Review of Which Way is Forward? by Obongjayar
My favorite songs: Still Sun, Carry Come Carry Go, Frens
Listen if you like: British rap, Danny Brown, King Krule, Fela Kuti
Obongjayar: a Nigerian, UK-based artist who weaves together mixtures of soulful rap and spoken word with Afrobeat and electronic influences. He completely defies genre while maintaining a relatable sound nostalgic of other British rappers and electronic artists. Obongjayar’s talent is discernible, he puts together a majority of his music by himself.
The release of Which Way is Forward? comes after the release of multiple singles from the album. Although the album is short, it’s a beautifully constructed narrative of what black identity means in a modern society. These themes can be heard directly in the lyricism of Soldier Ant and 10K, which reflect on the intersection of the black experience with omnipresent issues of racism and discrimination.
Still Sun starts the album off with an upbeat electronic track reminiscent to me of Santigold’s L.E.S. Artistes. This song is simple, inspiring. Obongjayar repeats “I know who I am/This is not the end/I’m not afraid of anything.” This track persuades the listener to have strength even in the most difficult times.
In Dreaming of Transit, he sings, “Hoping one day I’d fly away / Nobody told me I had wings.” He reflects on his upbringing and how far he’s come with deep vocals complemented by sporadic falsetto layered onto a drum-heavy melody.
Carry Come Carry Go spins a distinctly electronically-influenced, Afrobeat melody. The song illustrates the loneliness of being away from a lover, there is a palpable longing in his singing, and the spoken word elements dispersed throughout the track. It is probably my favorite from the album, it is emotionally charged and a beautiful cumulation of the different styles that Obongjayar is known for.
Frens is one of my favorite tracks because of the mix of drum beats, harmoniously layered vocals, and energetic rhythm. It reminds me of some of Kanye’s older, gospel-influenced music.
Obongjayar has great potential as an artist and I foresee him gaining prosperity and increased influence as an artist. Definitely check the album out.