LV N ATTN displays an eclectic blend of genres, which the pair meld perfectly into a cohesive project with definite mainstream appeal.
Sarz is not your mate(SINYM): this is the title of Osabuohien Osaretin’s – better known as Sarz – debut project, which arrived in 2019. Indeed, the veteran record producer is head and shoulders above most of his peers. His catalogue is something most people can only dream of. He is responsible for feeding hits to some of the biggest stars the country has ever seen ー Eldee, Da Grin, Reminisce, Wizkid, Wande Coal, M.I Abaga, Niniola, just to name a few. He has also been an instrumental figure in shaping the soundscape of the Nigerian music scene for the past decade. However, in recent times, Sarz’s focus seems to have shifted to spotlighting and collaborating with younger, talented acts who expertly blend Afropop and R&B together while also stretching the limits of pop music in Nigeria.
In 2017 he collaborated with Flash, releasing a couple of sweeping bangers. Sarz’s buoyant, spine-tingling percussions and chords served as a solid backdrop for the then 19-year-old’s agile singing. Fast forward to 2019 and the ace producer teamed up with the blue-haired vocalist Wurld to deliver a brilliant collaborative project I LOVE GIRLS WITH TROBUL – his thumping synths and eerie piano keys and guitar chords combining well with Wurld’s honeyed vocals. The tape spawned off-center hits like “MAD” and “TROBUL”, further challenging the reins of mainstream music in the country. A couple of weeks ago, Sarz returned with the sleek and sultry “Tonongo”, this time with Lojay – another young, talented vocalist who blends Afropop and R&B with relative ease and aplomb. “Tonongo”, which was undoubtedly our song of the week upon release, sees Sarz at his best, providing slow, rhythmic drums for Lojay’s slick delivery. However, the record was just a preview of LV N ATTN, a 5-track project that arrived last week.
The tape begins with the pre-released “Tonongo”, nicely setting the tone for the entire project. “Park O X3”, the next track opens with heavy electro thrummings before quickly switching to syncopated drums that set the stage for Lojay’s hilarious and witty opening lines: “So fe joko sinu Mercedes / Abo fe joko sinu Methodist” which roughly translate to “Do you want sit in my Benz (Mercedes) or do you want to sit in church (Methodist)”. The 25-year-old singer tries to entice his love interest – who seems to be a “church girl” – with the finer things in life. He is slightly condescending about it: “So fe sare with legedes / Abo fe joko sinu Methodist” as he implies that his love interest can keep walking while she stays in church. However, at the end of his first verse, Lojay, who is head over heels, succumbs but he also needs some reassurance as he sings “And if I follow you go Methodist / No go leave me for the Mercedes.”
While Lojay’s witty lyricism is impressive, it’s his tender and velvety voice that’s his most potent artillery, something that takes center stage on the titular track, “LV N ATTN”. Here, Sarz’s soothing chimes open the floor before the beat drops, repeating his trick on “Park O X3”. Lojay is once again seeking love and intimacy; his plea, this time, is assertive and unflinching as he repeatedly sings, “Girl, I need your love and attention”. His voice is confident and crisp, so is his staggered delivery as he constantly finds pockets of spaces on Sarz’s rhythmic drums. He’s also joined by Wizkid, whose verse is slightly lacklustre and uninspiring. His verse provides shock value more than anything else. While it’s nice to see the pop polymath show his versatility, slightly altering his style to retain the flow and progression of the record, “LV N ATTN” could have fared better without his. input
On “Panty” Sarz slows the tempo all the way down, leaving ample room for Lojay’s incredible melodies and raunchy lyrics. The slightly hypnotic record has heavy R&B leanings, making it sound like something PartyNextDoor could come up with if he tried his hands at an Afropop-inspired record. The tempo picks up on the closer “Monalisa”, an amapiano-inspired banger. Lojay shows his versatility as he keeps up with Sarz’s varying tempos and soundbeds. He also delivers some of the most notable lyrics on the tape: “Girl I’ll be foolish if I don’t let you indulge me / Your lips like poison / I’ll take my chance with you.”
The symbiosis between Sarz and Lojay is almost as good as any. Sarz gives the rising star room to showcase his strengths, allowing his sonorous, rounded tone to thread between his R&B, Afrobeats and kwaito-influenced Afropop studies. Elements of rock and electronic music also rear their head, showing Sarz’s incredible mastery of melding different genres together to constantly push boundaries.
Even though LV N ATTN is not Lojay’s debut, it almost feels like it is. The talented vocalist has a project from 2017 and a slew of other singles before and after then. However, this feels like the first time he’s truly unbirthing himself to the world, and what an introduction he makes. Sarz, in the usual fashion, shows again why he is nowhere near your mate.