Apollo Album Review – Fireboy Lays Claim to a Sound god Title

Fireboy DML’s appearance on the Nigerian music scene with his single “Jealous” was like a sudden flash of lightning across the sky; and it will forever remain in the minds of music lovers. After months of riding on the success of his single, he then went on to release his debut album, “Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps”.

The success of his debut album was phenomenal. Fireboy not only ticked all the right boxes by creating a commercially successful project without sacrificing his sound/style to follow mainstream trends, but he also deviated from the conventional style known to us all by not featuring any established artiste on the album.

“LTG” is regarded by many as worthy of being inducted into a Nigerian debut album Hall of Fame that has the likes of Wande Coal’s “Mushin 2 Mo’hits” and Wizkid’s “Superstar”. This level of success enjoyed by Fireboy put him in a position to either go further up or come crashing down with his future projects.

In a daring move that showed everyone watching his budding music career that he won’t rest on the laurels of his successful debut album, and that he is not scared to put himself in the same arena as the music giants, Fireboy DML released his second studio album titled “Apollo” on the heels of Burna Boy’s highly anticipated album, “Twice As Tall”.

For those who are not familiar with Greek mythology, Apollo is the name of a god recognized as the god of music, art, poetry, light, and a few other things. It leaves one wondering about Fireboy’s choice of such a title.

Is he subtly proclaiming himself a music god, or is he sending a message that he is going to remain at the top?

“Champion”, the first track on the album, immediately clears any doubt with its lyrics:

“I be King, I’m the best my generation ever seen, I came suddenly I be like Nepa bill

And ever since, I never miss, I’ve been smashing I’ve been killing everything…

Remember this, I’m a king, I’m a legend in the making”

The backup of a church choir chanting “champion, champion” in the chorus, gives a feel of the moment during a coronation service when the royal moves towards the throne to be crowned. What a perfect way to give listeners Goosebumps in anticipation of all that the album has in store for them. It is a calm curtain raiser, and the cool tone sets up well for a transition to more upbeat tempos.

Unlike his last album, he features other acts on this album, and D Smoke’s rap verse is an indication to those who are accustomed to hearing only Fireboy’s voice on his tracks that this project won’t be the same.

Fireboy’s solo voice accompanied by the sound of a lone conga drum during the first few seconds of “Spell” is like a calling card to expect a track with an Afro-fusion upbeat tempo.

He doesn’t disappoint on this track. He brings back his lover boy vibes, singing about being hypnotized by a woman with an infusion of a high pitched “you put a spell on me” that indeed feels like the voice of one truly under a spell.

The upbeat Afro-fusion melodies will get you on your feet, but nothing would prepare you for Wande Coal who features on this track. Wande comes in singing with his usual vibes but then switches to sing with a silky smooth high pitch to match that of Fireboy.

Being serenaded by these two amazing vocalist is an early gift from Fireboy to his fans, it is indeed a collaboration made in heaven. However, if you were expecting it to lead to more of the Fireboy vibes you are used to, then, you are in for a surprise with what comes up next.

The third track, “Eli” is one of the singles released off the album. Pheelz, the producer of the track, put a new twist to Afro-fusion as the song begins with an orient (Chinese, Japanese…) sound as the main tune, then he throws in a mix of tinkling metal sounds, bass, hi-hats, snare rim click drum sounds, and other sounds to create an exceptionally rich sound.

If by dropping his vocals on this complex tune, Fireboy aimed to prove that his versatility goes way beyond what he did on “LTG”, then, he proved his point. He transitioned perfectly from “Spell” by still singing about the hold of a woman over him:

“Oh my gad, she be viper…

She a belly belly belly dancer…

She don dey move she don dey whine back”

Then he sings a chorus begging the prophet Elijah, and anyone else to save him:

“Jah Eli Jah…someone come save me save me from Delilah, save me from Delilah”

Fireboy DML – ELI

Although, he doesn’t drop A1 lyrical content — considering that he does have the range — the lyrics still blends perfectly with the hypnotic vibe he intends to portray. And for such a complex tune, it seems good enough. A mesmerizing solo guitar finishes off this track, and credit must be given to both Pheelz and Fireboy for creating such an amazing tune.

“Tattoo” is another one of the three singles released off the album. The soft strings of the guitar at the intro set the tone for this steamy song. Fireboy sends the imagination of the ladies wild with his sexual innuendos:

“When you need that bamboo just call on me

Let me be beside you, or maybe inside you”

The cool stimulating vibe of this song serves just one purpose, and as they say, if you know, you know.

Fireboy DML- Tattoo

“Favourite Song” is another attempt to show that he can work with any sound, and so he drops his vocals on an 80’s club sound. It is definitely a bold move as not everyone in his generation listened to 80’s music, but some might relate to the sound if they’ve listened to Bruno Mars. However, it is not a bad experiment, and he holds his own, although, the catchy sound keeps your attention off his lyrics.

“New York City Girl” is the first single he released off the album. As a single, this song did good and pulled great streaming numbers, although, some would not accept it as a hit. However, listening to it now on the album, it sounds a little bit off, maybe because of the transition from an 80’s party vibe to it.

The beat will get you humming and swaying your head, but being that it is another love song which is his specialty, it doesn’t match the creativity or energy he is known for, which he has already displayed on other tracks.

The next track, “Lifestyle”, comes on with a beat that immediately gets you prepared to dance. The sounds, beat, guitar, and the horn sound gives it everything needed for you to say, “this jam go be better gbedu” and it doesn’t disappoint. With the lyrics of the song, Fireboy takes some time on this track to answer to naysayers.

“Airplane Mode” brings back the Fireboy from “LTG” with relatable lyrics, and a delivery that touches the heart. With a very calm vibe, Fireboy sings about everyday issues:

“So many things wey dey bother man, stress from friends and family…

When a problem goes life comes with another one”

It is a song everyone can connect with; he brings his lyrical A game back on this track while sprinkling a little brag about the strength of his personality on it, and lets everyone know of his aim to become one of the many music industry legends.

The unmistakable sound of a bagpipe induces a solemn mood at the beginning of “24 (Interlude)” and Fireboy once again serenades listeners with soul touching lyricism within such a short time frame. It is not clear if the lyrics are admonishing himself or his listeners:

“But you go dey okay, you go dey alright, if not today then tomorrow night”

But they are however lyrics that definitely serve as words of encouragement to someone out there who needs to hear such, and hold on to some love and light.

“Dreamer” is the type of song to get you in your feelings; no song gets you there better than that about a jilted lover: “if you had no plans to be here why did you have to lead me on”. It is another track that Fireboy uses to showcase his authentic style of delivery.

The sound of a solo acoustic guitar accompanying him as he sings about a lover who no longer wants him, would be very familiar to many who listen to those type of songs, but the instrumentals went up a notch with the introduction of a violin, and then drums. His vocals also hit a higher pitch to produce a suitable dreamy effect, before a solo electric guitar finished up this lovely track.

At last, a collaboration between Fireboy and Olamide! The YBNL boss and his protégé team up on “Afar” to give fans what they’ve been waiting for. The intro chant makes you feel they have something heavy and real to talk about, and they did.

Everyone wants to have only real ones in their circle, most especially celebrities like them, and that is the main message here, that the fake ones should stay far. The drums and the chants mix perfectly to produce a steady tempo, and Olamide drops a verse that isn’t his customary energetic rap style but still fits. A solo wind instrument at the end does justice to the track.

“Go Away” is yet another cool lover boy vibe, and Fireboy does his thing singing smoothly about unrequited love with chants and a wind instrument playing along to liven up the sound.

“Shade” is classic Fireboy doing his usual groovy thing to an upbeat tempo, but this time it sounds fresh considering the listener is transitioning from consecutive cool tracks, and the chorus carries the song well. It is definitely one to put on repeat just so you can dance.

Transitioning from one body shaker in the previous track to another on “Friday Feeling” was needed to keep listeners on their feet at this point, especially to keep their spirits up after listening to so many tracks. Pheelz does a lot of heavy lifting by making such a groovy vibe that needs little or no extraordinary lyrical input from Fireboy who drops melodious vocals on the track.

Fireboy – Friday Feeling

“God Only Knows” may not sit well with some listeners in terms of transitioning from a party vibe to something so calm, but regardless of the step down in tempo, you will eventually appreciate what Fireboy did with this track.

A loud snare and bass drum beat plays while Fireboy sings about reminiscing over his actions towards a lover: “for a while I’ve been thinking, why did I ever push you away”, then he sings a chorus about leaving the chance of ever seeing his lover again to divine fate. It is at this point you appreciate the fact that this is not your regular Fireboy lover boy vibe; he uses a backup of deep humming, mixed with tribal chants to recreate a Lion King vibe that fits with the theme of divine fate.

The intro to “Sound” will get you excited in anticipation of a banging tune, and without a doubt Pheelz actually did create a monster tune. These two saved intoxicating high grade music for last.

Fireboy had no intention of letting Pheelz take all the shine; he entered the track with lively lyrics that matched the sound:

“I just realized, when I come around and when they play the sound, I just feel alive

I’m not just a singer wey dey give the ginger, I give you the vibe…

And when you give me the rhythm and bass chai!”

He portrays himself as one who is possessed by the spirit of music, and his chorus pays homage to the spiritual power of sound:

“Away away, the sound is taking me far away

Again again, I’m feeling something inside of me…

I go crazy, I go crazy when I hear the sound

When I hear the sound…”

The delivery on this track is pitch perfect, and Pheelz also hit all the right notes, most notably with the reverberating trumpet sound that spices up the vibe.

“Remember Me” closes the curtain on his performance, and he goes down a positively sentimental route with this track.

Most people who set out in life to accomplish great things also want to be remembered for doing good, and work to leave a legacy that stands out. Fireboy shows on this track that he is one of those people.

His second verse is even more touching; he passes a vital message about life to everyone that serves as a befitting closing remark:

“One day when it is your time, you will leave this world behind

All the things you said and did will be your legacy…for you see life is like a song

It doesn’t just go on and on, there is an end to everything

So as you dance and as you sing, make the most of the melodies”

Does Fireboy Deserve Apollo Status?

Fireboy proved with this project that his range has increased, and he can no longer be boxed into the same space as many of his peers. Although he showed signs of his versatility on his debut album, he worked with more complex sounds to prove he has grown within such a short period, a sign that he is definitely ascending to great heights.

Written By : Osero Ojeaga

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