Essentials: Gems Abound on The Sarz Academy’s ‘Memories That Last Forever 2’
Essentials: Gems Abound on The Sarz Academy’s ‘Memories That Last Forever 2’

Essentials: Gems Abound on The Sarz Academy’s ‘Memories That Last Forever 2’

A worthy manifesto from the oncoming stars of Afropop

Sarz is to Afrobeats what Stan Lee is to superhero movies. He’s not the only dominant figure, but far from his own individuality his greatness reflects on the entire trajectory of the movement, right from when he was a teenager producing beats in an era ruled by the likes of ID Cabasa and OJB Jezreel.

Over the years, the Benin-born superstar has become a monolithic figure in his own right, amassing genre-crossing hits and introducing transcendental creators like Lojay and Obongjayar, while he nurtures The Sarz Academy on the other. In recent years, The Sarz Academy has been the prime marker of his influence in afrobeats. A program started in 2015 to develop emerging producers, names like Tempoe, Dunnie and P Priime have come through its ranks to become veritable figures in the African pop music scene.


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The Sarz Academy has also lead investors to offer Sarz more wiggle room to impress his magic on other aspects of the industry. So far that has included songwriters and musicians, all of which culminates beautifully on the just-released ‘Memories That Last Forever 2’. Ominous, film-esque notes begin “Breathe,” the first song of the 15-track album. “I was left to fly at a very young age,” says our narrator, sounding somewhat like Travis in Scorcese’s ‘Taxi Driver’.

Produced by Blueszn, the beat purposefully folds itself into the zesty deliveries of the artist Perfext, whose inflection oscillates between singing and rapping. It’s a positive record, lifting the veil about what it means to be a rising artist. With choral singing on the backend, the opener stirs one’s senses into the mood to expect. “Resemble” is quite different, however. More drums and bounce, much to the credit of producer Bombocat and artist Fxrtune, who depicts the seductive motions of a lady. 

‘Memories That Live Forever’, for the most part, is a breezy listen. Ever the grandmaster, Sarz seems to advise the youngsters not to limit themselves sonically. As a result, the songs are bit-sized pieces of amorphous musicality; most frequently, they draw from stateside influences, sounding like something you’d hear on a southern American radio station on a cool afternoon. Charmaine LA reflects this influence in name, even though on “233” the lyric “the devil works hard, but my God works harder” has a Nigerian ring to it, the stuff of Pentecostal mothers and early morning prayers. 

Thematically, the songs are unified by the effervescent feeling of reaching a breakthrough in one’s life. Quite understandably, considering who Sarz is and the volume of his precedents. “Good To Me” is an early favourite from the project; pairing dense amapiano log drums and bright choir vocals, the producers Twitchpapiii and Bombocat emerge on a sound that established artists would be all over. With well-minted verses, it’s a record which truly holds up the collaborative ethos of the project. 

Gimba’s showing on “Only Man,” meanwhile, is one of the most realised visions of the pop star, blending Omah Lay-esque sexual metaphors into the vibrant percussive soundscape of Oddwave. He’s again present on “Steady”, on similar subject, but joined by the svelte embrace of Charmaine LA, who completes the duet in a most intriguing fashion. Production-wise, the duo of Oddwave and Twitchpapiii create one of my favourite beats on the project, lining its seams with fluttery progressions. 

Charmaine LA and Syntiat are some of the most audible voices in the project, turning femme energy on its head to create evocative verses every time they’re on. While the former does seem to be more rounded in her approach, the latter’s more realised as a singer. This comes across on “Rude”, where she gets one of the few solo songs on ‘MTLF 2’. Packing emotional honesty, the record starts with “I’m drunk and I’m texting my ex” and throughout the song, she unfurls lyrics with the unabashed energy of the truly drunk, but here she’s drunk in sound, at times sounding the most R&B you ever heard, the next adopting a spritzy Dancehall-inflected flow. 


It’s testament to the project’s quality that gems abound everywhere. Even with its relatively extensive runtime, the experience never wanes. Ten songs in and the listener still wants more and “Ready” offers just that. Taking a cue from Sarz’s own infusions of eighties-influenced psychedelic sound, it’s one of the best beats on the tape, with a chorus that sounds like a classic already. PJ Star introduces himself beautifully here, while Fxrtune does his thing as he’s done already throughout the project.

 “Sad Love” is the stuff of Drake and Bryson Tiller, with soft 808s from Chibooplaythebeat meeting the serenade of Syntiat and Millymay. It continues the missing-my-ex narrative from “Rude” but the male collaborator stretches its focus considerably. Milly’s vocal texture is especially exciting, Western-lined but with those subtle Nigerian flourishes that’s most evident in the “But I too like money money” part of the hook.

Fortunately, ‘MTLF2’ does what every good project of this scope should do; retain a cohesive core while exploring variant sounds. The Drill-saluting “DPWMH” perfectly encapsulates that, the soulful voices of Millimay and PJ Star establishing the rules of their heart. Its boppy quality could make for a TikTok hit—-I can hear it. “More” returns to the afropop core of the project, with Perfext interpolating a number of the genre’s recent smash hits; it’s a lead single kind of song, though all the songs on here possess their own inimitable quality.

There’s hardly a part out of shape here. Every song works to amplify the next, every producer works to bring out the best of the artists. It’s one of the better compilation tapes I’ve heard in recent times, from the soundscape of Afropop or anywhere else. Sarz aka Stan Lee has assembled the Avengers and these acts are muscularly gracious in how well they’ve executed their mission. There’s a lot of artists we’ll be keeping tabs on here, but there’s no doubt you’ll find even more in the process of discovering yours.

Stream ‘Memories That Last Forever 2’ below.