Omah Lay improves and grows on ‘What Have We Done EP’ [Pulse Review]
Topically, the EP is a step away from Omah Lay’s ‘Get Layd.’The Port Harcourt-bred singer discusses the pressures and allure of stardom and even gives props to God.
His last EP, Get Layd produced at least three smash hits and has developed into arguably Nigeria's hottest body of work of 2020 - at just five tracks long. The fact that Omah Lay and his team up at Keyqaad are releasing another body of work so hot on the heels of the last one is then worthy of examination.
The purpose of that EP seems pretty clear; December approaches. As much as ‘Get Layd’ was successful, Omah Lay is young and he needs to gain a work ethic towards his debut album, which is set to drop in 2021. More importantly, What Have We Done is an investment towards Detty December.
While we are unsure on the status of Detty December amidst COVID-19 and a vindictive central government, Omah Lay is certain to already be booked up from now till December 31. Instead of just repeating the same five songs alongside the beautiful ‘Do Not Disturb,’ this is a play to improve his rolodex and give him a chance at extended performances.
This will make fans and show promoters happy. On that note, it’s a brilliant idea.
In 2019, Rema released three EPs within seven months. EPs are the new reality and you can seldom put a foot wrong when the music is as good as that on ‘What Have We Done.’ Topically, the EP is a step away from Omah Lay’s ‘Get Layd.’The Port Harcourt-bred singer discusses the pressures and allure of stardom and even gives props to God.
While the vulgar use of words still remains across the records and especially on the Afro-swing beauty, ‘Confession,’ the intensity of that ‘bad boy’ image is doused. His topical conversations get more methodical and he is more introspective. The sound is European as much as it’s African. But largely, the songs are born of Reggae-Fusion and Afro-swing.
‘Confession’ also needed a UK rapper as a feature. That beat is tailor-made for a rapper.
The opening track, ‘My Bebe’ is a Reggae-Fusion record that’s scarily reminiscent of Jamaican producer Walshy Fire’s sound.
In fact, as Omah Lay makes pure promisesof amorous overdose on the track, the trumpets and piano chords that form that piano chords sound cut straight from the Jamaican DJs stable. You almost expect to hear, “Walshy Fire!” It’s sonically cut from the same cloth as ‘Loko,’ which Fire produced for Nigerian artist, Skales - a brilliant record wasted by the artist.
‘My Bebe’ has immense global appeal. With the right feature, made possible by the new Warner affiliation, this track could really catch on in mainstream Europe and other places with a strong nightlife counter-culture. The Afro-swing ‘Can’t Relate’ feels cut straight from Wizkid’s Made In Lagos sound - it’s mid-tempo and it’s built on attractive guitar chords, and woozy cloud strings.
But interestingly, it also showcases Omah Lay in a different light. While he mostly sang about love, sex and ‘demonic’ tendencies on ‘Get Layd,’ he speaks about the allure and pressures of stardom on ‘Can’t Relate.’ The Tuzi-produced magic record sees Omah Lay get introspective aboard a pop record.
While he’s not exactly complaining about the superstar lifestyle, he seems to tell people that they can’t understand him until they’ve been in his shoes. While it might seem like lamentation, the song is just commentary of his new reality. He sings, “I nor get time for talk and chill, nobody understands what I feel, no appetite for the point and kill, I put the Henny in my blood…”
He seems content with the ‘Nike clothes, frozen wrists and girls who are h**s,’ but he prays to God to, “Delete every virus from [his] system, never let your boy fall victim…” Topically, the song feels cut from what Fireboy created on ‘Afar’ and ‘Lifestyle.’
Tempoe created the magic on, ‘Godly.’ Sonically, it is the most Nigerian song on ‘What Have We Done.’ But even with that, the song has a Reggae-Fusion angle with Tempoe’s switch of the percussion around the hook. Topically, Omah Lay defers to God as his protector, his father and his refuge amidst the madness of his new lifestyle. He is grateful for Godly comfort.
He sings, “Man I thank God I Godly, say God nor ungodly, Oluwa nai comfort me when these people dey come bother me… This is why I jaiye sometimes, with a little Henny and ice, make I fit cool my mind, I just wan live this life...” That “Kanji Dam’ line is also really wild.
While ‘Damn [Remix]’ featuring 6lack is a sensible strategic feature, ‘What Have We Done’ could have done with an original fifth track with ‘Damn [Remix]’ as a sixth track.
‘What Have We Done’ feels like a better body of work to ‘Get Layd.’ The latter always felt like a playlist of curated single-worthy records while ‘What Have We Done’ feels more like a body of work.
This writer is also aware enough to admit that the aforementioned verdict could be due to Omah Lay’s improvement in topical conversations and the difference in sound between both EPs. More so, not much separates both projects per quality.
It will be interesting to see if ‘What Have We Done’ produces the hits that ‘Get Layd’ did. At this time, it doesn’t look like that would happen but never underestimate the influence of Omah Lay’s team on radio.
While Wizkid has been an influential artist, Omah Lay needs to step away from anything that could link him to the Nigerian superstar - that’s not a pressure he wants. There are times on this EP when Omah Lay sounded exactly like Wizkid.
‘What Have We Done’ seems like a commemorative title that describes Omah Lay’s journey so far, but it seems to be a complex title for an EP of four tracks. The artwork is aesthetically pleasing, but it seems too abstract to be meaningful. On the creative side, the picture of Omah Lay’s braids with his hands on his face seems like an EndSARS protest fist.
• 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
7.8 - Victory
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