Extended Play – “Gidi and The Undertow”
Yéla's "Gidi and The Undertow" is a non-conformist journey
This comes across more as a producer's album, with emphasis placed on the beats, rather than the lyrics. ‘non-conforming’ artistes are the lifeblood of the underground scene, and this work feeds that artistic group.
Artiste – Yéla
It’s a first from Nigerian Afro-fusion and R&B singer-songwriter, Yela. The young man who draws creative spirit from a number of top international acts including Florence Welch, Lilly Allen, Darey, Labrinth and Marina & the Diamonds first released his debut single ‘Dance with me’ in 2014.
But a lot has changed since then. The singer has left the comfort of Abuja, and like many others before him journeyed to Lagos, the Nigeria music industry boiling pot, where he aims to take the path well-travelled to stardom.
That quest for growth and fulfillment has gave birth to his debut project, “Gidi and The Undertow” EP. A seven track EP packed with non-conformist sounds, Yela still maintains that glitzy, real, fresh and unadulterated sound that shows character and individualism. He fuses genres seamless, opening off the work with retro-Eastern Nigeria Highlife guitar composition, before crowding it out with synths, basses and kicks on ‘Dance wiv me’. ‘This feeling’ follows a similar path, starting off as a house dance track, but stylized with simplistic gongs and lavish vocals. A meandering album, the song shows promethean quality all through, with one genre quickly giving way for another, house becomes Afrobeats become R&B, become folk.
Dance dominates the first three songs, but a tropical wave washes past and it all goes back to the summer in conscious ‘The Boxes’. The soul remains untouched on ‘Unpopular’, but R&B comes through finally on ‘#ClaponTempo’, and ‘Johni Walka’.
Although Yela’s bravery is transparent on this project, man songs can feel a bit unbalanced due to the switch in instrumentation. This come across more as a producer album, with emphasis placed on the beats, rather than the lyrics. ‘Non-conforming’ artistes are the lifeblood of the underground scene, and this work feeds that artistic group.
Should he stay conformist after this first release, or does he aim to please mainstream radio? That’s solely his business for now. What matters to everyone is that he gets a second project.
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