Artiste:- Darey Art-Alade
Record Label:- Livespot Entertainment
Distributed By:- I-Tunes and Online media outlets
Guest Appearances:- Olamide, Asa & The Soweto Gospel Choir
Producers:- Oscar Heman-Ackah, VTek And Cobhams Asuquo
Release Date:- 13th October 2015
When I saw pictures of an unclad Darey Art-Alade on the internet, the first thing that occurred to me is “What the hell is this”, however as somebody who has followed Dareys career since It’s inception, I know that he is not an artiste who is prone to outlandish promotional tactics or gimmicky behaviour, hence I was convinced that there was a deeper underlying meaning to that picture and some days after, he delivered his 4th studio album ( if you count double albums as 2 projects, then he has 5 in total ) aptly titled Naked, his first body of work in 4 years which followed 2011’s double disc Double Dare as well as UnDAREYted and From Me To You which were both dropped in 2009 and 2006 respectively.
The theme of the album as encapsulated with the nude promo picture was to bare his innermost feelings to his fans and to do it in an up close, honest and personal fashion, a mission which began with the first song on the album Asiko Laye which was produced by Vtek Da Awesome and borrowed from the traditional Afrobeat sound espoused by the late Fela Kuti, it’s an uptempo Afro-funk song that was handled and delivered with professional precision by Mr Art-Alade. Up next is the urban highlife song Orekelewa, a romantic composition for the grown and sexy which was dictated by the a combination of lush guitar strings, sequenced African drums and a sprinkle of Dareys smooth Yoruba vocals which he used to serenade the woman of his dreams ( his wife ). The song has a heavy throwback highlife feel, but was given a contemporary edge by the arrangement and production which worked just fine and I daresay a lot of lovers/couples are going to celebrate weddings and anniversaries with this as a soundtrack. The album makes a smooth transition to You’re Beautiful which also leaned towards highlife music, but this time, he sings in English Language and celebrates Women all across the world in an encouraging and uplifting fashion. One of my favourite Darey songs is the emotional ballad Not The Girl and I feel like he tapped into that spirit on the next song Love You Die, which is not by any means a ballad, but an R&B song reminiscent of Ginuwine over a Timbaland production. Darey makes a case for himself as one of the best Nigerian vocalists on this one which I think deserves a video as soon as possible.
If he wasn’t trying to channel Not The Girl on the previous song, he definitely made no pretenses about it on Lie To You, a sullen emotional ballad driven by haunting piano keys which take the mood on the album from a love-filled one to a darker place as he once again bared his heart on the song, this is perhaps one of the most honest songs on the album and suits the theme like a glove. The mood gets even darker on the previously released Pray For Me which features the Grammy award winning Soweto Gospel Choir, on which he sings about that point in life where every father and son disconnect when the latter decides to make that transition from a boy, thereby taking his life into his own hands, facing life head on and eventually emerging triumphant. It’s a heart-rending performance by Darey over a very soulful record and also one of his most “Naked” moments on the album. The celebration of love returns on the next song Aya Mi, a smooth Afro-pop song which I really like and continues the listening process to a remix of the opening song Asiko Laye which featured Olamide who added a Street edge to the song with an impressive rap verse.
Darey then takes us down memory lane on the next song Delilah which sampled the late great Bobby Bensons classic Taxi Driver and had him doing his best impression of the 60’s-70’s highlife artistes.The song bridges the gap between two great eras in Nigerian music and is one that will be just as enjoyable to older listeners as it is educative to the younger ones. A rare collaboration with Asa takes place on the next song, a duet titled Inside Of You, on which they both fused their vocals together to conjure a memorable experience for the listeners. He recounts the tale of a love lost on Want You Back, expressing his regret and hurt in letting go of someone so special with a lovely tailored hook delivered in Yoruba Language while he delivered a message of encouragement, resilience and optimism on I Go Make Am a song which was aided by the back up singers ( whom I feel are Simi and Adekunle Gold ). Champion, the last song on the album is a fitting epilogue that closes the album on a triumphant, reassuring and victorious note.
While this is not exactly his best album ( I’ll say UnDAREYted is but that’s my choice ), I daresay it is his most personal and unpretentious. Naked is a culmination of Dareys musical scope, influences, ideas, genres and experiences in the music business. It is a body of work that will not only stand the test of time, but will give his fans a personal glimpse into his life. Darey has always been one of the most dedicated, non compromising and least gimmicky acts in Nigerian urban music, traits which have been clearly visible throughout the course of his career and are once again shown on this album. I find no flaws on the album and I have to mention Oscar-Heman Ackah whom I think made a statement with this album on the production department delivering a very impressive resume over the course of the 11 songs he produced. This is definitely one of the better projects released this year, and if you ever want a no holds barred, personal and honest encounter with any artiste through his music, Naked is one project you should be listening to.
Best Verse:- Pray For Me 1st verse
Standout Track:- The Whole Album is a Standout LP
Musical Moment:- Soweto Gospel Choir On Pray For Me
Album Rating:- 8.5/10