Lost Files is a column dedicated to celebrating older projects that might have flown under the radar when they were released. This week, we're taking a look at 234jaydaa's anthology of odes to hurt and loss, Crescent Moon Collections.
About five years ago, the famed alté scene – a nonconformist subculture capturing the style and sounds of many young Nigerians – was picking up steam. Creatives, musicians – and most of all, iconoclasts – were emerging, challenging almost every available norm in the country. They ignored the modus operandi, playing solely by their own rules. For example, many of the scene’s artists disregarded the traditional music blogs and most of the available streaming platforms at the time, mainly employing Soundcloud as their primary medium for release. It helped bypass a lot of the industry gatekeepers, directly reaching their fans. It was also faster, easier, and most importantly, free. One of the movement’s progenitors, Odunsi The Engine, created fridaycruise, an anonymous account (at the time) on the platform that housed unreleased music and loosies from popular faces in the alté scene: Santi, Zamir, Odunsi himself and a couple of others. About two years after creating the account and an extended period of inactivity, an unlikely release appeared – “Coral”, a melancholic, lo-fi rendition from an artist called 234jaydaa.
“Coral” has a dainty uniqueness and rawness to it – the demo-like track had 234Jaydaa’s haunting vocals stretching and weaving around fluid and minimalist production. Shortly after its release, she featured on rare., Odunsi’s debut album, delivering a short but stellar performance on “hectic”. She went on to release two other singles before finally premiering The Crescent Moon Collection, her debut EP, which arrived on Valentine’s Day in 2019.
Crescent Moon saddles influences from a range of genres: homemade alt-r&b, hip hop, pop, and the DIY production of bedroom pop. “Tuscan Sun” is what opens the intricate 4-tracker, a sleek, lulling record that revolves around a vivid, imaginative scenery and a love interest. “Chardonnay summer, summer bummer / Tans and treetops / Flippers and flip flops / Beach bummer cruising,” she repeatedly sings, transporting her listeners to the warmth of summertime. “Bordeaux”, the following track features feather-light singing from 234jaydaa. Her voice cruises on the jazz-inspired production like a ship on a calm sea. Yet, if you bask in its serenity, you might just miss the fact she’s pouring out her soul, singing about hurt and a fractured relationship: “Rain on my window pane / Old pain in the soul / The water drowns the noise.” The track’s highlight comes from American-based Nigerian rapper Dap The Contract, who raises the bar, delivering a standout verse. “Two wings on my back, I swear they never left me / Why would you test me? / You swear I left you, I swear you left me / Still no regrets I take pros from consequences,” he raps in his usual staggered flow.
“Nila’s Interlude” features the most upbeat production on the EP, Lady Donli and 234Jaydaa combining to deliver pensive lyrics and more agile delivery. “Sacred pattern of unbroken unity / Sewn into your wings,” 234jaydaa sings repeatedly, alluding to a cycle of constant grief. Lady Donli also delivers a part sung, part rap verse, perfectly complementing 234jaydaa. The gentle closer “Absinthe” features arguably the 21-year-old’s best vocal performance, a performance that’s slightly reminiscent of her debut, “Coral”. Reminiscing about a past relationship, her part whispery, part piercing vocals sling around lush keys, soft metronomic thuddings and accompanying synths. The lyrics here scan as vivid and personal as she paints emotive vignettes: “I know the lines on your palm / How my cheek fit perfectly in / Warmth radiating from the creases of your smile / Eyes that follow me around,” almost reading like lines from a Nora Roberts best seller.
For the entirety of its 10 minutes runtime, the Crescent Moon Collection is extremely lulling and soothing. Sonically, it takes you to another dimension as 234Jaydaa’s whispery, enticing flow and her aching falsetto bounce around mostly ambient – slightly shoegaze – production. However, lyrically the EP delves into strong themes of hurt and loss. Whether reminiscing about an unforgettable summertime or details of a broken relationship, she keeps you engrossed, whispering into your ears like she’s having a hushed conversation with every listener.