Best Debut Album? Victony’s Stubborn Review

The timeline for Victony’s debut album runs deep, beginning years before and unfolding layer by layer to culminate in this project. Like a well-orchestrated movie storyline, both unfortunate and fortunate events have lined up and unraveled over the last three years, leading to the album “Stubborn.” This album has one of the most profound and rich storylines seen in any Afrobeats album.

The story, although not deeply explored in the album, begins in 2021 when Victony experienced a ghastly accident that claimed the life of one of his friends and left him and two others in critical condition. He battled with death for a long time and, even after recovering, found himself wheelchair-bound, facing the grim prognosis that he might never walk again. The story continued with him standing for the first time months later at a Davido show, then entering his walking stick “Grandpa Ebelebe” era, and now achieving a full recovery to walk normally again. The dogged spirit within him has birthed this work body.

The album, like many others, opens with a soothing first song titled “Oshaprapra,” which contrasts heavily with its jumpy slang title. The single features Shorae Moore, whose stellar vocals and smooth flows blend perfectly for a smooth introductory track. With the first line on History “no go dey calculate…,” we are introduced to the world of “Stubborn.” The single which I initially thought would be the first single, follows. In this track, Victony provides a brief memoir of his early days over some rather basic production from KTIZO, which serves just enough to allow Victony to properly recount his story.

P2J introduces the first Amapiano track to the album with the single “Ludo,” featuring Shallipopi. Unsurprisingly, Shallipopi excels in his signature style, delivering a strong performance. However, Victony stands out with an exceptional performance, taking an unconventional pop approach and absolutely nailing it. This track showcases both artists’ versatility and ability to blend different genres seamlessly. “Anita” continues the Afropop & Amapiano hybrid Victony introduced in the prior track, there are few Afrobeats artistes that have gained mastery of this style and Victony is undoubtedly one of them.

Everything” slows down the pace, presenting a mid-tempo banger that remains just as danceable. The single interpolates Post Malone and Swae Lee’s multi-platinum single “Sunflower,” showcasing some excellent work from KTIZO and Blaize Beatz.  “Risk” is an outstanding track, from the instrumentals to the unbelievable fact that it features only Victony. The song has such a rich sound that one could almost swear Amaarae or Asake had contributions (perhaps hidden features). The single is already complete, but what would make it even more powerful is a chorus chanted by a crowd, something like Kanye’s Carnival.

Saint Jhn’s feature on the album is one of its highlights, but the fact that Victony is able to flow and outshine him on the single is even more impressive. “Tiny Apartment” is the perfect song for those moments of distress in a relationship, capturing the longing amidst the turmoil with beautiful music. The only negative I have on the album comes with the next single, “Slow Down.” While it is a beautiful track with a spectacular performance from Victony as usual, Teezo Touchdown’s contribution was very underwhelming. As hard as it is to say, it had to be mentioned. Aside from that, it is a very beautiful single and an important part of the album.

Asake has been featured on nearly every major project this year, and he delivered a hit collaboration with Victony on “Stubborn,” which was released prior to the album. This single, serving as the culmination of the album, reinforces its essence. “Kolo (Kolomental II)” features a house and electronic hybrid sound. The lyricism, with its wordplay on “kolo” (crazy), “colos” (weed), and “kolo” (piggybank), is rather amusing but still forms a very solid track.

Ba$tard, Don’t Be Silly” kicks off one of the most iconic two-track runs I’ve heard in a long time. The mid-tempo, percussion-heavy production, with shakers and guitar 255, delivers some of the best sounds throughout the album. Victony creates a jam with this record, delivering the iconic line, “sharp sharp 1,2,3…/ Ba$tard, Don’t Be Silly.” “Pier 46,” my personal favorite, slows down the album once again, with Victony delivering a lifetime performance on this single. Much of the record feels like a raw, unfiltered studio session with unadulterated vocals, just minimal production and beat to make the vocals shine reminiscent of records from Dijon.

The mood picks up again with “Sunday School,” a record enriched with beautiful strings. The vibe of the song contrasts sharply with its message, covering the frustrations of a distant lover.  Closing out the album with “Street Affair,” Victony has a lot to say, ending with a call to the divine for protection—a perfect conclusion to a legendary performance. 

This body of work is one for the ages, a very solid project from Victony. As a debut album, it is just perfect. Victony aligns the effort, intentionality, and coherent storyline perfectly in the album, making it a strong contender for unanimous Album of the Year.

Check out the Album Here

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