'Playboy': Not a lover, not a fighter, Just a little life [Pulse Album Review]
Fireboy is the artist behind 'Jealous', 'King', 'What If I say', 'Tatoo', 'Like I do', and 'Spell' which are hopelessly romantic songs spread across two albums through which he has defined his artistry.
If he was dismissive of the aggressive expectations of superstardom on his seemingly love-themed sophomore effort, 'Apollo', he embraces most of the offerings of superstardom on his third album. While he occasionally reverts to his introverted tendencies, he revels in his ability to take a trip to Paris on a whim.
It’s no coincidence that he sings about his rejection of smoking on ‘Peru,’ while he also admits that he prefers to do molly in the same breath. For context, molly is a colloquial name for MDMA, a stimulant that’s used for recreational purposes. Let’s just say that molly isn’t the best thing for the body, but nightlife seems like nothing without a recreational drug these days.
When he released the visuals to his 2022 single 'Playboy', Fireboy chose to present himself as something of a young Hugh Hefner. When he announced that his third studio album will be called 'Playboy' it wasn't difficult to guess the artistic direction. But at certain points, the title does seem to be at loggerheads with the euphoric, oft-reflective and celebratory themes of the album.
Having soared to success and achieved international success, Fireboy has been conditioned to live his life in a way that agrees with the standards expected of a superstar. In 'Playboy,’ the 26-year-old is putting his foot down and choosing to live freely.
"My life's about to change but I feel some type of way," Fireboy says in the opening track as he narrates how he used drugs and women to deal with pressure, troubles, and fears that come with fame.
From Loverboy to Playboy: Having elected to live a little, Fireboy undertakes to rebrand himself from a lover to a rock star. From a lover boy to a Playboy, and to achieve this he sought the assistance of superstars who know how to convey the wanton hedonism and showmanship he hopes to communicate.
On 'Ashewo', he narrates the intersection between sex and alcohol. The old Fireboy would have sang out his heart to convey the hurt that comes from being cheated on but the new Fireboy is an understanding Playboy. "If I cheat on you, I'm sorry. And if you cheat on me, don't worry" he says as he expresses a new mindset. The beat notably offers Highlife synthesizers which is the choice melody for a philandering tune.
Fireboy continues to strip himself of his lover boy's cloak using his new fame as an excuse to adorn a Playboy robe. He flaunts his success on 'Playboy' and offers it as a defense for his new hedonistic lifestyle.
The old Fireboy would have demanded a total and absolute commitment from a love interest. However, as a Playboy, he can compromise as he displayed on 'Ashewo' and 'Compromise' with Rema which also had highlife elements. And like a Playboy, Fireboy makes a big deal of the bare minimum efforts he puts into being a faithful lover.
Even when he chooses to sing about love, it has more to do with conveying the desire to use his riches to get what he wants. In 'Sofri', his vocals sit behind catchy percussion as he offers a girl a good time in return for a good time.
In 'Diana' and 'Adore' he puts up Pop rap performances as he reaches out to international consumers through familiar sounds. Chris Brown displayed why a joint EP with an Afrobeats act needs to happen and Shenseea offers a helping hand with the Caribbean market.
Fireboy travels back to the good old days as he switches to Afrobeat in 'Afro Highlife' to offer a classic from a seasoned entertainer who enjoys the company of beautiful women and the admiration of his peers. While the riffs might have some Highlife feel, the drum arrangement, chorus, melody, delivery, and horns make it unmistakably Afrobeat. And besides, there's nothing like "Afro-highlife" as Highlife is already a Nigerian/African sound hence the prefix serves no purpose.
A superstar rolling stone, Fireboy is committed to enjoying the goodies that come with being an international superstar and maybe engaging in some trysts and assignations while at it. "I'm in San Francisco jamming" he says on 'Peru' and "Naija boy wey dey go foreign" Asake sings on 'Bandana' as Fireboy flaunts his Jet life.
The exotic life of a young superstar is placed on display in 'Playboy' and 'Havin' Fun' where Fireboy opts for reggae to drive home the fun, carefree, and stress free message.
Through his previous albums, Fireboy presented himself as an artist who has worked hard for his success and after he found it, he still had to keep his head down and be the picture-perfect superstar the media and fans love. He has come a long way, he has kept the family close and made investments for his future as he shares on 'Glory'.
So before he breaks under the pressure of being one of Africa's brightest stars, 'Playboy' is his plea that he be allowed to live a little.
I, for one, thinks he has earned every right to live as he fancies.
In his third album, Fireboy stripes off the robe of a lover which he has adorned for two albums. He goes from everyone's favorite lover boy to a superstar rolling stone as he demands to be allowed to live a little.
The production allows him to explore the flamboyant and boisterous soundscape that conveys the superstar Playboy lifestyle he puts on display on the album.
Fireboy is one to go for a thematic approach in terms of content and he was able to offer a larger-than-life bad boy character that was beautifully punctuated by sexually laced love tunes and feel-good music.
I don't consider 'Sofri' and 'Timoti', 'Havin' Fun' to be great songs as they are a bit bland in lyrics, melody, and delivery. However, as a whole, they don't stick out.
Also, there was no need for the original 'Peru' version on the album as the remix was already sufficient. While this might be a marketing move, it's needless album stuffing. Besides, its absence would have allowed for the remix to replace it at track 10 and 'Havin' Fun' to move down to the penultimate song, and prepare listeners for the curtain dropper.
At any rate, while 'Playboy' doesn’t have the artistic depth of Fireboy's previous albums, it, however, has a sufficient collection of enjoyable singles to make it a good album.
So does this deliver Fireboy his trifecta? I don't think so.
• 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: 1.5/2
Songwriting, Themes, and Delivery: 1.5/2
Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.5/2
Total: 7.8 - Victory
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