Essentials: Gambian Trio, Nobles Debut Album ‘Joy’ Is Full Of Positivity & Zest for Life
The trio are here for the good vibes
The trio are here for the good vibes
In 2013, T-Berry (Alieu Colley), Aya (Salieu Mballow) and Pablo (Abdallah Badjan) struck a friendship and decided to become a music group. Before then, they had been chasing careers as solo artists. Starting with the stage name Streethustlers, they made covers of the songs of the Senegalese-Gambian group Kerr Gi Family and Nigerian artists P-Square and Wizkid. As their recognition grew in their home country of Gambia, they felt a need to rebrand and chose the name Nobles. Last year, they released the EP ‘Bukanom (For the Culture),’ which was meant to promote the diverse ethnic groups and cultures in the Gambia.
On their debut album ‘JOY,’ the Money Empire-signed trio collates musical influences from their home country as well as influences from Sub-Saharan Africa. They began recording the album in 2018, moving between Nigeria, Senegal and Gambia, enlisting assistance from Nigerian music producers Phantom, STG and Teekay Witty, and other African music producers UcheMadeIt, JLive Music and Shyboy. The project features guest appearances from Gambian artistes ST da Gambian Dream and Miss Jobizz, Senegalese artists Wally Seck and Rich Waneh, and Nigerian artist Zlatan.
Over the entire project, the producers serve Nobles a collection of beats that push out the best performances from the group. It is a credit to Nobles’ versatility that they slot themselves into the different soundscapes while adding their flavours. Throughout ‘JOY,’ Aya is charged with delivering syrupy hooks and choruses. On the opening track “My Love for Money,” Aya’s vocals are irresistible as he and his co-members declare their affection for riches. “Never switch on nobody/No, no way/I want the money and the power/In the right way,” Aya sings.
Nobles reaffirm their love for money on the upbeat “Dontoroo” featuring Miss Jobizz; they and Miss Jobizz advise their debtors to pay them what they are owed and not try their patience. “Pay me my money/And stop acting so funny,” Miss Jobizz sings. On “Cherry,” Nobles and Wally B. Seck air their feelings for their romantic feelings as they ask, “Would you be my wife/And let me love you?” JLive Music’s production on “Jomuja” leaps with an urgency that Nobles mirrors as they use their verses to convince their lovers to commit to them.
On “Commando,” Zlatan brings the Naija spice with his trademark ad-libs. He and Nobles tell their love interests that they will “Fight for your love like Commando.” In his verse, while acknowledging the song’s theme of romance, Zlatan shares in Nobles’ love for money when he inquires, “Promoter, you must pay me my dough/Where’s my dough?” JLive Music’s horn-driven production on “Kiki” a standout hit song. Nobles and ST Da Gambian Dream regale the eponymous Kiki with admiration.
In an interview with Nobles, My Gambia reveals that T. Berry is “the money man of the team…responsible for the accounting and the money aspect,” Aya “brings in the melody to the music and gets people on their feet to dance to their music,” and Pablo is “the calm guy in the team.” On the Teekay Witty-produced “Yetereh Allah,” Nobles acknowledge the Almighty for the success in their careers. STG’s robust Amapiano-laced drums direct Nobles and Rich Waneh to the dancefloor on the aptly titled “Party.”
“Afro Mami” praises the beauty of the African woman and Jlive Music makes his variation of the Mbalax genre, providing a heady mix of Drill-like synths, horns and drums. The pace is slower on “Ko Mbudi” as Aya sings, “Me wan know I dey for your mind, baby.” The romantic sentiments remain on “My Way” but the tempo is heightened. On the song, Nobles call on their lovers to trust their devotion and follow their lead.
“We want to share our life experiences, but we also want to convey a message of unity within Gambian music through this album, and we want this album to put our music and culture on the map,” the group reveals. With their album that exhibits cross-cultural influences, Nobles are positioning themselves and their country, whose population stands at fewer than three million, as one of the places to watch out for in the growth of African music.
“We believe this record can add to the elevation of African music, which is currently evolving worldwide, and we want Gambians to be known more for our sacred culture, lovely traditions and immense capacities as this album showcases, instead of notorious governmental issues, and we hope our album ‘JOY’ can begin to change the narrative for the better.”
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