Obongjayar & Sarz — Sweetness — EP Review

Electronic | Soul | Afrobeat

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple Music

To prove just how amazingly crazy the month of July has been regarding EP’s, it had yet another short project up its sleeve (despite my firm belief that my last review covered what I thought would surely be the final EP of the month). Better still, one of the artists behind this EP had been the creative behind my favourite EP of last year; who else, other than Obongjayar.

For those of you who are proving just how underrated this artist is, Obongjayar is the stage name of Nigerian soul/afrobeat artist Steven Umoh. I first discovered his music through the late 2018 single “Never Change”, and from there, I had enjoyed Obongjayar for the sheer level of passion and engagement he channels through his uniquely gravelly vocals.

I was eagerly awaiting the next musical project from Obongjayar which, after almost a year of teasing, finally arrived in the form of his sophomore EP, 2020’s Which Way is Forward?. What was easily my favourite EP of 2020, Which Way is Forward? carried both a generous amount of tracks, and a fully fleshed-out view of his addictive aesthetic. He clearly tackled soul in a very traditional sense, and paired with the important sentiments of many tracks, made for what is an iconic project, in my opinion.

But even with the quality that said EP brung, as well as a few collaborations with some well-known artists (including Danny Brown and Moses Boyd), I still don’t think enough people are talking about Obongjayar as much as he really deserves to be. In an attempt to gradually try and rectify that problem, here I am, talking about a brand new project of his.

This new project, sees yet another collaboration between Obonjayar, and another artist. But this time, the collaboration spans throughout, as opposed to just one single. The other artist in question, is the Nigerian record producer Sarz, and the project in question, is an EP, titled Sweetness.

Sweetness is a four-track EP, with a total runtime of just under 15 minutes. But despite its less substantial helping than the likes of Which Way is Forward?, this project still manages to feel like a complete piece respectfully.

But more importantly than that, we get to see a different instrumental style, in comparison to the remainder of Obongjayar’s discography, and this can of course be credited to Sarz’s skillful and creative production. It definitely towards more of a fusion of Afrobeat and electronic pop, as opposed to the familiar traditional soul, and this goes surprisingly well with Obongjayar’s vocal style.

But aside from simply being “this is a fusion of those styles”, each track still manages to carry their own musical flavour and luminosity. A great comparison would be between the spellbindingly vibrant and nocturnal feel of “If You Say”, against the more spring-like, and sobering sound of this EP’s closer “Nobody”.

And while the narrative sentiment is a bit more simplistic this time around, both the musical uniqueness and versatility allow all four tracks on ths EP to be enjoyable in their own right.

And while the only small criticism I’d have, is that I simply wanted to hear just a little bit more from this EP, what we do get is further proof that Obongjayar is able to knock it out of the park time and time again. And while doing so this time around, he has introduced me to a pretty awesome producer too!

Favourite Tracks: Gone Girl | If You Say

Metallic Music | 1789

Enjoyment: ★★★★★ | Memorability: ★★★★ | Atmosphere: ★★★★★

Uniqueness: ★★★★ | Satisfaction: ★★★★ | Narrative: ★★★

Final Score: ★★★★

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My articles mainly revolve around music reviews and analysis. A bit like Anthony Fantano, but just a decade behind.

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Joe Boothby

Joe Boothby

My articles mainly revolve around music reviews and analysis. A bit like Anthony Fantano, but just a decade behind.

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