Essentials: Hermez seals his status as Nigerian on new album, “Garden Spirits”

Hermez describes ‘Garden Spirits’ as a utopia for people to enjoy life and live freely.

The Nigerian born, but Atlanta-based artist who goes by the alias ‘Hermez’ has just released his sophomore project, with features from very familiar and popular young names in music like Psycho YP, Lojay and Dami Oniru, the afro/r&b project is an admirable offering just before the end of the year. Toyosi Sanni wants every soulful music lover to listen to his new album ‘Garden Spirits’

Packed with cross-cultural references, ‘Garden Spirits’ is a 17-track project packed with something for just about everyone. R&b isn’t as popular in these parts, with many musical acts leaning towards the mainstream afropop tropes we’ve grown accustomed to, however, the likes of chigratt, Adaeze Obiagu, Preye, and now Hermez are changing the norm and making r&b a viable genre in Nigeria.

The opening track “Slowly” is clearly inspired by popular Nigerian music, with the drum-led beat produced by Pheelz offering an exciting introduction to the artist. ‘Dance like the Holy Spirit chose you’ he sings, instructing the listeners on exactly how he would like the song to be enjoyed.

He certainly leaves cause to wonder how much time he spends in Nigeria, as he constantly slips the name of the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit into his lyrics, clearly with the aim to appeal to us and show us that he’s one of us.

On “Lagos Babe”, he wishes to make love to his girl like the Holy Ghost. Anyone who grew up in Nigeria will remember familiar superstitious tales of spiritual sex, and the inclusion cannot be merely coincidental. Hermez is endearing himself to a Nigerian audience by leaving an almost easter egg-like trail of cultural references that are sure to resonate with his hometown audience.

The Psycho YP-assisted “Wait for Me” is one of the more stellar inclusions in the project, where the Abuja-based rapper is almost at home, oozing the familiar confidence we have come to expect from him. On this track, we get to discover more of Hermez’ range which also extends to rapping.

Hermez describes ‘Garden Spirits’ as a utopia for people to enjoy life and live freely. This theme of freedom runs through the whole album, particularly on “New Feels” where he entertains thoughts of being as free as a dove. ’Anything to keep my mind off that thing’ he sings, hedonism is the order of the day on this track and Hermez is unwilling to let lost love hurt him further.

On “Temporary Love” Hermez recounts how fleeting feelings can be, ‘she tryna get this cash, left all the feels for her last nigga’ he sings morosely with words drenched with regret for how he did everything for someone who didn’t see past the material gain. The opening of “Sxx stories” is something out of a Bryson Tiller record, offering velvety smooth vocals and focusing on the endless pleasures of sexual interactions.

“Low Low” with Lojay is one of the album’s pre-released singles, an up-tempo track which sounds closer to home, owing to Lojay’s vernacular-filled hook. “She wan use Hennesy block my liver” he sings, instantly drawing on the alcohol brand that has become the subject of many songs because of its prevalence in nightlife.

The closing track “Just Like You” features a smooth inclusion from Dami Oniru, who he thinks is one of the best artists in our generation owing to her penmanship. Both artists sing about matching the energy of their love interests, which involves playing ‘the game’ on them just like they have been played and hurt.

At the end of the album, we’re left wanting to delve further into Hermez’ world. ‘Garden Spirits’ is greatly enjoyable and truly a coming-of-age project for Hermez as an artist.

Stream ‘Garden Spirits’ below.

Featured image credits: Instagram/everythinghermez

Tami is a lover of astrology, music and women. Tweet your fave female artistes at her @tamimak_

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