Adekunle Gold is one of the artistes whose music marked a resurgence of indigenous Nigerian sounds in a music industry that was being dominated by contemporary sounds, and an urban music culture.
He shot himself into the limelight by singing “Sade”, a cover of One Direction’s “Story of My Life”. Despite the original track being a foreign one with a country music sound, he established his own sound early on by singing in Yoruba to an upbeat tempo of highlife, and it became his first hit single.
Adekunle Gold then went on to release two more hit singles, “Orente” and “Pick Up”. Both tracks further familiarized listeners with his sound and style.
In “Pick Up”, it was evident that his sound drew heavy from highlife, but what stood out more was the melodious Afro sound infused by indigenous Yoruba drums like the Bàtá, and Gángan/Dùndún; sounds which would continue to feature heavily in his music.
“Orente” on the other hand had a surprising mix of acoustic strings, which made it sound like country music during the first few seconds, and the sound of the indigenous drums. The success of these three hit singles preceded the release of his first studio album, “Gold”, the following year.
One can go back to part of his touching lyrics on the intro of that album:
“call me gold, cause I am golden, I’m made of gold, call me gold”
Looking at his exploits so far, those lines can now be viewed as an equivalent to him stating the unique quality of the sound he was introducing everyone to, as well as his exceptional musical prowess.
After receiving widespread recognition for his peculiar sound and style, evident from the success of his debut album, it was only right that his next project would aim to establish him as a music heavyweight.
“About 30”, Adekunle Gold’s second studio album, was released in 2018. On this album he showed a glimpse of his versatility with sounds by recording vocals on pop infused tracks, and it indicated growth in his music.
The album however had the predominant sounds he had started out with; on “Ire” he sang along to a sound that was a seamless fusion of acoustic strings, and his go-to indigenous Yoruba drumbeats and instruments like the shekere.
In staying true to Afrobeat roots, the album featured a track, “Mr Foolish”, which he recorded with Seun Kuti. He also reached across the river Niger to combine his sound with the intoxicating gyration sounds of Eastern Nigerian highlife by recording a track, “Yoyo”, with another highlife maestro, Mr Flavour.
It would be a huge disservice to Adekunle Gold if his lyrical ability does not receive the recognition it deserves. Besides his sound, his lyricism embodies deep reflection and conscious messages.
He expresses himself through lyrics that reveals his experiences and outlook on life, and these lyrics also have a feel of refreshing sincerity, like his lyrics on “Ire” and then on “Fame” when he said:
“Sometimes with my friends I feel alone…everybody says don’t change but how will I grow, I’m scared to do the things I want but people don’t know
I wanted the fame and I no know say the thing go hard oo, some days I want I to run away I no go lie oo.”
An international collaboration with Jacob Banks on the remix of “Ire” could be regarded as further confirmation of the universality of his music.
“AG baby is your baby”, Adekunle Gold’s new calling card to signify his presence on a track, coincides with a significant transformation of his sound which might have gone over the heads of a few listeners.
A string of singles he released in 2019 were the initial signs that he was testing the waters and working with different sounds. “Young Love”, “Before You Wake Up”, and “Kelegbe Megbe” were a deviation from his heavy use of indigenous Yoruba sounds and style.
These singles served as sound bites of the new phase of pop dominated sounds that was to come, and he perfected the transformation and marriage of his sounds with Afrobeats/Afropop on his single, “Jore”, featuring Afrobeats star Kizz Daniel.
For listeners who were observant about this growth, the sounds used on his project in 2020 wouldn’t have been a surprise, but rather a realization of an untapped potential.
Adekunle Gold released his third studio album in 2020, and it was a revelation for many listeners. The two singles released off the album, “Something Different” and “AG Baby” were the perfect teasers needed to wet the appetites of his fans and hardcore Afrobeats fans.
“Afro Pop, Vol. 1” is the result of Adekunle Gold’s ability to push himself, and it brought his versatility to the fore in case it had ever been in doubt. On the album he recorded a dancehall track, “Pretty Girl”, with Patoranking and he held his own. Also, he put down another solid Afrobeats track, “Firewood”, featuring Tekno.
Although, there was a departure from his known conscious lyrics, he compensated with smooth lyricism all through the album that ensured the groovy vibes of his new sounds were at the forefront.
Not many artistes are bold enough to explore other sounds, and might dread tinkering with their signature sounds that brought them success because as some might think, if something is not broken, why try to fix it?
Adekunle Gold clearly doesn’t share that worldview, and his bold move to intentionally work on a transformation of his sounds over the years shows that he is indeed dedicated to making music that stands the test of time.