Essentials: Victony's Outlaw borders between protraction and defining.
Victony’s vocal performances remain his most defined muscle and for good reason too, as is evidenced all over his new project Outlaw.
“Everybody has an opinion [regarding] what you should do. And I just want to be myself. But it seems like being yourself, especially in this part of the world, it’s sort of a crime. And I’m like — if being myself is a crime, then I’m an outlaw.” An excerpt from Victony’s Apple Music accompanying interview to his sophomore EP, Outlaw reveals little. This is a sentiment most young people from Nigeria feel, but perhaps the intent is to reveal as little as possible. Coming a fair way from his last project, 2020’s Saturn, Victony’s sound and personality have undergone significant changes. A turbulent 2021 where both his life and career hung in the balance perhaps provided clarity and renewed dedication – Victony’s PR has been single-handedly left to his music since.
Inserting himself into the coveted Rolodex of reliable and adequate Nigerian singer-songwriters at a point where most careers falter has been his smartest move so far. Providing stellar hooks and verses to both Mayorkun and Savage on records that went on to propel both collaborators was the certification he needed. Managing to extend the benison from both these efforts into his own music, the release of the twin single pack, titled Dark Times, served as his only solo work in the period. Tasking himself emotionally, the records “Pray” and “Unfamiliar Realms” touch base on his familial relationships, his mother’s influence and impact as well as coming to terms with his life after the fact of the accident.
To be famous enough to be Googled but for all the wrong reasons might be the definition of modern-day ostracization. Victony’s unfortunate car accident in the summer of 2021 is the top search term when his name is typed and a space is given. That sort of cloud is capable of a number of things; deterring you from pursuing the same path you tread pre-incident, deciding your trajectory moving forward or simply deflating one’s confidence. None of these outcomes appears to be prevalent as far as Victony’s music career, yet for some reason, it feels like he constantly borders on the fringes of mass appeal or ignominy. With his latest effort, Outlaw, Victony tries not to stray too far in terms of sonic or lyrical quality and opts to double down on his newfound love of South-African Afrobeat rhythms – specifically the nascent Amapiano.
The Outlaw EP consists of seven tracks and features production from KTIZO, Blind & Frank Moses, Deratheboy, P.Prime, Tempoe & Blaise. Featuring no other acts on the records, speculation of a Burna Boy feature on the second track fuelled widespread anticipation for the EP. Unfortunately, the feature never panned out and as a result, we got 20 minutes of Victony on his own. Perhaps the solitude provided more of an edge than initially imagined – a host of features isn’t always the ideal situation for a young artist attempting to find their voice. That being said, Victony’s vocal performances remain his most defined muscle and for good reason too, as is evidenced all over Outlaw. The seven records consist of two singles and five new tracks. The singles: “Apollo” and “Kolomental” largely maintain his formula for what makes a good African party record. Metaphorical but whimsically on-the-nose lyrics backed by a forever-growing Afrobeats dictionary (Ebelebe under E and U for Uche) lay the template for both these records and for the most part they blend in almost seamlessly to the rest of the project.
The intro record titled “Outlaw” is a prime example of his categorical approach and it lays the groundwork for the tape’s general sound. “Chop & Slide” is a great example of Victony’s deserved position in the emerging Afrobeat hierarchy – recording over a well leased Youtube beat but delivering with a significant degree of poise and dexterity are clear indications that Victony’s standing out is not accidental. “All Power”, “Jolene” and “Soweto” are largely the same record with a varied BPM and alternating subject matter, however, Victony delivers them with enough conviction that you can easily hear either of them on Nigerian radio. The only drawback of this project is the length. A 20-minute runtime will never be enough for an act like this to make a dent in the ever-growing slew of up and comers within the genre and its offshoots. To either make commercial singles with longer shelf-lives or albums aimed at stronger impacts have to be the next logical decision for him and his camp.