With ”Red Velvet”, Waje produces an album that offers endless minutes of eargasm and well thought out concepts.
It was on the 2008 hit single ‘Do Me’ by PSquare that we first heard that golden voice that stunned with the same vigour with which it provided healing.
Then she made us wait five years before the release of her debut album, ”W.A.J.E” in 2013 and despite blessing us with an offering that words were truly not enough to fully express, we have had to wait for another five years for her follow up project.
It has taken so long, but in an industry where a full body of work from a female artist comes in its ones compared to that of the male counterpart which drops in 10s, this is one project long overdue but also heartily welcomed.
Just before pressing the play button, my fears with the album was to which Waje I will be listening to, the RnB queen whose vocals are near unmatchable and one who puts a lot into her songwriting and message or the one who is flirting with the Reggae sound a bit more frequently and even teamed up with Timaya on one of her recent efforts, ‘Kpolongo.’ [which surprisingly but befittingly doesn’t make it to the album?]
A lot of the songs on ”Red Velvet” seems personal and honest, with Waje relying on romance, relationships and overcoming heartbreak to tell her story.
The soft drums on the opening track, ‘The Truth’ eases you into the album, as her voice comes to life. Waje is singing adult music, the perfect breakup anthem, the ‘it-is-me-and-not-you’ soundtrack, the type you pen after long moments of thought as she finally gets bold enough to tell her interest that ”she is not in love with him”.
There’s a raw honesty to her heartbreak and Waje is sending down the chills very early on and we still have nine tracks to go.
The album packs a pretty lean guest list as only two artists get featured and Adekunle Gold is the one who steps up quite early on ‘Why.’ Right after turning back on love, Waje seems to have found the right person this time as she goes in search of her baby.
Now it’s the turn of the man to push her love away as Adekunle Gold kills this with his verse. While the first track captures unrequited love, this is more conflicting, a complicated situationship.
The album begins to pick pace on ‘Stupid’ as she fights back, seeking for clarity this time, putting her vocals to ranging heights on this record. ‘UDUE’ featuring Johnny Drille offers a sensual balance with charming pop sound spiked by the sweetness of its African back-up chants and alluring beats. Johnny Drille’s addition is a masterstroke.
‘Oh My’ tells a tale of her journey in search of love and why she is sure this is the one relationship that needs to be made official.
Halfway through the album and love has been flipped through different stages and at this point, there was a need for something to switch and Waje fully obliges, breaking the cycle with the conscious ‘Soldier’, totally stripped back to share the wise words she gained from her mother.
Waje’s serene yet strong vocals beguile the listener on ‘Cam Dan’ while ‘Be Mine’ makes for the tape’s radio single with its Afrotropical feel.
The album comes full circle with ‘Got Sauce’ and ‘Got Ya Back’. The former will have you doing the salsa over an up-tempo beat while the latter is a relaxed offering where the singer expresses her unending support and faith in the friendship she finds herself.
“Red Velvet” features Waje at her best in recent times, with a vocal performance that shows why she is placed at the forefront of the pack of female singers.
Over soft and striking synths, she offers emotions, concept music, story-telling and compelling narratives. Despite working around familiar themes, Waje does well to expand them in interesting directions – Unrequited love, heartbreak, fight for love, friendship and then love in its fullest form.
For the new age lovers of the RnB genre, who have been fed with a large dose of pop sounds as their favourites seek commercial success, Waje is not entirely sparking a revival of pure RnB music, but it would be hard pressed to find a present album more reflective and compelling of the tenets of the genre’s golden age.
2017 saw strong female projects from the likes of Simi and Niniola and it is gladdening to see Waje deliver a sophomore project that reworks itself as a glorious musical piece.
Coming quite late in the year, ”Red Velvet” makes a convincing push into what list of best albums that 2018 offered. Effortless in its delivery, bright in its messages and a brilliantly crafted artistic statement just when you almost gave up on albums mattering much in the music industry.
3-Worth Checking Out