.
His sound is experimental, yet fresh with occasional eclectic tendencies. His songwriting is significantly devoid of familiar, fraudulent mumbles and conveys honesty, and truth. He is boisterous and sometimes vindictive. Other times, he's like a young man coasting through hedonism as both a natural part of youth and as a coping mechanism for detraction - possibly from his art.
His features are also spot-on.
Act V: Reactionary Hedonism
A 'mosh pit' is the area just before a stage at a concert where the audience stays. On 'Luv In A Mosh,' Odunsi seems like a reactionary wide-eyed dreamer. He envisions himself a mega star living out his epicurean dreams complete with women, drugs, Hennessy and exotic cars.
As the underlying cloud string on this minimalist sound takes over a listener, something about this feels like a reactionary dream of whom Odunsi wants to be against the detraction he gets. In some parts, this song also feels like dreams induced by a psychoactive drug.
'Airplane Mode' showcases Odunsi's growing artistry. His delivery and experimentation with the limits of his voice are impressive - his tweaks the texture of his voice and sometimes sounds like a pretend-Future. As the alte-Afro-dance beat gets fused by piano chords, Odunsi is vindictive. He puts his phone on airplane mode to reduce his accessibility to people.
Maison2500 can be a star if he wants. If his EP didn't prove that enough, his performance on this EP leaves a lasting impression. 'Wicked Sexy' is a unique brand of Afro-pop with trap elements on which he and Odunsi celebrate hedonism and vanity. This new Odunsi is fun - he has energy and his artistry is growing. He also has an ability to match whatever energy his features produce.
'Body Count' is a girl-power anthem of empowerment by taking sexual power featuring Amaarae, Deto Black and Gigi Atlantis. The hook goes, "Don't worry bout' yo body count, Let your body bounce..." If Amaarae is calm, DETO is like Trina meets Megan Thee Stallion on this Texan bop.
Act VI: Tongue Out, Haters...
Then comes the eclectic trap of 'New Finesse' that will make the Jackboys proud - complete with warped out, horror strings. And those drums... Oh, those drums - sheesh. As the beat knocks a listener into dopamine oblivion, Odunsi is vindictive, confident and attractively vain as he also admits his paranoia. He also replies his critics and detractors while dishing out subs and guilt-trips.
He sung-raps, "N*gga ain't saying much... If i play my part, If i do it my way, If i get concoction, shey you go reason am? If i play my conscience, shey e go even out? Enemies don dey for my yard, and the gbedu don dey for mouth..."
'PDA!' sounds like a single that's suited to a high-octane stage performance before a crowd of drugged out Gen Z kids. The melody is delirium-inducing as is the drum arrangement. The central theme decries 'public displays of affection' as a response to a newfound fast life that involves drugs and trips to exotic western locations. Again, Odunsi doesn't forget his haters.
'Sugar Rush' is psychedelic R&B that sees Odunsi brag about his sexual prowess and its eccentric effects on a woman. I repeat, stay away from Yoruba men.
Odunsi is still not quite starring for Real Madrid, but he's become grown in confidence and cockiness like Alvaro Morata in the 2016/2017 season - bit part appearances with 20 goals - or Wesley Sneidjer in the 2008/2009 season - quality, but non-Galactico quality.
This is music that Generation Z Nigerians will inevitably gravitate towards, but it's also Odunsi's best body of work in terms of replay value, execution, accessibility and enjoyability. He expresses freely and switches language effortlessly. More importantly, he tries to bridge a gap between his primary alte audience, the Nigerian mainstream and American capitalism (Body Count).
Like Alvaro Morata, what matters is what Odunsi does after this. Will he go to Chelsea and become a spark with no fire that ends up getting shipped to Atletico Madrid and get fouled by Fede Valverde while through on goal to score against former employers, Real Madrid or will he be Wesley Sneidjer and go win a treble at Inter Milan?
Only time will tell. For now, we shall all be Gossip Girl and say XOXO.
Act VIII: Grading
• 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
8.3 - Champion