In just shy of a decade since its formation, Mavin Records – the record label imprint run by head honcho Don Jazzy – has been churning out Afropop stars by the second. From Tiwa Savage, to Wande Coal, Ladipoe, Rema and more, the star-studded hallways of the Mavin HQ have been graced by some of the most audacious musicians dominating the West African music scene at the moment, and it seems that this is a mantle that they won’t be letting up anytime soon.
Announced late last night, Mavin Records has welcomed a new female artist into their glamorous roster of stars. 18-year-old Ayra Starr is the latest emerging female singer to catch the attention of the Afropop powerhouses in these parts, joining previously signed artists such as Liya of DMW and Tori Kechee of Marlins Music. Born and raised between Lagos and Cotonou, music has always been the centre of this teen star’s universe and now she’s ready to share it with the world.
Ready to hit the ground running (the devil works hard but Don Jazzy works harder), the news of Ayra Starr’s signing comes alongside the release of the emerging singer’s self-titled EP. The 5-track project sees Ayra effortlessly showcase her powerful, soulful vocals and her diverse musical influences, running through a myriad of sonic influences from Afro-Pop, to R&B, Trap and Alternative. Ayra deftly weaves Yoruba and English into her lyrics, excelling at singing about the intricacies of romantic relationships, a feat she handles with maturity far above her years.
Here, on her debut project romantic love is a deserted battlefield loaded with emotional land mines. The EP’s lead single and opening track, “Away”, is a mid-tempo and rhythmic anti-love anthem on which Ayra sings in pained lilting vocals about finding the strength to move on from an undeserving lover. “Take away your trouble and leave me be” she chants on the song’s hook, a clear and concise message that shows this emerging singing is endlessly ready to speak her mind. For a debut project intro, Ayra wastes no time in showing that she’s strong-minded and unwilling to compromise her boundaries for anyone.
Speaking on the track, Ayra said:
“I freestyled half of “Away” at a time I was feeling down. It was like therapy. Singing the song out loud was like freeing myself from my burden. “Away” is not just a heartbreak song, it’s a song that empowers you to stand up to that thing or person that is causing you sadness.”
The rest of the project finds Arya Starr creating beautiful, emotionally layered and honest tracks. The uptempo “Ija” is a bouncy, fun number where the singer address a lover who’s always running through her mind. On “DITR” Ayra gets real about the use of vices and how they can serve as a coping mechanism for the stresses of the world. Her songwriting is couched in relatability as she sings ,“Nothing has changed please, she’s only ageing/peer pressure bad ni,” putting words to what we wish we could say to our parents as we get older.
“Sare” is the most experimental number on the project, with its brassy anthemic beat and its instantly memorable chorus. Ayra’s deep undertaking of her psyche results in music that’s equal parts enjoyable and reflective. The vulnerability in her music creates something that sonically feels like a late-night conversation with your homegirls – familiar and new all at the same time. This is an artist who has a lot more to say. Love and the pursuit of happiness drive this project, and it’s clear that Mavin has a budding star on their hands, one who’s gathering inspiration from the world around her and delivering evocative coming-of-age stories. We can’t wait to see how she continues to develop next.
Stream ‘Arya Starr’ below.
.@tamimak_ Is a Staff Writer at The NATIVE