December 7, 2023

While this might be Ogranya’s most experimental body of work, his talent and consistency over the years suggest that he could work towards expanding his sonic arsenal and improving how he operates on these sounds…

By Hope Ibiale

As children, we were always asked what we would like to be when we grew up, and often enough, the profession that popped into our little minds was to be a doctor, lawyer, nurse, architect or anything society deemed distinguished. Sometimes, when children strayed far from “normal” professions, their parents would take those decisions as a joke, and shake off the thought from their heads.

However, when it was Ogranya Jable Osai’s time to pick a profession, he decided to study Architecture, but later transitioned, despite his parents’ resistance, to making music in 2013 while schooling in Ghana. Since then, he has never looked back.

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Ogranya’s music has reflected different life experiences from love, heartbreak, loss, healing, toxic relationships, and basic experiences that capture what humans go through daily. The sounds of artistes like Kanye West, Usher, John Mayer, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Justin Timberlake, Duncan Mighty and many others have influenced his unique sound, “Afro-soul,” which has continued to whet fans’ appetites and draw new listeners to his discography.

Ogranya, the second eldest child of four siblings, began writing songs when he was ten years old. The Port Harcourt-born singer who graduated with a degree in Architecture from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), took music as a side job for a while before he decided to quit his day job and focus on music.

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Ogranya’s Eden Evermore

In 2019, Ogranya released his debut EP, Eden Evermore, a project that showcased his songwriting abilities and stamped his presence in the music industry. Some of his other notable songs include Lagbaja, his sophomore EP; Imperfect, a joint project with Wondamagik, and many other songs that have continued to show Ogranya as a talented musician.

In 2021, Ogranya set out on a project tagged Project 52 which aimed to release new music every week to reach a new audience and connect with them.

Since Project 52, Ogranya had been prepping to release Festival of the Sun, a summer-inspired EP that explores themes like love, having fun and taking things one step at a time. It’s here now, but unlike his previous projects, Ogranya, he explores different sounds and features more artistes. The songs are groovier, and Ogranya mentions the name of an old lover.

The 6-track EP starts with “A Good Time,” a song that captures the worries of his mother and sister. This opener track has to be one of the shortest openings on a project, but it positions Ogranya as a fun lover, and gives listeners a peek of what personality he embodies on this project.

“A Good Time” gives off contagious energy, but could have been a little bit longer. In “Abeg,” Ogranya collaborates with Moelogo and Nviiri the Storyteller to preach about taking life easy and staying calm in the face of challenges.

When Ogranya says, “Cool it down for a minute, life is for the living, wahala he no dey finish,” it comes from a place of deep understanding of hardship, but also from a place of hope.

On this track and other tracks on the project, Ogranya delivers most of his lines in pidgin English, and uses Nigerian colloquialisms which make the songs more relatable and easy to understand to the Nigerian audience. Moelogo and Nviiri the Storyteller fit in seamlessly as they give their thoughts on taking things easy.

(Read also: Chike Showcases His Growth on “The Brother’s Keeper” LP)

“I’m Sorry” is an amazing tune that shows what a perfect duet is. I love a good duet, and Ogranya and Johnny Drille are the perfect match for this song. It’s a beautiful summer song that talks about a lover that apologises to his love interest and tries to make things right. The violin on this track was absolutely incredible, the production was flawless, and the voices of the duo blended perfectly.

“Brenda” is an open confession to a love interest. Through this song, Ogranya talks about his love for his muse, and his willingness to wait outside her door and do anything for her. He sings, “I been dey your doormot your neighbour dey look like I theif hin cloth/ Brenda, Brenda I go dey here for you even though this feels dumb,” shamelessly admitting that he has become a fool for love.

Perhaps Ogranya’s quest to make commercial songs led to picking the wrong features, because Gonzalo BlaQ’s verse didn’t fit into “Doings” as his presence was easily forgettable. And although Ogranya sailed through the drums, something seemed to be missing. Maybe Ogranya should have gone solo on this track, or featured another artiste.

The Moliy-assisted “Ecstasy” ends the project on a good note. Because Ogranya has a fan base in Ghana, the decision to feature Moliy was a well-thought-out decision. “I’m feeling you next to me ecstasy. I’m feeling your energy, ecstasy,” Ogranya and Moliy sing about the drug-like love they feel for their lovers. “Ecstasy” is easily one of the best songs on the project.

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Track listing

(Read also: Why the Music of Johnny Drille Resonates with Nigeria’s Hopeless Romantics)

Festival of the Sun is a good project with great production. The new sounds he explores didn’t exert stress on Ogranya’s vocals, and he was very clear. Ogranya’s has a fine pen. At the end of the day, simple songwriting always plays an important role in making great music. Here, Ogranya’s songwriting is simplistic, but equally evokes emotions and tells a good story. It is not the greatest, but it executes its intent well enough. Except for Gonzalo BlaQ’s appearance on the project, the other featured artistes fitted perfectly.

The tracklisting could have been better done. Topical progression is a quality every project must have, even though every project would not always have to be straightforward. “Ecstacy” should have come after “Brenda,” and “Abeg” should have closed the EP. It doesn’t make much sense for Ogranya, who chooses to have fun for the sake of his mother, to suddenly throw caution to the wind on “Abeg.”

Festival of the Sun would have worked better if it told the story of a man who decides to leave his shell in “A Good Time,” falls shamelessly in love in “Brenda,” gets high on love in “Ecstacy,” feels whole with his love interest in “Doings,” falls out of love in “I’m Sorry,” and decides to simply let life happen in “Abeg.”

Ogranya’s willingness to explore other sounds like Dancehall and Amapiano didn’t quite leave a good impression. It was a good effort, but it didn’t quite hit the nail on the head. Ogranya glides smoothly over the tracks, but the songs breath of their intentionality for commercialism, and some didn’t impress me when I listened to them. Exploring different sounds and leaving his comfort zone positions him for a new audience, but this attempt seems to be missing something.

While this might be Ogranya’s most experimental body of work, his talent and consistency over the years suggest that he could work towards expanding his sonic arsenal and improving how he operates on these sounds. Until then, let’s continue to enjoy the Festival of the Sun.

Lyricism – 2

Tracklisting – 1

Sound Engineering – 2

Vocalisation – 1

Listening Experience – 1

Rating – 7/10

Hope Ibiale is a writer and book lover. She is currently a student of Communication and Language Arts at the University of Ibadan.

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