The quality and enjoyability of a debut project is significant to the trajectory of an artist’s career and thankfully, Jinmi Abduls knows this. JOLAG (Jinmi Of Lagos), Jinmi’s debut EP is filled with highlights from top to bottom, an impressive and enjoyable coming out project for an artist that is building a steady growing fan base.
The EP opens on a religious note with a thankful Jinmi on ‘Mowadupe‘. It’s a cliché move for Nigerian artists to open their projects with a song of gratitude to God but there is an irresistible charm to ‘Mowadupe’: it is a reprise of Paul ‘Play’ Dairo’s 2002 hit single of the same title. Self-produced by Jinmi, he merges with the spirit of the song while putting a few spins of his own without whitewashing the original.
Another song that interpolates lyrics from a classic song is the airy ‘Why‘, which pinches lyrics from Shaggy’s hit song, ‘It Wasn’t Me‘. Jinmi asks for forgiveness while reassuring a rightly skeptical lover he hurt in the past, unlike Shaggy the perennial denier even in the face of daunting evidence. Jinmi is the changed non-cheater and he obviously doesn’t consider himself a part of the “Men are scum” generalization. Jinmi takes his time on the uptempo final song, ‘Scum’ to dismiss the common tag and pronounce his uniqueness while addressing a potential lover. The final lyrics on the song is a fine twist, “All girls are scum”, which I translate as “see, all of us are kuku scum, let us revel in it together”.
There’s a poignancy and relatability to Jinmi’s songwriting on his chosen themes of love and relationships. On the sweet and slow crawling ‘Linda Highlife‘, Jinmi oozes dedication on every line to a love interest who is pretty high maintenance. “Next time I go to church, I go pray for you” is a nice and highly sentimental line which Mr Eazi also endorses. Remy Baggins sets the tone with a production that has the nostalgic vibe of old highlife records without sounding archaic, and Jinmi’s smooth-as-velvet vocals inhabits the song with a natural flair.
Jinmi and Remy Baggins partner again on ‘Slowly’, with both artists on vocals and production duties handled by Remy. The cut is driven by slow whine Caribbean vibes with saxophone riff infused occasionally to add more cruise to the vibe. Both artists sing smoothly while oozing lust in their suggestive, not-so-subtle lyrics. “Lagos weather for two” is a pretty apt description these days.
In the run up to the release of JOLAG, Jinmi described his genre of music as ‘modernized highlife’. Although the EP cuts across various fields of contemporary afro-pop sounds, the song that most embodies the ethos of his chosen genre is ‘Kadara’. It is a song destined for wedding parties and intimate dances with Jinmi’s heartfelt lyrics on full scale commitment mode.
Jinmi Abduls radiates warm joy throughout JOLAG’s short run time, giving an established sense of his ability to create relatable love songs without being crass or overly lewd. Jinmi’s subject matter is still compressed but he definitely has the talent and time to expand his gaze. Enjoy JOLAG, because this is a beautiful beginning for an artist with more to come.
Words by Dennis, aka Dennis Of Lagos, aka @ayo_dennis.