One of the worst experiences any music lover can go through is listening to any of the collaborative albums by Jay Z and R. Kelly. By the time you get to half either project, you’d simply realize you’re punishing yourself. The butt of any joke concerning joint musical ventures go to those two, thankfully they didn’t adopt a name for a group (Jay KellZ? Jelly? Robert Z?). Both artists were at the peak of their powers during these joint albums but just couldn’t cut it together, the dissonance was palpable.
The idea of two talented artists coming together is always intriguing but there’s always the fear that the output might be underwhelming. Great musical partnerships are almost always a product of great chemistry. No matter how much talent and will the parties involved possess, if that innate unseen oomph is missing, nothing works. There are great examples of artists merging to create solid body(ies) of work, here’s one to add to that list: Odunsi The Engine and Nonso Amadi’s War EP.
Both young, talented and emerging artists, Odunsi and Nonso are part of the new school artists who are on the cusp of ubiquity. Both artists have developed a portfolio filled with impressive solo material that has gained them notoriety and an ever increasing following. War is only destined to raise the hype around both artists. If you aren’t familiar with either artist, War is still a great place to start. In about 13minutes, both artists merge their talents to create a spellbinding project. If you’re familiar with either artist and have any doubt(s) concerning this joint project, those doubts will be uprooted and seeds of appreciation will germinate.
Created from pure intuition, War finds Odunsi and Nonso tackling love, companionship and lust as contracts born of sensuality. The musical orientation of War is intimate, with smooth R&B & tamped down pop music to set the mood. The production though mellow isn’t in any way dour and it’s the perfect mound for Odunsi and Nonso to pitch their sensitive lyrics.
The melody attached to the lyrics are cooed gently and are surefire to lure the listener in. Both artists play off each other with their similar skill set but differing shades in lyrical approach and vocal cadence. Odunsi’s straightforward, cocky gait is well balanced by Nonso’s Tongue-in-cheek suggestive manner of writing. Slightly different angles of approach but always the same target. The Higo and Harry produced ‘Ocean’ uses twinkling keys and soft jabbing drums as its palette. Nonso sings with the smoothness and (partial) naivety of a choirboy while Odunsi’s voice rolls without wrinkle in it’s affirmative tone. Nonso is the guy that wants a lady to have his future babies while Odunsi wants to suffocate another with love. Different sentiments, same endpoint.
‘Ocean’ is the only song without production from the duo. Nonso singlehandedly produces the midcuts – ‘Don’t’ and ‘Stay’. Both songs have a more upbeat orientation compared to the other two songs but still bear the overall feel of the project. ‘Stay’ is driven by growling industrial synths matched with soft cascading percussions and hard drum kick pattern. ‘Don’t’ is Caribbean pop music, fueled by the marimba riffs. The title track, ‘War’ co-produced by both artists returns back to the EP’s initial soulful terrain, throwing in a short percussive bridge at the end for added color.
Words by Dennis (@ayo_dennis).