A 1-Listen Review of Tim Lyre’s Debut Album ‘Worry<'

Featuring DAP The Contract, Lady Donli & more

The story of alternative music in Nigeria isn’t complete without the recognition of Tim Lyre. Encompassing the collaborative mien of the scene, Tim has created songs with its key players including Minz, AYLØ, Lady Donli and more. With equal strength both as a producer and artist, he’s a polymath connecting diverse sounds and eras, pushing for their exploration into something greater than their individual parts.

Since releasing his early songs in 2016, the Lagos-based creative has consistently projected his futuristic output, bringing his sheen to collaborations and saving some heat for himself as well. After producing a good part of Prettyboy D-O’s sophomore album ‘Love Is War,’ the firebrand artist returned the favour alongside Lady Donli on the upbeat “Highlife,” which was released in November 2021, Tim Lyre’s second single of the year. The first, “Real,” had come in July, pairing affectionate neo-soul flourishes with Lyre’s ear for conversational songwriting.

With these records, the artist stoked the flames for his new tape. Typically, an artist’s debut album is observed for its quality and the artist’s maturity in presenting a cohesive unit, but Tim Lyre is hardly a newcomer. If anything, the strength of his previous singles has me amped for what I’m about to hear.


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In usual 1-listen review fashion, all reactions are in real time while the music plays. No pauses, rewinds, fast-forwards or skips.


Skittering keys, a Trap flow starting out this one. “If you ever see me manage, start to panic” sounds so menacing in the context of these bars. Chest-thumping lines but they aren’t delivered loudly, just floating over the cinematographic production. The beat sounds like Superman emerging from brick rubble, unhurt while his opponent suffers in the background. Tena Tempo is speaking some real gospel, all in the frank wisdom that comes with Pidgin English. This is a very solid opener. Way to go, Lyre.


A switch in perspective. This is your bubbly track two, the typical deviation from the opener’s intricate melancholy. These strings are swinging bright, with the dominant Calypso feel merged into Afro sensibilities, evident through the percussive bounce. Really strong production, the delivery is as well potent. Tim Lyre is now singing in a conventional afro pop style but this record began with a Caribbean flavour, somewhere between Yung L’s ‘Yaadman Kingsize’ and Tomi Thomas’ “Shaken.” This first pair of songs has been quite unique offerings. I’m quite amped to hear what follows.


Man, Tim Lyre is such a talented creative. Nothing prepared me for what I’m hearing right now. How’s this production so clean? Don’t know what to classify this sound but there’s so much soul in this; the drums are almost rock-like. Behind, there’s a punchy guitar squeezing so much melancholy into this. Lyre’s vocals are perfect as well, evoking the frustrated mien of a disillusioned lover as it oscillates between various meters of flow. I hear it now: the squeals and the intriguing feel of destruction—there’s an element of emo-rock here. I kinda hate I’m hearing these records with my critical ears turned up. Would be perfect to just chill in the background as they play; would surely be returning to this one.


The Trap flow returns; these are some bars many will describe as “deep.” For sure, the allusions to mythology are sounding intriguing (I’ll have to revisit) but the flow, my, the flow is just ethereal. The flow is a presidential flag billowing over silvery clouds on Independence Day, millions of people marveling at its greenery. What’s this title even pronounced as? There’s a romantic interest in the song’s center, for sure. DAP The Contract just entered, keeping his verse brief. “Thankful for what I see, cos perfection was achieved” is such a lyric, man. Sweet song. No skips, all bops on this project so far.


Head-bopping production. The percussions are muted, setting a quite laid-back atmosphere. “Every memory is precious,” sings Lyre on the hook, before seamlessly stepping into the verse, adopting a less zesty variation of the Dancehall flow on “Present.” Lex Amor’s talk-rapping is brief but efficient, her striking vocals infusing a distinct flavour. “No time for no discussion, know me ah fit give you concussion” sounds like a Burna lyric, but Tim Lyre makes a good case why you shouldn’t speak on his name.


I’m having so much fun with these records, damn. You don’t know what to expect on the next song and still they manage to lift you onto a soundscape that’s unlike anything out there. That said, “General” is the boppiest of all bops. My head’s spinning right now, the smell of weed wafting in my nose. The vocals throughout this album haven’t wavered in strength. This should make every stoner’s playlist. MOJO is usually bouncy but this isn’t really his kind of bounce; if anything he gets a pass for coming through with the attitude. In all, it’s a good song. Doesn’t match up with the best in the album but that’s fine. Also, is it just me or is there a Jesse Jagz influence in some of these records?


The title of this one steered my mind in a particular direction but Tim Lyre has other plans. If anything, this started like a rap song. When the “where you been dey, when I been dey find money” line drops you immediately change into a white suit and become Kanayo O. Kanayo in 2006. The intricate Highlife guitars are now present, but Lyre’s singing is all over the place. Prettyboy D-O is doing a better job, really short verse though. DONLI! She’s shredding this beat; her vocals are so beautiful on Highlife production. FYI, Enjoy Your Life still bangs. Tim Lyre is back with Zlatan-style adlibbing, bringing the song to its close with some singing in Yoruba. Enjoyable song, but the arrangement could have used better spacing.


No excuses, this one’s going straight for the dancefloor. At the first drop of the beat, I knew it already sounded like a sexy woman making artful whines as her braids swing from side to side. There’s not much being said but as one musician says, the vibe is right. Riding the beat, the voices stay cohesive and interplay off each other’s tones. If Sean Paul made a record with a Nigerian alternative artist, it’d sound close to this.


This is the last song on the album. “If you really need me all the time, then I never would decline” is the first line from Tim that sticks, and as the song progresses the intent is bare: it’s a lover’s complaint. I’m peeping that “Spanish Lime” here is a metaphor, but would it be extra to Google what the fruit tastes like? The production is ambiguous, leaving you to ponder if this is a happy or sad situation. I’m tilting towards the latter, because Lyre’s vocals are nothing if not drenched of love. Considering the fun direction of the previous songs, the vibe here is deviant and somehow takes away from the overall progression. Individually, it’s a brilliant song, a fine manipulation of space and melody.


Tim Lyre is a really accomplished artist and it speaks to his inept creativity that he’s able to condense such versatility into a cohesive whole, even as most songs sparkle for their individual brilliance. On ‘Worry <,’ his producer sensibilities seem to be at the fore, especially with the seamless integration of his collaborators and making sure their brilliance shone through.

In a post-digital age, a lot can be done with a computer, and artists can literally create together from different ends of the world. Still, there’s no replacing the intimacies of creating within the same room which can affect a feeling of closeness on the produced music. Tim Lyre’s album echoes of that energy, mostly maintaining a positive outlook in line with the ‘Worry Less’ title. With Tim revealing in interviews that the project has been in the making since 2018, it is testament to the songs’ evergreen nature that they’re here and banging, four years later. What an achievement.

Stream ‘Worry <‘ below.

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