If there’s one factor that Ayra Starr desires you to find out about her, it’s that she has all the time been forward of the pack. “I’m the queen, bow down,” she instructions on ‘Bridgertn’, a punchy R&B quantity that thrives off beats as filthy because the record-smashing Netflix collection that it’s named after. The remainder of the Beninese-Nigerian singer-songwriter’s debut album ‘19 & Harmful’ hinges on this unshakable confidence, stuffed with vivid, bolshy kiss-offs to the haters, questioning how you can be somebody they’ll envy for eternity: “Should you hate your enemies/Enemies shine”, she sings with a wink on latest single ‘Bloody Samaritan’.
However Starr has each bloody proper to brag: at 17, Instagram covers of hits from artists like Andra Day and 2Face Idibia caught the eye of Don Jazzy, the boss of Nigeria’s influential Mavin Data, with whom she later signed. Following the discharge of her self-titled debut EP in January, the now 19-year-old has since been pivotal to the more and more world affect of afro-pop, amassing over 25 million streams and topping the charts in her residence nation. Tight and warranted, ‘19 & Harmful’ is a well timed reminder that Starr is the cultural phenomenon who she’s all the time informed us she was, at the same time as she grapples with the stress of rising up within the public eye.
When the album opens with the celebratory ‘Forged’, it feels exultant, like a confetti cannon bursting into life. “I do know my blessings no go move me by/Trigger I’m gonna dwell my life”, she proudly affirms over mild percussive cuts on the pre-chorus. The ten tracks that comply with are diverse – slinky and upbeat, party-ready, or throbbing with emotion – with the intention of exploring each aspect of life as a teenage celebrity.
‘Poisonous’ jumps into Starr’s new circumstances and tackles the darker aspect of fame with direct lyricism. She spells out her trauma merely: “Why did you give me the medicine/Why did you drive me to take it?”. It’s a strong second that brings out Starr’s delicate, socially aware inside, one thing that’s highlighted once more later when she commits to laying down her feelings by Yoruba vernacular on ‘Underwater’, a spacey, bass-assisted meditation on melancholy.
There’s an actual attract to Starr’s world of magic, willpower, and confidence, which she explores and inhabits as ‘19 & Harmful’ progresses. The surging and euphoric ‘Trend Killa’ showcases it greatest, with lyrics that channel the power of an enormous night time out over a joyous, strobe-lit beat. The observe exemplifies how the energy of Starr’s self-belief is the album’s true high quality: balancing a delicate form of pop with proud, flawless bravado.
- Launch date: August 6
- Document label: Mavin Data
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