Home Album Reviews ALBUM REVIEW: “WORK OF ART” BY ASAKE

ALBUM REVIEW: “WORK OF ART” BY ASAKE

by 234 Homeboy

Asake released his sophomore album ‘Work Of Art’ on June 15, 2023, his second album in 10 months as he sustains the impetus that has made him the top Afrobeats artist.

His last album reached the Daily Top 100 in 60 countries worldwide, including 26 where they reached the top 10. Songs off the album also reached Number One in 14 countries worldwide. Mr. Money with the Vibe scored a debut on the UK Albums Chart entering at number 22.

Identity is insufficient to meet listeners’ expectations of Asake. They demand adrenaline. the kind of music that accompanied his extraordinary climb and has kept him moving forward to release his third project in 18 months. His mainstream career began in 2020, when his “Lady” freestyle went viral, catching the attention of industry heavyweights. That same year, he launched the smash song “Mr. Money,” and he cemented his debut by winning two of the three City People Music Awards for which he was nominated. The year 2022 catapulted his career into the stratosphere. Following his signing to Olamide’s YBNL Records label, he released his debut EP, Ololade, which was driven to the public by “Sungba” and its eventual Burna Boy-assisted remix.

‘Work Of Art’ should be recognized as one of the year’s best releases, even though it is every bit the exploding, chest-thumping, genre-fusing Asake that audiences have come to love. “Olorun,” a beautiful atmospheric opener, sets the record off to a wonderful start. Weepy strings and haunting choir voices support the somber keys. Over a symphonic-gospel soundtrack, a choir opens with the lyrics “Emi ko, Olorun ma ni” (“It is not me, but God”) before Asake joins in to strongly emphasize the role the Creator has played in his journey and celebrate the strength of faith. As delicate saxophones and piercing guitars fill the space with transient accents, the song powerfully details surrender to God and His intentions. As the song winds down, a softly murmured log drum beat enters the fray, setting the tone for a meditative inventive voyage through Asake’s personal experiences.

“Awodi,” an exuberant song with surprisingly deep and profound lyrics, builds on the powerful beginning. He reminds us of this saying on “Awodi,” citing his own rags-to-riches story as an example. Asake touches on the lifestyle that popularity has now given him in various passages of Work of Art. Strong melodic singing and quick wordplay are used to convey these ideas over a very light instrumental comprised of minimal percussion, tempered wood drums, and incredibly soft electric keyboards.

The stunning introduction is capped off by “2:30,” which begins with rattling shakers and open percussion over a soft synth chord line. The song has an almost future air thanks to the effects-heavy log percussion, which are grounded by the droning strings. With absurdly agile delivery, Asake rides the extremely rhythmic beat, varying his timing, tone, and intensity as the beat demands.

On the warm, captivating “Sunshine,” he instills optimism with the line, “Sun’s gon’ shine on everything you do,” which he plagiarized from the 1995 song “Ocean Drive” by the U.K. duo Lighthouse Family and delivered with conviction and a slight flanger effect. him.m“Sunshine” is an uplifting motivational track, preaching the rewards of hard work and efficient hustling. “Chop knuckle if you’re a part of the struggle, no way, the Sun’s gon’ shine on everything you do,”. It has a strong melodic core, building on a common basic chord progression with signature group vocals and instrumental solos in the background.

“Mogbe” is a playful confession of love and an acceptance of all the things that could come with it. The rattling shakers and evenly distributed drums are propped up by a lively log-drum bassline and energy-infusing synthetic whistles. Asake’s expert use of group vocals is a significant strength on this song as he picks the right moments for harmonies, call-and-response, or simply ad-libs, all the voices intermarrying to create a very compelling tune.

On other points, there are hints of braggadocio, particularly in “Basquiat,” where he describes himself as “walking poetry” and “a work of art.” But anything he sings feels global because of his call-and-response, chant-like delivery, and contagious charisma. Instrumentally, “Basquiat” reintroduces the Asake formula, with delicate Amapiano synths, barely audible keys, and background soloing instruments. Asake is at his best in this song; his vocals are clear enough to follow, and his delivery is uncannily fluid, switching from long sung passes to the quickfire rhyming sections for which he is becoming known.

“Amapiano” introduces an entirely new side of Asake, with him almost rapping with a new swagger and composure over the undeniably peppy instrumentals. Olamide adds a new voice and musical viewpoint to this rhythm, which also appears to be outside of the “Asake-Beats” wheelhouse, making me wonder whether Asake could have used a few more featured artists to offer their own take on the surroundings.

Wistful violins lend seriousness to “What’s Up My G,” and when amapiano’s distinctive log-drum loop delivers a light pace, he shifts vocal rhythms and inflections with ease. His rapid delivery implies that his wealth is multifaceted. When he lists pricey labels and luxurious autos, the chorus of voices behind him portrays his boasting as a spiritual act.

“Great Guy” turns amapiano’s flagellating bass synths into pure, rumbling texture, and the author is clearly satisfied. When Great Guy takes over, the artist explores his personal virtues—consistency, boldness, talent, and a well-rounded personality—albeit in a lighthearted manner.

Asake discusses his need for greater money in “Lonely At The Top”. While currently enjoying celebrity, the artist suggests that the road to success is often lonely and requires some discipline. He talks about the distrust that comes with fame, and in his quintessential nature. While I Believe reinforces his faith in a wonderful life. In Introduction, Asake takes on the persona of a guy who tries to impress a lady. The romantic aura is passed on to the next track  Remember. 

Perhaps there could not have been a better way to conclude this album than with the spiritually inclined Yoga. Here Asake forfeits Amapiano for Séga, a genre associated with Mauritius and Réunion Island.  While he embraces this new but short-lived rhythmic adventure, the singer throws shade at his enemies and meditates over his existence. The song’s intro samples Mo Capitaine by  Mauritian singer Michel Legris. “Yoga” closes the album on a peaceful Folk-adjacent excursion that breaks up the album’s aural monotony. As traditional percussions rattle away, supported by that same backup sax as before, the song speaks of safeguarding our tranquility and maintaining our lanes. Closer inspection reveals that “Yoga” converts traditional séga—music developed by enslaved Africans in Réunion and Mauritius—into a modern call to peace. He addresses individualism in the song by claiming the freedom to live and let live.

Although Asake’s confidence on this album may come across as cocky, it is genuine. He releases a new album, preceded by unreleased singles, while his competitors are releasing deluxes. He exalts himself above everyone else and brags about how lonely it is at the top. He is aware that he cannot be checked. Whatever way we want to look at it, that is superpower.
With “Work Of Art,” Asake has cashed in on his star power, and it will undoubtedly do what it is intended to do: solidify his status as a superstar through a successful sophomore album that will unavoidably provide him the upward momentum to aim for more.

Ratings: /10

  • 0-1.9: Flop
  • 2.0-3.9: Near fall
  • 4.0-5.9: Average
  • 6.0-7.9: Superstar
  • 8.0-10: Legend

234HB Rating: /10
Album Sequencing: 1/2
Songwriting, Themes, and Delivery: 1/2
Production: 1.5/2
Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 2/2
Execution: 1.5/2
Total: 7.0 – Superstar

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