Best New Music: Lady Donli Celebrates Her Brilliance on “My Ability”
Best New Music: Lady Donli Celebrates Her Brilliance on “My Ability”

Best New Music: Lady Donli Celebrates Her Brilliance on “My Ability”

The alté needle-mover is in ultra-confident mode ahead of 'Pan-African Rockstar'

In the canon of Nigeria’s Alté music scene, Lady Donli is a respected figure. Since marking her official debut in the 2010s, including the SoundCloud-era epochs Wallflower’ and ‘Letters to Her’, she has stuck to the fundamentals of her craft: mixing diverse sonics with her multicultural experiences to create an authentic, assured sound. In 2019, Lady Donli turned heads with her debut album, ‘Enjoy Your Life’, a refreshing showcase of genre-blending and scaled ambitions, combining colourful, nostalgic yet forward-facing grooves with a poised attitude towards living out her dreams, both big and frivolous.

As she gears toward the release of her sophomore LP ‘Pan-African Rockstar’, Lady Donli unveils the thumping “My Ability.” In 2021, she released the six-track EP ‘W I L D,’ which saw her exhibit both moody vulnerabilities and sassy confidence. She began 2022 with “Thunderstorm in Surulere” and also performed it on A Colors Show, then following with the singles “Soft Life” and “Hello Lady.” Those songs follow different trails of emotions that beam light on Lady Donli’s desires, concerns and aspirations.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Lady Donli (@ladydonli)

On “My Ability,” Lady Donli sneers at her detractors who dare contest her creativity and skill. “You question my ability/I’m a young woman with agility/Ayh/The best that you’ll ever see/But you question my ability (for why),” she sings. Although there’s a playfulness to the way she manoeuvres the lyrics, it doesn’t hide the seriousness behind the words. She weaves her way through the track with oomph, attacking JMS’staccato-like production with deft flows.

After Lady Donli teased the release of “My Ability,” certain sections of her audience expressed their indifference to the song, whilst also alluding that the track was testament to a what is perceived as a decline of Alté music. Unmoved by the murmurings, Lady Donli responded, saying, “My music has not evolved to anything that it wasn’t already. I love rock, I love bashment, pop, jungle, R&B and amo do everything !” In a way, “My Ability” is Lady Donli’s ready-made response to listeners who say her music doesn’t resonate with them: she doesn’t need anyone’s validation to be herself.

Immediately “My Ability” begins, the production’s blend of percussions and drums rouses one’s body to move. Long-time collaborator JMS continues his great chemistry with Lady Donli, curating the buoyant mood with a thick, groovy percussive pattern, lustrous guitar riffs and rumbling bass guitar, a musical alchemy that Lady Donli handles with sizzling swagger, and her usually siren voice is retooled to carry a punchy infectiousness. In the Buhari Yesufu-directed music video, Lady Donli and her crew of women embody the fun and swagger of the song, with smooth dance moves and suave demeanours. 

You think say/Me I no go wound you/If you come around me/With bad energy,” she sings, telling everyone that there’s a sharper part of her that doesn’t stomach disrespect. Afterwards, she adds that she just “Want to live my life/With love and dignity.” For Lady Donli, the freedom and choice to explore her creativity to the fullest extent is her ultimate goal. “My Ability” is a reminder to herself and the audience that nobody deserves less than being the best and should hold on to that belief—regardless of whatever the world thinks.