A 1-Listen Review Of Odunsi The Engine’s New EP ‘Denim’
In 2018, Odunsi (The Engine) released his genre–defying debut album ‘rare’ and everything changed. The near perfect curation of the album solidified the singer’s standing in the Nigerian music scene but most importantly, in the alternative music space. Since then, the alternative scene has witnessed a remarkable growth of artists within that space as well as the introduction of many new artists that are consistently stretching the boundaries of what music from Africa should sound like.
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Two years later, when the world had retreated indoors due to the COVID-19 pandemic and many were in search of solace, more people began to find hope in music. Odunsi offered a form of hope to listeners as he shared the body of work ‘Everything You Heard Is True.’ The 7-tracker featured many standouts including records such as “Nu Finesse,” “Wicked, Sexy!,” and “Body Count” which featured Ghana’s Amaarae, Deto Black and Gigi Atlantis.
Odunsi’s dedication to widening the soundscape of alternative music cannot be overstated. On ‘Everything You Heard Is True,’ he continues to distill his eclectic influences into something he can call his own. Since then, he’s only doubled down on showcasing his fine ear for music including his otherworldly productions and his rapid-fire lyricism as seen on the records “Fuji5000,” “Half A Tab” and “Movie Shit” in 2021.
After taking a 2-year hiatus from releasing any projects, Odunsi is now here with his most recent body of work Arriving today is the new EP ‘Denim.’ ‘Denim’ makes an appearance with 4-tracks, and features only one guest, 2AAB, a relatively newcomer into the altè music scene.
In usual 1-listen review fashion, all reactions are in real time while the music plays. No pauses, rewinds, fast-forwards or skips.
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Being the opener of the EP, with this record you already sort of have an idea of where Odunsi’s head is at musically. The record opens with heavy kicks on the production. I will like to believe this is the most braggadocious Odunsi I’ve ever encountered. He opens the record chanting “Nothing to prove, I have nothing to prove/Yeah, I got nothing to prove, these niggas got nothing on me,” affirming listeners of his place and why he’s here in the first place. I surely do like this Odunsi, this record feels new, refreshing and still maintains that Odunsi touch on the production.
Ok, I’m not sure what’s going on but I like it. This track is only 23 seconds long so I don’t know what to expect. It’s starting now. Oh, so this is an interlude and Odunsi is not necessarily saying any words. It’s simply a fine display of his production skills with a build up of violin strings that still sounds so heavenly. I’m just here wondering if this was played with live violins or this was made with a software? Anyways I see why it’s called “Drama.”
Damn, what in the world was that transition into this record? Wow. That’s one of the best transitions I’ve heard this year. Ok, I see what he did there. This is supposed to be a build up from the “Drama” interlude, I like that. On the production of the record, you can still hear the violin pattern from the previous record being played as there’s a fine balance between all the instruments, from the drums to the keys. I’m for sure feeling this. The euphonious track sees Odunsi explore a handful of themes leading to drama, from a problematic muse to his lavish lifestyle and the dreadful experience of being in the limelight. The upbeat tempo of the song juxtapositions the fast life of being a celebrity.
This sounds like Odunsi’s production for sure, and I’ll be shocked if it isn’t. The production of the record plays a large role on this as Odunsi chants “what the fuck” for a large portion of the song. He speaks to his opps and reminds them about how far he has come. 2AAB comes in with an energetic performance as well, leaving no room for a dull moment. The production of the record gives it a euphoric feel and I’m guessing that’s why the record is called “Euphoria.”
7 minutes is way too short. This project could have had two or three more songs, at the very least. I honestly wouldn’t be mad if he gave it another five! ‘Denim’ is Odunsi The Engine operating how he knows best: at his most candid and experimental. On his new EP, Odunsi once again steps out of his comfort zone (if he has any) and reveals new and exciting layers to his artistry and production quality.
For me, ‘Denim’ is producer Odunsi The Engine at his finest moment. He’s rhythmically daring, willing to take risks and ambitious to experiment with a spate of various soundscapes. In addition to his sleek flows and punchy lyrics, Odunsi keeps the EP scintillating with his eclectic production, leaving no room for boredom. Odunsi sings with incredible confidence, and his lines have a repetitive pattern which will surely stick with listeners on first listen. There’s no wasted energy or moment on this body of work as fans witness the full the Engine effect. From listening to this body of work, I feel a bit more connected to Odunsi The Engine in his new era, as it’s clear that he’s more certain about his place in the Afropop canon. Now, we wait with bated breath for his album, ‘Laser Youth Forever.’
Listen to ‘Denim’ here