In this Work of Art album review, we take an in-depth scope into the Sophomore body of work of Nigerian-bred and YBNL/Empire signee, Asake.
Asake’s Grass to Grace tale precedes his legend just like any other true culture shifter’s. The twenty-eight-year-old, long-nurtured ambition of being heard or blown came to fruition In early 2022. At the time, the singer was just winging it in his career (despite scoring a viral hit two years prior).
His breakthrough came when all he had clamoured for was an Olamide feature, not even a record deal (of which he got signed to the latter’s label imprint).
Today, his trajectory has undoubtedly changed. Asake now takes part in a rich banquet that sits the likes of Ghazi Shami, Olamide, Fireboy DML, TG Omori, and a host of others.
Asake now takes pride in the nickname “Landlord”, which was coined by Nigerian music lovers due to the singer’s overwhelming dominance on various music streaming charts in 2022, especially on Apple Music.
Last year, Asake swooned music lovers around the world with his lively roll-out antics and refreshing sonic style of fusing Nigerian Fuji music elements with South African Amapiano.
His debut body of work, ‘MMWTV’ was a colossal success and was widely received and acclaimed, becoming one of the most successful African debut albums ever- with statistics to prove it.
‘Mr. Money With The Vibe’ upon release quickly became the African album with the most one-day streams, and also became the fastest-climbing debut project by an African Musician on Apple Music.
On the Turntable Charts ( the official catalogue of ranking popular songs In Nigeria), seven songs off ‘MMWTV’ were present in the catalogue’s official weekly top ten list only weeks after the project’s initial drop.
Asake’s Sophomore full-length record: ‘Work Of Art’ carries a lot of expectations due to its predecessor’s success.
On the album’s cover art, Asake poses in between two fine art portraits, one of which is an original piece adaptation of Jean-Michel Basquiat drawn by Nigerian Visual Artist, Ayanfe Olarinde.
The singer interestingly pays homage to the legendary American artist on track 6 (Basquiat).
‘Work Of Art’ maintains Asake’s recurring sonics, vibratos, and music collaborators. When compared with the debut, Asake doesn’t change much which is quite surprising considering the heavy criticism that has been surrounding his lack of sonic diversity – if anything, the sonic maintenance shows how much Asake doesn’t give much hearing to negative feedback from music consumers: “Don’t care what they earning about me in particular” (Lonely At The Top).
In terms of thematic expressions, nothing new either. Asake still explores his usual themes: Gratitude (Olorun), Street- Wisdom ( Sunshine), Afro-ballads (Mogbe), Subliminal Shots (Awodi), and Life of the Party (2:30).
To be fair, ‘Work Of Art’ features few fresh creative inputs from producers like P.Prime and Blaise Beats. In comparison with his debut offering, this differs.
On ‘Sunshine’, Asake interpolates a line from the popular British group- Lighthouse. Asake sings over auto-tuned presets: “Sun’s gonna shine on everything you do”, dubbing the line from the duo’s evergreen record, ‘Ocean Drive’. Such musical manipulation further reveals Asake’s ingenuity.
‘Lonely At The Top’ brings a short-lived nuance into the body of work. It’s the only song that sounds like something he hasn’t done before. It was surprisingly co-written by his label boss, Olamide who also co-wrote a total of nine songs out of the fourteen on the album.
In Summary: Although Asake's 'Work Of Art' sounds like an identical collation of his debut, It still hammers the charm, talent, and sheer ingenuity that has made him a riveting superstar.