4 Takeaways from Johnny Drille’s Debut Album ‘Before We Fall Asleep’

His debut album is finally here

Nigerian singer/songwriter John Ighodaro, popularly known as Johnny Drille like a lot of his peers in the industry began their career off in a church, playing instruments and singing for the choir. After appearing on a popular talent show, Project Fame West Africa in 2013, his career began its build-up, despite the singer not emerging as his season’s winner. It was clear that a star was born.

Shortly after, in 2015, he performed a cover of Di’Ja’s “Awww” and caught the attention of Mavins head honcho, Don Jazzy who later penned a record deal with the talented sweet-voiced singer. In the same year, Johnny Drille also snagged a Best Alternative Song nomination at the Headies for his debut single “Wait For Me”. His accolades have only continued to grow over the years, recognising his hard work and determination to carve a lane for himself in the music industry. This year, he has maintained a steady pace of single releases from “Start All Over” featuring fellow Project Fame contestant and Queen of AfroHouse, Niniola to the Simi-assisted “Halleluya.”

For his debut album, ‘Before We Fall Asleep’, Johnny has revealed yet another layer to his budding artistry. Here. he delivers his distinctively sonorous vocals over 14-tracks with stellar production to deliver an ace R&B showcase with an Afropop twist. He features a spate of talented collaborators including fellow Mavins starlet Ayra Starr to our song of the summer favourite, Ladipoe and the nostalgia-inducing boy group, Styl-Plus. It is evident that Johnny put his all into the project. The singer also shared a heartfelt message via Instagram stating: “I’ve waited forever to be able to share this piece of me with you and I’m ready. A part of me is hoping that you are but the other knows that you’re not ready for what’s coming. This is going to be THE album, OUR album. I promise you that”. Unquestionably for a debut album, this project is bound to make lasting impressions on its listeners.


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Below are my four takeaways while listening to this project:

Johnny is all about love!

If we’re being honest, any long-time listeners of Johnny Drille know that the man never shies away from the topics pertaining to love and affection. It’s been that way since his debut single “Wait For Me” where he expresses his love and commitment to a love interest, beckoning on her to wait patiently for his return. In ‘Before We Fall Asleep’, Johnny carries on this same trope, delivering more love numbers from the melodious slow tempo album intro “MY KIND OF BROWN” where he reminds his muse that she is all that and she shouldn’t let anyone tell her others, to the pre-released promotional track “Loving is Harder” produced by Wilson Muzic.

However, he doesn’t shy away from political issues

The album is evidently laced with romantic cuts but it is also nice to see the singer discuss issues of political and socio-cultural relevance to the Nigerian community. On the EP, he widens the depth of his lyrics, talking about the unfulfilled promises of our political leaders and the state of our economy on the number titled “LIES (To Whom It May Concern)”. To assist his stellar performance, baritone voice monologues were included in the beginning and towards the end of the track, as well as surprising rock/heavy metal vocal and instrumentals. This tailored perfectly to the message of rage and frustration all Nigerians feel towards the state of the country at the moment.

A true beatsmith

To no surprise at all, Johnny is not only a master at vocals but also at production. The majority of producer credits on the project are attributed to him. As we hear in the stellar tracks on the project, each song was meticulously crafted from the lyrics down to its beat and vibe of the song. Each track provided a new listening experience with instrumentals that were weaved seamlessly alongside the lyrics and message. From “Ludo”, “Ova” and “Driving In the rain” to “Sell My Soul”, “BEFORE I LET GO” and “Clocks”, all were single-handedly produced by Johnny. When he does get help from some talented beatmsiths, he pulls from a wide selection of hitmakers including Burssbrain on the infectious “Lost In The Rhythm” and London for “In The Light”

It’s all about Mavins!

Being signed to one of Africa’s biggest musical conglomerates has to come with its perks. ‘Before We Fall Asleep’ also featured not only our favourite celestial being, Ayra Starr but also the talent hunter and CEO for Mavins Records, Don Jazzy. “Ova” is a mid-tempo number with Johnny singing over a rhythmic beat to a love interesting as he begs her for a second chance. Don Jazzy comes in towards the end of the track delivering sagely words fitting for someone with years of his experience. It’s clear that when one artist at Mavins succeeds, they all seem to get carried along.

Featured Image Credits/ Instagram.

Nwanneamaka couples her creative interests with her individuality and uses writing as a vessel for her expression.

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