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The Pick: Ckay stuns on new single Emiliana

Resident African boyfriend Ckay stuns on highly-anticipated single Emiliana, doubling down on his Emo-Afrobeats to the world wave.

Usually, these sort of reviews begins with a background of the artiste - the sort of year they’ve had musically, commercially, critically. It’s usually for you, the reader’s, benefit - to create a connection with them and understand the context and circumstances under which the song was released. But, if you don’t know the year Ckay has had, it’s either your ability to disconnect from news and mainstream culture is impressive, or, you need to find the nearest church and ask for deliverance. As in, you’ve not seen a single Tiktok, Snapchat video or Instagram reel with somebody saying “ah ah ah ah ah” in the background? Damn.

Okay, fine. I’ll give you some context. Ckay has had a massive year: His two-year-old song blew up on Tiktok and garnered millions of streams. This pushed his brand even higher, getting him cosigns from some of the biggest names in the business, a slot at Wizkid’s record-breaking 02 show and got him on The Late Night Show with Jimmy Fallon, which is by all metrics and standards, a pretty big deal. On the show, he premiered a new single titled “Emiliana” which I enjoyed so much that I have decided to crown it the pick of the litter from last week’s releases. And now, you get to read about it. It’s a win-win for all of us. A round of applause, everybody, as I take a bow.

The best thing about Ckay’s music for me is that he always finds a way to let you know at first glance/listen that it was written and performed by an Igbo man. No really, look at this: You have the opportunity to create a fake scenario in your head about a woman you’re in love with, and the name you decide upon is “Emiliana” - no other tribe is capable of doing this. Also, we all know musicians create fake scenarios, there’s no way Ckay has been in love with that many people. But enough about titles and tribes, let’s talk about the song itself.

Ckay describes his style of music as “emo-Afrobeats.” Associated with rock music, the “emo” tag is used to describe music that is sensitive and full of angst. A cursory look at Ckay’s discography shows that he chose the right term. Songs like “dtf”, “Show My Side” and mega-hit “Love Nwantiti” have a similar undercurrent of sensitivity running through them, exploring themes of love and sadness in equal measure whilst retaining elements of afrobeat albeit with a slowed tempo. On “Emiliana”, he addresses his love for a woman and notices changes in his behaviour because of her. All of a sudden, he’s on the phone all night long talking to her, and thinking about her when his mind is supposed to be on other things.

Produced by BMH and Ckay himself, the track’s softness is built on a combination of piano, guitar and drums, and further accentuated by Ckay’s chanting and adlibs, evoking emotions of desire and painting a mental image of a man well and truly smitten by love. The chorus interpolates lyrics from Soulja Boy’s classic anthem “Kiss Me Thru The Phone” as he goes on to repeat the word “Emiliana” in a crescendo, claiming her as his. His unique vocal style is imprinted solidly on both verses as he waxes lyrical about his love for her.

As his first song since the explosion of “Love Nwantiti”, “Emiliana” is Ckay’s first offering to the new fanbase he has acquired, and it brings with it enormous pressure to satisfy an audience that is quite frankly, expecting wonderful things from him. But Ckay’s charm is his determination to do things in his own way, regardless of pressure to conform or repeat. Like he said before the release of 2019’s Ckay The First, I’ll express myself in my own way and you no get choice but to feel am.” Fortunately for him, and us, the fans of good music, he was right. The music was felt and is being felt with “Emiliana”. It’s emo-Afrobeats to the world.

Stream Emiliana below.

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