Following the enormous success of his remixed single “Peru” featuring music titan Ed Sheeran, a partnership that was made possible by the late Jamal Edwards, afro-life pioneer Fireboy DML releases his third studio album, “Playboy.” Following the release of Fireboy’s first studio album, “Laughter Tears & Goosebumps,” in 2019, Fireboy DML now offers “Playboy,” a collaborative effort with an amazing lineup of producers and features, from Chris Brown to Kel-P.
In his distinctive blending of Afrobeat rhythms with R&B melodies, reggae rhythms, and pop orchestration, Fireboy DML has demonstrated the versatility of afrobeats. The result is music that makes one feel as though their life is being scored as they listen. Since the release of his breakthrough song “Jealous” in 2018, Fireboy DML has gained international attention as one of Africa’s rising artists.
As I become older, my life is beginning to make more sense. We are set up for the following 43 minutes by the straightforward arpeggiated piano introduction that opens his third studio album. For Fireboy’s self-reflective monologue on where his fantastic musical journey has taken him so far, the cinematic introduction gives the ideal support. The song “I’m not going to stop till it’s over / You see my cup runneth over” by FireboyDML acknowledges the many blessings he has had thanks to music. Adedamola has acknowledged his calling, and insight is his greatest gift. This is Fireboy DML’s hero tale.
They’ll never see me coming continues to be a successful guitar riff for Fireboy DML. ‘Sungba’ hitmaker Asake joins Fireboy DML in this homage to traditional west African music loaded with upbeat chorus vocals, bringing one of the biggest names in afrobeats right now. Don’t anticipate Asake to have the fast-paced Amapiano impact you’re hoping for. In a self-assured melodic verse, Asake reinforces Fireboy’s Afro R&B sound while showcasing a softer vocal aspect of his craft. Is it what we wanted from the couple at this point, though? It’s difficult not to anticipate more from this partnership.
No one is exempt in a time when artistic expression is closely scrutinized. Fireboy’s choice of title may raise a few eyebrows in what might be regarded as a “diss track” to a former encounter, from Lizzo to most recently Beyonce herself. For the “city lads,” one. In contrast to Dvsn in “If I Get Caught,” Fireboy expresses his true playboy character by saying, “If I Cheat on You, I’m Sorry, and If You Cheat on Me, No Worry…” This message is repeated again throughout the song with very brief verses. The song’s lack of depth makes it sound like a three-minute hook, despite the fact that some people may find it to be resonant.
The album’s title track, “Playboy,” which was produced by Bizzouch, debuted earlier this year and peaked at number four on the UK Afrobeat charts. In this song, Fireboy DML takes an original stance on the term “Playboy,” saying, “Girl you want to play with a big Playboy like me.” We are now quite familiar with phrases like “Igbo” and “Shayo” and can comprehend what Fireboy is saying when he says, “I like shayo I no like gbana,” because to how much afrobeat music has exposed the globe to new sounds as well as new languages and ways of communicating.
Musicians have always had a choice in how much of their love lives they choose to share with us through their music, and relationships and music have always been associated. Adedamola switches the album’s style from pop to R&B and candidly discusses an old incident here. Euro, a Dominican-American rapper, lends his voice to the song “I can’t get you out of my mind I still adore you,” which expresses the agony of loving someone you can’t be with the line “These memories play in my head, I can’t go to sleep.” Violets are blue and these roses are scarlet, I should be burning these flowers instead, you say the least and do the most, you’re so far away from someone so close.
Fireboy DML’s “Diana,” one of the project’s biggest collaborations, features dancehall phenom Shenseea and R&B megastar Chris Brown. Since his 2016 song “Shabba,” which he co-wrote with WizKid, Trey Songz, and French Montanna, Chris Brown has been an avid supporter of the afrobeats movement. Beginning the song, Breezy tries his hand at Pidgin. Although the backing is commendable, authenticity on collaborative tracks is crucial for bridging gaps between cultures and musical genres. Chris Brown’s attempt to sound like an afrobeat artist — rather than the ‘Deuces’ hitmaker — is what this track lacked. But Shenseea turns out to be the breath of fresh air this project needs to get you through, adding character, a lovely melody, and intriguing word play to not only this track but the entire project while staying true to her voice.
The album’s lyrics do what pop music does in terms of creating a vibe, but they don’t necessarily provoke thought or challenge the listener. From this point on, the rest of the album feels rather disjointed as we move from Afro-R&B with a Rema feature on “Compromise” to Nigerian highlife with the lead single “Afro Highlife” and reggae rhythms on “Having Fun.” A little bit of thought goes a long way when it comes to an album’s continuity, and Fireboy DML will keep honing that skill as he maneuvers his career as an artist. Glory, the album’s final tune, is the only one without afrobeat beats, and I can’t help but feel that it foreshadows what to come.
LISTEN TO TRACKS: