Our First Impressions Of Asake’s Debut Album ‘Mr Money With The Vibe’

Asake widens the potency of his arsenal

This year has been a hell of a thrill for Asake. In January, his Olamide-assisted single “Omo Ope” blew up. The following month, he sealed a deal with Olamide’s YBNL, ultimately stepping away from the shadows of underground notoriety and into the limelight afforded by an established record label. While Asake was no newcomer—considering the success of his 2020 single “Mr Money”— there was no doubt that the move to a label known for producing superstars was an upgrade in his career.

Asake instantly repaid the faith shown in him with a superb debut EP. ‘Ololade Asake’ caught the attention of music lovers, with “Sungba,” spearheading the singer’s ride to the mainstream. The singles that followed—the Burna Boy-featuring “Sungba” remix, “PALAZZO,” “Peace Be Unto You (PBUY),” and most recently “Terminator”—have catapulted Asake into major music conversations. His Afrobeats/Amapiano-influenced music and Fuji-inflected lyrics have won him the admiration and loyalty of fans worldwide.

Initially slated for release last week, Asake’s debut album ‘Mr. Money With The Vibe’ arrives with a weight of expectations. The 12-track project is the culmination of Asake’s incredible run and one of the hopes it bears is to seal the artist’s place in Nigerian music folklore. Will it?

The NATIVE’s editorial staff dives into ‘Mr. Money With The Vibe’ and, as usual, offer our first impressions.

Best Song?

Wonu: I don’t think I can pick a favourite yet but for now, I think I’m hooked on “Organise.” The message on the record is clear and I think Asake did that with most of the songs on this album. I personally think this will be a favourite for a lot of people. Close second will be “Sunmomi,” because Magicsticks is ridiculously talented. I can’t believe how talented he is. All round, the project is amazing but these are some of my favourites.

Emmanuel: No doubt this is a hard selection because ‘Mr Money’ has very good records. There’s something to be said about confidence, and here Asake touches many themes—from street tales to hedonist craze–with his signature energy. My favourite however leans strongly on “Reason.” It’s a song which captures the ethos of Asake while merging beautifully with Russ’ as one of the most interesting independent artists in the world. His lyrics are bouncy and crisp, confirming Asake’s status as a stylist par excellence.

Moore: While most of the tracks on this album are similarly pleasant, the best song on the album has to be “Dupe.” The song opens with an energising beat that’s to be expected from an Asake song, before a mix of instruments and vocalisations are introduced, giving the song an old school spiritual quality. These qualities make the song have an engrossing listening experience.

Best Production?

Dennis: Oh, that’s easy. It’s “Peace Be Unto You (PBUY)”, which remains the perfect song in Asake’s catalogue, even though this album is chock full of great pop songs. For two-thirds of the project, Asake and Magicsticks continue their Amapiano-fuelled excursions, but everything about “PBUY” is extra special, in the sense that it’s the one that makes his Fuji affiliations shine through. Listen to that log base, hear that violin riff when the percussions briefly drop out, deep those whistle sounds, and tell me that you can hear anyone else but Asake on this song. (Side bar: Shout-out to Felo Le Tee and Myztro for “66”, and Mellow and Sleazy for their entire catalogue. If you know, you know.)

Cynthia: I have to admit it’s hard to say which track is the Best Produced single in the album. Although two songs Stand out for me if I have to pick, I’ll say “Organise” and “Joha.” “Organise” carries this sizzling Afrobeats sound with a message that is common and relatable, while “Joha” has this party Banger vibe to it that one can’t resist but nod to, at the very least. The Amapiano beat does not disappoint but makes this track stand out.

Uzoma: I feel it is a tie between “John” and “Sunmomi.” What I love most about the production on “Joha” are the drums. The Amapiano log drums and the bass drums complement themselves so well. Coupled with Asake’s singing, it feels like a bubbly Fuji party. On “Sunmomi,” the violin is put to excellent use; it underscores every bass and synth of the beat. You have no choice but to dance.

Tami: It’s hard to single out a favourite in terms of production quality because Magicsticks over delivered on ‘Mr Money With The Vibe.’  However, if I was to choose a current favourite, it would be “Sunmomi” and “Organise,” two very distinct numbers which are fast proving to be early favourites by listeners. The violins on “Sunmomi” are otherworldly and resplendent, bouncing around the Fuji-inflected production with an irresistible force. Honestly, Magicsticks and Asake are a match made in heaven and I’m impressed to see how they’ve stuck together since his “Mr Money” days. Talk about full circle.

Favourite verse?

Damilola: No song can ever top “Sungba (Remix)” because of how catchy the beat is. But asides the beat, Asake and Burna boy carried the song so well to the point that I can never imagine any other artist jumping on that song and killing it as well as they did. My favourite verse will forever be Asake’s first verse on “Sungba (Remix)” because of how well he was able to complement the beat. Although the lyricism aspect of the verse isn’t so strong, it’s still a very catchy verse and a very good way to start a song. I couldn’t have imagined the song starting any other way.

Daniel: My favourite verse is from the chorus on the intro of the album “Dull.” The intro is a really special song, leaning into his orchestral style chorus and he speaks to the universe to grant him opportunities promising to make the best of them. I found this really interesting as it seems to be the theme to his fast rise in the past year, taking advantage of sharp attention “Omo Ope” gave him and never dropping the ball ever since.

Maria: My favourite verse is the second verse from “Ototo.” The song in its entirety makes me very happy that I understand Yoruba (a little bit at least). On that verse he says, “Olowo laye mo, Mr. General se jeje/ If you no get you go see pepper/Ko Oluwa jo fire soro mi/I go get money e too sure for me,” asking that God blesses his affairs while affirmatively declaring that he’ll be rich. The song is hopeful and encourages everyone to get to the bag, forge ahead on their own path and not compare their successes and the timings of them to anybody else’s. On the track’s run of about three minutes, Asake is deeply grounded in his faith and aspirations for his future and I love that.

Biggest potential hit?

Uzoma: “Joha” wins it for me. It is a fun song that sizzles with boisterous energy. It has the markings of earlier Asake favourites—crowd vocals, infectious beat and Asake’s untainted confidence. Asake does not want any wahala and that sentiment translates into the track. “Joha” will get the crowd at parties and shows hyped up and ecstatic.

Emmanuel: Knowing Asake, every song will probably become a hit. LOL, just kidding. But for real though, while this album has shades of autobiographical detail, every element of its crafting screams banger. Asides the pre-album singles, “Sunmomi” sounds like the most obvious hit, with heavy Amapiano percussions swirling around Asake’s always-refreshing singing. You should however keep your eyes on “Dupe”–that’s a hit song waiting to blow, and I can see it becoming big towards Detty December. Might not come true, but predict things with your chest, kids.

Wonu: Well, the album is a modern day classic and every single song can be a potential hit so I can’t really say but I think “Organise” is easily up there. The production is melodious, the record is also very catchy, this might just be Asake’s next hit but I’m sure the charts will surely tell soon enough.

Tami: Is it to early to call this a classic? I think every track on his debut album has the potential to boost Asake’s high profile career to even greater heights. It’s clear that from his “Mr Money” and “Yan Yan” days, Asake has grown into a true marvel, operating with the pulsing cadence and irresistible charisma as the artists he counted as his compatriots early in his career. For now, I think I’ll go with “Nzaza” as one of the biggest potential bangers, it has all the elements of an Asake classic accompanied with the grass to grace leanings of the streets which raised him, and many others.

Biggest Skips?

Cynthia: Listening to the album for the third time, every track is a vibe that can’t be skipped. Each single has its own unique touch to the album making it a successful album. Oddly no skips for me in the album.

Damilola: For me, there are no skips at all, Asake is phenomenal! It’s amazing to see someone start the year with great songs and still holding up towards the end of the year. He’s such a great musician and knows his sound so well.

Overall first impression

Moore: Every song on ‘Mr. Money With the Vibe’ is as catchy as one would expect from Asake. The project has a spiritual quality that is evident from the opening track and is best utilised in Dupe. The consistency of the tracks however may not always be the best if the listener is looking for some variety, as some songs almost blend into each other. For those looking for a project that feels quintessentially ‘Asake,’ with his distinct sound already well established, this project makes a reliable listening experience.

Daniel: ‘Ololade Mr Money’ is here to stay! ‘Mr Money with the Vibe’ puts a stamp on the undoubtable talent that is Asake. The album gives off the vibe of absolute confidence and belief in his style. I enjoyed every song! Wild!

Emmanuel: What can we say about Asake? The man’s a walking testament of timing. Everything he’s done this year has been leading up to this moment and boy, he didn’t disappoint. Deliberation is a crucial element of popular music but YBNL and Empire seems to have supported Asake’s outlier tendencies—his prolific nature hasn’t dented the prospects of a quality album, and he deserves every flower he’s getting. After a number of listens, I think it’s an understatement to call this a good album—it’s a moment captured in percussion-driven sound. A tightly-curated project that will, in time, define what 2022 sounded like.

Dennis: Short version: Classic, book it. Long version: ‘Mr. Money with the Vibe’ is a no frills masterpiece, a project that’s all purpose and zero fillers. The moments of arrogance are wholesome, the moments of aspiration are affecting, the overall exuberance that powers the album is infectious, and the execution is glorious.

Featured image credits/NATIVE