Our First Impressions Of Darkoo’s Debut EP ‘2 In 1’
Darkoo continues to spin Afropop gold
Darkoo continues to spin Afropop gold
It’s hard not to root for Nigerian-born, London-raised artist, Darkoo. Since breaking out two years ago with the One-Acen assisted “Gangsta”, the singer has continued to hone every part of her artistry, fashioning herself into a pop star worthy of international acclaim.
Her eclectic takes on Afropop and Afro-Swing have positioned her as one of the most exciting acts to watch out for. Nearly every subsequent release since 2019 has only served to further endear her to her growing fanbase–and she’s done it all while staying true to herself.
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Over the weekend, the London-based singer released her debut EP ‘2 in 1’, her most vocal representation of her gender non-conforming ways. Since bursting on the scene, she’s always slipped between both personas in an industry where female pop stars are expected to look, dress and present themselves in a certain way.
In Darkoo’s world, she’s free to live on her own terms. Here, she’s continued to live as she pleases, raising a middle finger to archaic rules and nurturing an unmistakable identity as a “woman who can do both”. When we last spoke to the singer, she shared that she has always played both personas. In her NATIVE Exclusive earlier this year, she admitted, “I’m not even trying to push anything I would say, but just to show that I’m comfortable with both sides of me and I can be what I wanna be when I wanna be it.”
On ‘2 in 1’, she certainly puts that versatility on full display delivery a 7-track course of Afro-fusion numbers that find the singer musing about topics such as life, love, sex, money, success and more. Darkoo herself also shared the EP is a culmination of 7 songs from different times during her journey since 2019 and sure enough, there seems to be a song for every listener to add to their playlists.
So, what’s the project’s best song? Biggest skip? Most surprising moment? The girls on the NATIVE team have got you sorted as we deliver what we think are the standouts from Darkoo’s debut EP ‘2 in 1’. Enjoy.
Wonu: “Slow down” featuring Tion Wayne definitely has to be my favourite. On first listen, I figured this was going to be one of my favorites and funny enough it is actually my Top 2. I find it very interesting how both artists blend so perfectly on this particular track. Also, it’s such a catchy tune, it sticks on first listen. Close second to this would be “Interlude” featuring Gabzy. Yes, it’s an interlude but the melodious delivery from both artists did it for me and of course, there’s the Gabzy bias too lol. He can really do no wrong in my eyes.
Ada: After listening to this project I have to say that I have 3 favourite songs which are; OTI BERE, SHE LIKE and DRUNK TEXTING. Since I am to pick the best I’d say DRUNK TEXTING for sure.
Woju: From Drake’s “The Motion” to Santi’s “Settle Down” or Tiwa Savage’s “Celia’s Song” album closers are known to be reflective, deep numbers that meditate on the journeys traversed over the album, both in terms of the music and the road to release. Darkoo’s “Come Up” is no different. Including an arresting sample amplified by a drill slide, the beat for “Come Up” is undoubtedly the hottest on the EP, and elevates the song to the top of the album. In her bag, as she raps about her “Come Up,” Darkoo is joined by Unknown T, so perfect a fit for this beat I wouldn’t be surprised it if was actually made for him. It’s such a sweet album closer, I’m not even mad that Darkoo enters into gibberish-land on the chorus, and I typically can’t stand nonsensical lyrics.
Tami: Honestly, I can’t really see myself skipping anything on here. This is solely because it’s a fairly short project with a 20 minute run time. I think that once you start listening to one song, you don’t even realise when you’ve burnt through the other songs in quick succession. Also, it helps that the album is a mixture of Darkoo going at it alone and her bouncing her energy off her collaborators. Maybe, I’m being too nice but it’s not bad at all.
Wonu: The biggest skip for me off tape has to be “Oti Bere”. This didn’t really seem like a great way to start the EP to me. It didn’t necessarily give off what to expect on the tape and I would have expected a different song to go first just so listeners kind of know what exactly the tape is supposed to give off and It’s also my least favourite song. A great song, very catchy and easy to vibe to but still my least favourite because well, it’s a sweet tape.
Ada: OH! That’s easy. Definitely Bianco on “She Like”. The voice was quite distinct and you always wanna be remembered when you come on a feature and I believe he definitely did that.
Woju: Teaming up with some of the UK’s most talked-about emerging rappers, Darkoo’s ‘2 in 1’ EP is stiff with competition for the best guest verse. Where Unknown T is at home on “Come Up”, Gabzy is fully given the reigns and handles them nicely on the “Interlude”. The two standout tracks on the project so far are “She Like” and “Slow Down” featuring Blanco and Tion Wayne, respectively. On these songs, the guest’s acts are neck and neck, toe to toe, so tight in the race that I couldn’t pick a favourite.
Wonu: It definitely was “Come Up” ft Unknown T for me. The angle in which both artists took this was insane. The delivery was everything and I was very impressed but then again, I wasn’t expecting anything less. All in all, It was an amazing body of work. Very short and interesting listen, I’d certainly rate this a strong 8.
Damilola: I guess I wasn’t expecting “Oti Bere” as an intro when I pressed play. It was a very strong way to begin the project and it got my attention immediately with that chord solo and drum roll. The refrain is probably the best part for me, when she samples Wizkid & Maleek Berry’s “Back To The Matter” – it feels almost like there are two people on the song the way she controls her delivery and pitch of her voice. I was also really pleasantly surprised by Tion Wayne’s verse, on “Slow Down”, he was rapping rapping and I enjoyed the change of pace.
Ada: I think ‘2 in 1’ is familiar, Afro-pop, and melodious. These words are what I totally felt when first listening to the album. The project had a very familiar sound and relatable lyrics which in a way felt done before. It followed a certain pattern that brought back a lot of deja-vu moments which isn’t entirely bad because I enjoyed it too. I believed the aim was to produce melodious tracks and I can say she definitely nailed it. Even the raps were quite smooth and melodious. I’m also a big fan of the album art. LOVE IT!
Tami: After a few listens, I’ll give ‘2 in 1’ a 4-star overall. I really enjoyed the fact that the project was short and digestible in just 20 minutes. I also really enjoyed hearing Darkoo in different lights and showcasing both her London and Nigerian on each track. It definitely shows Darkoo’s growth as an artist since 2019 and shows why she deserves to remain in your frequent rotation. Her music is light, never takes itself too seriously and is familiar all at the same time. I especially loved the project opener “Oti Bere” which set the pace for the rest of the EP. Also, Wizkid’s influence is incredible.
Woju: Overall, I dig it. Pretty much every song is a good one on ‘2 in 1’; from the seductive sax on “Drunk Texting” (which, I LOVE the name), to the crazy Wizkid sample on “Oti Bere” where she sounds identical to Starboy. The singles, “She Like” and “Pick Up” still remain strong, signifying a clear consistency in Darkoo’s craft. In terms of production, much of the project feels like it lacks originality – the beats are good, but it’s nothing we haven’t heard before. Lyrically though, Darkoo excels. Witty with it, Darkoo comes out with some epic burns in her bars, for example, “so when you fucking him, I hop you say my name/So when he leaves you, I hope you feel my pain,” on the single, “Pick Up.” Darkoo’s is not my kind of music, so I won’t necessarily return to the project, but ‘2 in 1’ was a thoroughly enjoyable listen and I am looking forward to hearing all these records outside.
[Featured image credits: Instagram/Darkoo]
Written by Ada Nwakor, Adewojumi Aderemi, Damilola Animashaun, Tami Makinde, and Wonu Osikoya