The singer's return to solo work is another milestone in his sonic evolution.
Ever since his sultry voice captured the ears of fans on Blaqbonez’s 2018 hit “Mamiwota”, Oxlade has quickly established himself as a staple of the industry. With a trademark falsetto, a willingness to experiment with different sounds, and natural humour to add spice, the 24-year old has shown he has all the qualities to last in the game with quality and reach great heights.
2021 has seen Oxlade invest in more collaborative work. The singer appeared on projects by other artists such as DJ Spinall, Ajebutter 22, and Sarkodie. However, with the release of his new EP Eclipse, the spotlight is back on his work as a solo act. Eclipse is his second body of work, following 2020’s Oxygene. Exclusively produced by DJ Coublon, the concise four-track tape is an examination of love and its accompanying emotions.
The project’s opener, “More”, is heavy on the drums as Oxlade delves into his feelings for the woman who’s the subject of the song. In usual loverboy fashion, he is honest and vulnerable in admitting the lengths he would go to keep her. Although “even if you do me wrong, I no go vex for you” is a sentiment many might not agree with, the depth of his feelings for this beautiful Queen is impressive and moving. A smooth groovy track that has you nodding your head and tapping your feet without knowing, the tune is classic Oxlade, and a great opener to the EP.
Next up is “Ojuju”, the lead single for Eclipse. Released two weeks before the project, “Ojuju” features Oxlade’s trademark falsetto over DJ Coublon’s incredibly smooth production. Contrary to the project’s, where loud and unabashed love reigns supreme, Oxlade is cautious on “Ojuju” as he explores the drawbacks of being involved with a person who is undeserving of his affection. Even though he’s not without faults, the situation is tiring as his partner is unfaithful and disrespectful to their relationship. In his usual humorous manner, he compares this kind of love which brings more aches than peace, to a masquerade because it’s giving him nightmares.
“Pay Me” is a return to standard programming. Here, his love interest is a priceless gem he’s willing to risk it all for. Backed by a harmonious combination of guitar, drums and a trumpet, Oxlade accuses her of using charms to secure his heart as the intensity of love he has for her is not normal. In a continuation of the spiritual metaphors and references, the chorus paraphrases the bible in Mark 8:36. However, instead of the proverbial man losing his soul in pursuit of the world, Oxlade is in danger of losing his woman.
Ironically, the project comes to an end with “Incomplete”. A direct opposite to “Ojuju”, the closer showcases Oxlade begging for forgiveness as he has wronged his lover this time. The fears he expressed in “Pay Me” have manifested, and the love in “More”, which seemed so unshakeable, has withered. “I am incomplete without you”, he cries as he tries to justify his infidelity while pleading for understanding. Another track filled with that distinct brand of Nigerian street humour, the imagery is vivid as he describes the shame and sadness he feels: “My body go dey push/ My brain go dey tanga/My eye go dey red/ My bone e go dey pangalanga gbongboshiga/My body go dey manya/ My mouth e go dey move left and right/I go dey stammer.”
“Gbo gbo wa la ma je breakfast”, a popular saying on Nigerian Twitter, perfectly encapsulates the cyclical nature of life. Everybody’s turn will come, don’t worry. Eclipse emphasises this, too, documenting the highs and lows of love and affection. There’s space for everything you can feel: tiredness and exhilaration, caution, and the recklessness that comes with being head-over-heels. Through it all, there is one constant: the honesty and vulnerability needed to discuss one’s feelings at all times. With humour, a commitment to beautiful melodies, and deceptively deep songwriting, Oxlade’s return to solo work is an excellent gift and another milestone in his sonic evolution.