Essentials: Bella Shmurda’s ‘High Tension’

A soulful representation of the reality on the street

Bella Shmurda is a product of the same ghetto lifestyle that floated the trendy Marlian fandom. It was no surprise that his breakout song, “Vision 2020” featured collaborations with ID Cabasa and Olamide, pioneers of the street-hop sound that dominates the streets of Lagos.

Though the lead single already established Bella Shmurda’s penchant for detailing the gritty street life, his new ‘High Tension’ project is even more immersive as he embedded a whole bundle of Yoruba folk traditions and references that give the 7-track EP an air of lived-in familiarity. On the melancholic opening track, “Ginger Me”, his descriptive lyrics paint a picture of his sad reality over a mournful beat that evokes spiritual elements in his soulful traditional melodies.

He doubled down on the spiritual theme for the second track, “Omnipotent”, where he expressed gratitude for protection from the evils in his life. It’s a similar sentiment to what D’banj captured on “Mobolowowon” and it introduced listeners to a more pleasant side of Bella Shmurda’s street life. The next track, “Liquor” is a romantic number fit to be a wedding dance number with the live band vibe of the backing vocals and instrumentals ID Cabasa produced.

The excitement on ‘High Tension’ doesn’t start to build till the 4th track, “Sho Mo Mi”, a boastful song with a romantic narrative. His confidence in the slow-burning charm of his indigenous Yoruba folk melodies allows him the freedom to hurl everything at listeners with manic intensity on the closing track, “Upgrade”. “Upgrade” highlights Bella Shmurda’s uncanny ability to walk the thin line between good and evil. His charming lyrics unveil the song as a tribute to a love interest, but as the subtextual context of his finessing lifestyle becomes apparent, the song morphs into a heartbreaking kissoff to an ex; “Eni to ba mo mi tele, mo ti lo”. The whole thing is dreamy and lovely, with a horn-driven instrumental that feels that make the song listen like a victory anthem.

High Tension’ opens the door to a more appealing street-hop universe—a reminder that hope can be found even in the darkest places. Bella Shmurda’s inquiry into his street life exhumes depression with an offhand tone as he shields his trauma with a brave face. He leaves listeners with a soulful representation of his harsh reality.

Stream Bella Shmurda’s ‘High Tension’ below.

Featured Image Credits: Instagram/bella_shmurda
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You are meeting Debola at a strange time in his life. He wandered into a dream and lost his way back. Tweet at him @debola_abimbolu

ICYMI: Watch the music video for Bella Shmurda and Olamide’s “Vision 2020”