When she raps, she doesn’t sound grimy and hard. Instead, she sounds like a more refined version of British rap legend, MIA. From the first listen, this writer thought she was destined for greatness, but what to market her as – in terms of branding – has always been his biggest worry. Bella 2.0: Lucid Dreaming was so good, it championed that versatility better than Bella: The EP before it.
But it also continued that worry of the brand that fits her. Versatility is never a problem, but it can be when an artist needs a brand. Whatever you market such a versatile artist as, it will feel like you’re boxing them. Then, Bella signed to Tinny Entertainment and ‘Radio’ dropped. Opinions were split, but I thought it was a dope song – I jammed it for months.
It was later that I realized that the music wasn’t the problem, it was the brand and how the label marketed her. The ‘pop princess’ overcoat she donned was a departure from what her SoundCloud fans liked. It was also too risque and ‘bougie’ for the new audience. It didn’t work, but Late Vibrations EP, her collaborative work with YCee was beautiful.
Then the label issues started and she left Tinny. A few months later, she released ‘Aiya‘ and another EP, Re-Bella. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t resonate with that niche audience she amassed on SoundCloud in 2016. The talent has never been the problem with Bella. It was always about how to present and sell it to an audience and make money off it.
Summer’s Over is Bella’s third project in just 20 months. It is like an R&B diary of love, sex and relationship(s) that took place over a short period of time. Whether they’re real or not is what this writer cannot ascertain.
Its first track, ‘Don’t Trust Geminis‘ features the talented ‘Chineke Meh‘ crooner, Ezi Emela. It is a break-up song that intertwines with astrology. ‘Fire’ is a conversational R&B song that Bella uses to reciprocate her desire for a lover who proclaims his thirst with his chest. ‘Summer’s Over’ is a song with which Bella reminisces a love affair.
Ajebutter replies Bella’s nostalgia by telling her to move on. LADIPOE also joins the reminiscing with his tales about fears of vulnerability. His verse could also fit into the male perspective of Bella’s clamour. ‘Kolombi‘ features Mr. Eazi and it’s another song that documents desires. The beat is a mix of Caribbean arrangements and Ghanaian percussion – best song so far.
Dice Ailes assists ‘Isiewu’ and this song would have been better if the beat were faster. ‘Hallelu (Tout Le Monde)’ is R&B with an alte twist. The song is an appreciation of a particular guy to whom Bella is addicted. If a man is half that good, then it’s understandable. T’Neeya sounds like GoodGirl LA. ‘4 AM‘ follows the same trend of love songs.
‘Follow Me‘ is then followed by two remixes of the single, ‘Agbani.’
If Bella wants to slowly garner a niche fanbase, this EP is good. But if she wants to become a pop star who has good lyrics and substance, she needs to make her production less minimalist and more catchy and appealing.
Lyrically, this EP is good. Some people might want more variety than the focus of love, but if love is what she feels comfortable making, then it’s fine. Forcing an artist to make music in another way than he/she is comfortable with could place a hex on artistry and some never recover. However, as good as substance is for an EP, she needs to find a sound with a potential to attract a wider audience.
Features are meant to either amplify or strategically position music or an artist. On this EP, one questions why some features made this EP. That said, the ‘French leaning’ feels strategic.
What’s next for Bella only Bella can decide. The good thing is that she has all the time in the world. She still gives beats exactly what they need. The question is; are the beats what Bella needs? Only time will tell. The brand needs work, but she’s another step away from where she was. Three projects in 20 months will always be a positive.
On the brand side, I’d personally love to see Bella’s next EP be R&B as on Late Night Vibrations with a sprinkle of unique commercial songs. Those commercial songs could take the form of ‘Run Me Dry‘ by Bryson Tiller or ‘Smile’ by DJ Snake.
5.9/10 – Average.