From MTN Project Fame, to showing ‘Maradona’ stuff on ‘This is Me’ album and getting a Grammy nomination for her contribution to Beyoncé’s ‘The Lion Gift: The King,’ Niniola Apata, popularly known as Niniola, is one artiste who has patiently crafted her way to become one of the highly rated feminine force in the Nigerian music industry.
Following her debut album which came in 2017, Niniola is back with a sophomore offering, ‘Colours and Sounds.’ For the strides she had made, a second album was anticipated to be a statement of profound impact.
The phrase, ‘Colours and Sounds,’ further heightened appetite of fans for the new body of work from the acclaimed Queen of Afro-house. Afro-house, as a genre, is a blend of Afrobeats and house. The genre of ‘house’ is characterised by fast-paced dance music and repetitive rhythms. Fans of Niniola would agree that this is the style that has defined her music over the years with infusion of elements of Afrobeats.
The 15-track project explores dominantly Afro-House with only a few tracks in pure Afrobeats. Nini deserves credit for an apparent daunting task of infusing ‘colours and sounds’ on her Afro-House style. Across the album, one could hear traditional South African ‘Amapiano’ and Jamaican dancehall elements. At one point, she was all Fela, at another it was Angelique Kidjo-esque.
In terms of content, tracks such as ‘Innoncent fagbo’ and ‘Boda Sodiq’ help to drive home feminist messages. Apart from ‘Omo rapala’ and ‘Designer’ which had already been released as singles, ‘Night day’ featuring Nonso Amadi, ‘So serious’ featuring Sauti Sol are some of the tracks which should easily impress her audience.
The track, ‘Look like me,’ particularly, will be difficult for the Nigerian audience to relate with. Although it may impress as an unnecessary waste of music time, the song is completely ‘house’ and it appears Niniola had her international fan base in mind with it.
While Niniola might feel justified with the tag ‘Colours and Sounds,’ after her efforts to introduce new and foreign elements to her peculiar Afro-house style, staying true to Afro-house all through the album with only a couple of exceptions appears more downside than upside for the album. One would have expected her to leave her comfort zone and try out other genres entirely and not hybridize.
With ‘Colours and Sounds,’ a casual observer of the album cover art would be prepared for diversity, experimentation and assortment of sounds and styles. However, it becomes different flavours of the same sound meal. Moreover, halfway through the album, the motif fast-paced pop was already becoming less fascinating.
Overall, the album does not belie the talent of the award-winning singer and songwriter. However, in a generation where artistes constantly evolve to avoid being caught up with, going forward, Niniola may need to consider her absolute devotion to Afro-house.