Our first impressions of Prettyboy D-O’s debut LP, ‘Love is War’

D-O has had it all along and it’s only getting clearer to him

In the final quarter of 2018, Prettyboy D-O released his debut album, Everything Pretty’, to critical acclaim. The year before, he captured ears with “Peter Piper,” the fun and lascivious single that effectively set the ball rolling on his career. Subsequent singles, “Footwork,” “Itty Bitty” and “Chop Elbow,” drew more people into his expansive musical approach and distinct identity, showcasing D-O as an artist who embodied both frivolous and socially conscious expression with the same level of conviction. It also helped that his blend of dancehall and rap cadences instantly sounded unique coming from him.

’Everything Pretty crystallised all of D-O’s tendencies, as well as an unyielding ethos, into an emphatic debut album. The music not only matched the antics that made him seem riotous, it enhanced that persona. These days, D-O’s artistic bonafides are undoubtable. His voice, which can shapeshift from guttural to pleasantly absurd, his genre-mashing style of music, and his zany fashion choices have afforded him a unique lane in the Afropop zeitgeist. Last year’s ’Wildfire’ built on the convincing display of its predecessor, subtly expanding the boundaries of D-O’s musical identity and reinforcing how much of an unrelenting force he is.

As he’s been teasing all year long, D-O has finally released his debut album, ‘Love is War’. He’s been clearing out space for the new LP with the release of “Living in Bondage,” “Police n Teef” and, more recently, the IAMDDB-assisted “Falling.” Considering his reputation from previous projects, expectations for the new D-O album are sky high. After our first listens, here’s the first impressions of ’Love is War’ by members of The NATIVE team.


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Best Song?

Wonu: Honourable mention for me would be “Police n Teef,” I feel like the song isn’t as big as it should be but then again it’s a banger.

Ada: Well this is a tough one, I wasn’t able to firmly pick a song as a favourite but a few songs do stand out for me: “Rodman Style,” “Kumbaye” and “Lord protect my steppings.”

Rahman: I don’t have a best song, but it’s between 3 songs: “Like me,” “Lord protect my steppings” and “Broke Boys FC,” it’s really hard to pick one song because the album is quite good.

Biggest surprise?

Moore: The biggest surprise for me was definitely the opener, “1996.” The guitar riff at the beginning is very unusual for a Nigerian song, the ending rant against the police was also unexpected and powerful.

Nwanneamaka: The biggest surprise was definitely “Like Me.” D-O really got Davido out here singing and harmonising. I loved it and I think it’s the perfect cut from a stellar project.

Best Verse?

Rahman: Pa Salieu and Mojo had great verses. It almost felt like I was in the studio while they were recording their verses. They had the best 2 verses on the tape.

Wonu: Mojo did really well on “Broke Boys FC,” I think he had the best verse on the album.

Biggest skip?

Dennis: Right now, the closest thing I have to a skip is “If They Send You,” which is odd because posturing D-O is my favourite D-O. It just doesn’t have the instant oomph of the other unruly, self-assured tracks I’ve heard from him, but I think it will grow on me with more listens.

Ada: This is a tough one but since I have to choose I’d say it’s the “If They Send You” track. The song wasn’t bad but as I kept listening to it I got a bit bored.

Overall first impression

Nwanneamaka: While I was a casual D-O listener, I began anticipating the album when he released “Living In Bondage” and “Falling” with IAMDDB. Listening to Love Is War, it surpassed my expectations, I’m not going to lie. I think his sound has really evolved from what it was on his debut, Everything Pretty, and I’m really liking this. On a first listen, “Hanky Panky” really stood out to me. Its groovy, rhythmic beat is guaranteed to get you in a good mood just like the rest of the project.

Dennis: Prettyboy D-O hasn’t surprised me since his debut album, and I mean that in the best way. Love is War might be his best project yet, that’s a bold remark based on one listen but it should hold up because it doubles down on everything that makes D-O, well, D-O: searing lyricism, colourfully brash beat selection, experimental flows, inventive melodic range and just D-O being generally convincing. The main difference between this album and his previous project is authority; he’s always moved with conviction, many times having to bruise his way towards making you believe it, but this time he’s just innately commanding. It’s in the way he rails against Nigeria’s socio-economic stagnancy on “1996,” the self-eulogising on “Rodman Style,” going blow-for-blow with Pa Salieu on “Lord Protect My Steppings,” and his unyielding sense of self on standard album closer, “Trust Issues.” I’m not surprised because D-O has had it all along, it’s only getting clearer to him—and probably to us.

Listen to Love is War here.