Growth is a funny thing. Sometimes, it leads directly into visible improvement, but with little substance. Sometimes, growth is actually regression for some people. They are the only ones who see the growth, others can't.

For WeTalkSound, neither is the case. In 2017, I caught a whiff of what was to become the biggest community of creatives in Nigeria. That year, the idea was mostly based off passion and no real direction. Nonetheless, they were serving as a platform that showcases the art of budding Nigerian talent through conversations on the virtual community of Telegram.

It was obvious that something was happening - nobody just knew what it was. At the time, I interviewed Dolapo Amusat, the convener of the community. Coincidentally, he was also my fourth major interview as I set off on a path that I didn't realize was journalism. That was 2017 - just before LOFN 1 dropped.

In hindsight, my review for LOFN 1 was slightly harsh. These were kids like me who were simply trying to figure things out. They were no experts at creating albums or anything - they were just contributing their quota to the culture. In 2019, they released the second installment of LOFN - it was better, but still not groundbreaking.

Now, we are on the third installment of LOFN and its a stark reflection of what growth is. In fact, it is the quintessential representation of what happens when you allow talent to grow - It dropped on Valentine's day, 2020. For one, WeTalkSound is growing exponentially with better direction and what it wants to become as a creative agency that banks on human capital.

On the music front, artists like Meji, Vader or Inglorious M.O.B epitomize the issue of growth.

Around the first time I spoke with Dolapo Amusat for WeTalkSound, I heard Meji deliver a reply to MI Abaga's 'You Rappers Should Fix Up Your Lives' and I wasn't impressed. But since then, I've heard his last four singles and boy, he's onto something impressive. This time, he delivered the best song on LOFN 3 with, 'Overkill.'

There is the element of actual rap and sung-rap as Meji discusses the reasons he feels love for a woman. It's like he merged Future, 6lack, Drake, XXXTentacion and others into one.

For Vader, the talent has never been in doubt. On Lagos In July, a collaborative EP with TGM (Dolapo Amusat), he showcased his growth, but 'Half of a Mellow Son' is the best representation of his evolution as an artist yet - not just a rapper. He is feeling more comfortable with taking on 'risque' beats with killer deliveries.

'Half of a Mellow Son' is built on a beat that deftly carries elements of Hip-Hop and afrobeats. He also effortlessly delivers copious amounts of 'wash' towards a faceless woman. However, the best part of this song is the smooth switch between English, Pidgin and Yoruba with the soul of comedy. Vader has to watch the shadow of Falz with this style though.

Inglorious M.O.B has always been a talented rapper, but his content was always inaccessible. This time, on piano-based ballad-rap, M.O.B kills things. Calling out his insecurities and with less distracting undertones that we heard on, 'Big Sam,' M.O.B accepts himself and beautifully closes the album with a question, "Do you love me now?"

But that's not the only magic on LOFN 3. With something similar to how M.O.B closes the album, Shakez rides a Teckzilla beat with impressive storytelling and penmanship about the negative effects and doubts off a long-distance relationship. Such is the diversity of topics on LOFN 3 that it feels like a diary for many-a-love-themed drama that Nigerians in their 20s face.

Even when the two songs essentially address the same issue, something stands one song out from the other - however minimal. The wildest song on LOFN 3 is 'Red Handed.' Let's just say it's the Yoruba demon anthem.

Chris Alnight was caught 'Red Handed' with another girl with a "Front like a bonnet and a back like boot...", but he blames the xanax he consumed and says, "How can I resist her with the xanny in my system?" Wow, the gods of Yoruba unfaithfulness must be elated. 'Adiza' follows with the soul of Palmwine music as KingPells sounds like Tec of Show Dem Camp.

"Prior to cupid catching a felony, I put ice cream on that melanin.." exemplifies the lyrical brilliance of Pells' verse - take a bow, mate. The palmwine, folk soul ushers in, 'Konibaje' and its offers of hypergamy.

Dancehall is the base for the tales of mutual attraction on, 'Connection.' My favourite part of this song is when Jola Bello sings about her skipping a beat when she sees a faceless man. If only Nigerian women could be this vocal about it. The same dancehall base ushers in, '25/8.' The best part of this production are those guitar chords.

Lyrically, it's amazing how '25/8' is personification that explains the pain caused by 'hard to get' as Caralee sings about her readiness. Dwin The Stoic rides the fusion of Native American music with Chinese sounds from a Guzheng and a recorder. But then, somehow the beat evolves into afrobeats - this is amazing. The song is titled, 'Juju' and Dwin thinks 'Juju' is why he feels that strongly. Ha!

The same Chinese effects of a recorder/flute punctuate 'Fragile.' The sentimental ballad documents the thoughts of a man reminiscing about a relationship gone wrong. He then thinks out loud the dreams of mending the damages of that relationship.

'Olomi' comes with another set of adulation, but I think it should either have been cut or be moved to track four.

Final Thoughts

LOFN 3 is by far the best LOFN installment yet. It's direction better and so is the execution. More importantly, the production is imaginative and expansive. Even when the genre is familiar, something - a string, a drum or whatever - stands out.

Like other LOFN installments, LOFN 3 still feels like individual collaborations from different artists that got made into an album, but then, it also feels like more planning went into making LOFN 3. For one, the track listing is better - it aids topical and sonic progression. That's one thing even 'professional' A&Rs still can't get right.

Thus, the greatest victory on LOFN 3 is detail.

Ratings: /10

• 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

Tracklist: 1.5/2

Content and Themes: 1.8/2

Production: 1.7/2

Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.5/2

Execution: 1.5/2

Total:

8.0/10: Champion