Efe Oraka is a storyteller and world-builder. In the opening moments of her debut EP ‘Magic’, she wastes no time in setting the scene for what’s to come. Singing beautifully over vibrant chords and strings, the Abuja-based singer/songwriter chants, “happiness is never automatic/God bless the magic.” Her words, simple as they may be, are a key clue to the singer’s thematic preoccupations across the 7-track EP, which chronicles and explores the gritty sides to stories of love, growth, and self-worth.
Employing the help of some amazing artists and collaborators such as M.I, Tay Iwar, DOZ, and Sir Bastien, Efe Oraka embarks on a journey to convey her experiences as a Gen Z woman in today’s world. Each lyric and anecdote she shares is instantly relatable, at one moment pondering on lighter issues such as her lack of self-control with munchies on “Comfort Food”, and at another moment revelling in the magic of a new crush on “Wonderland”.
“I wanted to create something I could always go back to – something that perfectly documented my thoughts, feelings, and everything really, that I, at the time, alluded to making me ME.”
View this post on Instagram
There is no aspect of the Gen Z experience that is left out of the world she created on this project, and it’s deliberately done to capture the singer’s growing pains. When she was just 17, Efe Oraka began working on what would become her debut EP. Although it would take her three more years to confidently share the musical offering, she soon realised it had morphed into a love letter to the many phases she’s had to shed along her journey. Speaking with the NATIVE a few months after its release, the singer/songwriter admits that the project became a way to not just articulate her own pain and growth, but to emphasise with listeners who she was certain would use it to navigate their own experiences.
The songs on ‘Magic’ are said to “immortalise [her] growth” and as such it is caught at the intersections of different types of experiences of a young African woman. Here, listeners see romantic inclinations held side by side with a deep passion and reverence for God. On the M.I Abaga-assisted “Zion”, Efe sends a cry out to God as she questions her faith and her place in the universe. Her voice is heavy and pained, as she sings “I’m tired of trying/Oh Zion o why are you lying,” instantly bringing back memories of my own struggles with faith. M.I’s introspective verse elevates the “Zion” into an apt soundscape for moody musings on a Sunday afternoon.
Her songs are set against airy, ethereal backdrops, and coupled with her delicate, soothing voice, she weaves her own world where she unfurls the complexities of the past. The magical metaphors with titles such as “Wonderland” conjure images of a sonic escape from our present reality. Tay Iwar adds his enchanting allure to “Love Galatic”, making it an instantly pleasurable listening experience, soft and stripped back to match the tenor of both their voices. “You are Mars and I am Venus/So Much Distance In Between Us,” Efe sings warmly, examining a lover that is putting up communication blocks. It bleeds into the project closer “Dive”, a reflective number that finds Efe advising a younger version of herself. “You got to sink or swim to stay alive so when you reach your ocean baby go ahead and dive,” she sings on the song’s hook, advising herself and listeners alike to face their fears head-on. You move as the lyrics are repeated, building towards the vivid guitar solo that bookends the song. Efe Oraka sees her past flaws clearly and comforts listeners to be less hard on themselves.
Ultimately, ‘Magic’ is a finely crafted story told through very distinct lenses. Efe Oraka asks listeners to look deep within for their inner child and get comfortable with vulnerability. It’s a divinely contoured body of work that finds its sweet spot in fashioning poignant and intimate coming of age stories about love, faith, and purpose.
Stream ‘Magic’ below.
Featured image credits/Efe Oraka