Lost files: Melvitto's Soon
This week, we take a look at the Nigerian-American producer's debut, a dulcet collection of slow-burning Afrobeats numbers.
At the moment, Melvitto, real name Melvin Alli-Owe, is regarded as one of Afrobeats most talented producers and artists. The brain behind some of the country’s most popular jams ー Wande Coal’s “Again” and Ayo Jay’s smash hit “Your Number.” ー he released his debut tape Soon, a 5-track EP which he described as “meticulously crafted to change the perception of Afrobeats, and to remove any limitations placed on the Afrobeats sound.” Prior to that, he had done his work in the shadows, helping other shine. But with a mind for, and mastery of music, it was inevitable that he’d come to the limelight himself. With the help of Afrobeats legend Wande Coal, as well as then up and comers Nonso Amadi, Tjan, and Gabzy, Soon proved to be a masterful body of work, highlighting the vast potential of Afrobeats.
“Usual” featuring Nonso Amadi is the tape’s opener and sees the “Tonight” crooner wax lyrical about his superstar lifestyle with all the glamour of money, women and ease. These things, which are considered a luxury for the average person have become the usual for Nonso Amadi, a sign of the advancement he’s made as an artist.
“Shut down na
Usual, usual, usual ay
She get down like
Usual, usual, usual ay
I'm making money like
Usual, usual, usual ay
Burna Boy love like -
Usual, usual, usual ay”
Next up is “Stay” featuring regular collaborator Gabzy. The pair have since combined for a couple of songs and a joint EP, and “Stay” proves that their smooth chemistry did not start today. Probably the best song on the tape and certainly the most popular, the song describes a relationship so beautiful and heady that Gabzy doesn’t want it to end. When his lover needs to leave after a night spent in bliss, he begs - wanting to extend the fantasy and hold his baby for a little longer:
“I know you gotta go, will you stay
Your body making me feel this way
Oh my god, see that waist
Don’t wanna lose you to someone else”
Wande Coal comes in with the vibes that only he possesses on “Her (Interlude).” Splitting the tape equally, the track stands out for the impeccable production blending a host of instruments (piano, guitar, 808 drums) with Wande Coal’s sultry vocals. Like the preceding track, “Her” is a romantic number dedicated to a lover who is driving himself crazy. Although it’s the shortest track on the project, it doesn’t feel rushed - instead, the pace is perfect with Wande leading us down the still waters of romance.
On “The Feels”, Melvitto comes into his own as a solo artist proper, discarding the features and taking on the song himself. Written, produced and performed by Melvitto, “The Feels” is a solid cut from an artist trying his hand at being the best, all-round version of himself. Yet another love song, Melvitto is an orchestra director, guiding his girl with specific instructions as they dance the night away;
“Hold on (the way you whine pon the bed)
Turn round nau (baby just turn round for me)
Go down nau (baby just go down for me)
My baby slow down nau (ooo, slow down for me)”
A slow, sensual song underscored by the almost erotic strums of a guitar, “The Feels” is every bit as cheesy and moving as its name suggests. The added novelty of Melvitto singing heightens its feel-good factor, making it even better.
The project ends with another Cupid-influenced song, “I Do”, featuring Tjan, who, even though we don’t hear his name anymore these days was somewhat of a big deal in 2017. A tad more upbeat than the other songs on the EP, “I Do” is arguably the most traditional Afrobeats on the tape and sees Tjan wooing his love interest by opening up to her about all the things she makes him feel, even going as far as saying “you be the one wey fit make me smoke igbo.” Although I am not sure about the kind of love that pushes one to consume Indian Hemp, I respect the vulnerability it took to confess that.
On Soon, Melvitto strived to expand the limits and confines of what Afrobeats was by showing what it could be - exchanging the standard fast, buoyant tempo for a slower pace. This style is basically a staple of the genre now, but it wasn’t as common back then, and to build your debut release as a solo artist on that risk is a sign of utter conviction in the quality of your work - a quality that Melvitto has continued to showcase ever since.