Unruly by OLAMIDE – Album Review


Everyone likes it when an OG drops some new music, and Unruly, veteran Nigerian rapper Olamide’s 10th studio album, is something any would find hard to dislike. I am not particularly an Olamide listener. Whenever he drifts into rapping in Yoruba, I often check out mentally—I do not understand a word of the language. But it is easy to stay within the tunes and witness the experience in the production quality he brings to his music.

The entire community knew that YBNL’s top boss had an album in the works, but there needed to be more PR about it. Perhaps Olamide stepped back so his protege, Asake, could grasp the fullness of the limelight he earned last year. A few days before this album dropped, Asake had performed to an overflowing O2 Arena with 20,000+ people hanging on to his every huff and puff. This is a feather on Olamide’s cap, as YBNL is the label standing behind Asake’s meteoric rise to fame.

So when Unruly opens with a chill track titled Celebrate where Olamide..well…celebrates. It is a satisfying way to begin an album like this. Celebrate has all of the makings of a jam for nightlife in the Nigerian scene. It is a jam you would like to kick back to with your favorite drink, surrounded by your favourite people. It is a very soothing song, made better than the incredible saxophone performance.

The creative direction stays the same for the following four songs, too. They are all shades of what Olamide wants to do when he enters the club. He is not about to launch into a thesis about the state of the country. No, none of that! When you come to Unruly, you are here to vibe and have a good time.

So, the instrumentals are much grander. The riffs are a lot more creative, and the music feels gentler. There is still some of the classic chaos that we know and love Olamide for, but it is limited to a few lines as he shares the spotlight with backup choirs—a distinct feature we notice in productions from his side of the music industry.

The five features on this project are all solid, but I could not shake the feeling that everyone on this album had to work within the creative direction that Olamide had given. I heard a BNXN that did not sound like BNXN and a restrained Rema. CKay was, of course, the standout feature in the album as he delivered a solid vocal performance in Trumpet. I attribute this to the idea that he may have had something to do with mixing the track as a producer.

The end of Unruly leaves a listener with an ‘Is-that-it?’ feeling. We are left wanting more. There is a sense that Olamide decided to warm up his vocals with this album. After all, he has nothing to prove to anyone. The album feels like who he is and what he has become now. He’s just an OG out on the streets trying to enjoy the time he has left. Unruly is something to vibe to. The central themes of the album include Celebration, partying, and enjoyment.

And that is all it has to be.

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