Beyond the new streaming figure, I found the deluxe version needless. Ayra Starr offers nothing new on this project. It’s simply a redundant exercise to, perhaps, garner streams…
By Emmanuel Daraloye
Songstress and “Rush” crooner, Ayra Starr, makes a return with a new body of work, the deluxe version of her debut album, 19 & Dangerous. Although she is no longer nineteen years old, it is clear she still maintains her “dangerous” tendencies. The deluxe version contains a remix of one stand-out track from the original album, and the refix of “Lonely.”
Ayra Starr has been surrounded by music since her birth, from her mother who sings, to her brothers who are skillful songwriters. Ayra Starr constantly elevated herself by listening to songs by 2Face, Nicki Minaj, Asa, and others. However, before Starr began to do music, she had been a model. At the age of sixteen, she signed a contract with Quove Model Management. She took her musical pursuits more seriously between 2017 and 2018 when she began uploading online covers of some of her favourite songs. In 2019, she was spotted by music guru and Mavins records boss, Don Jazzy, after she posted her debut single on Instagram.
At the end of more than a year of mentorship at the Mavins music academy, Ayra Starr was officially introduced in the first quarter of 2021 with the release of an experimental, self-titled EP Ayra Starr. Eight months later, she followed up with a debut album, 19 & Dangerous. On October 21st, 2022, she returned with the deluxe version of the project.
On 19 & Dangerous deluxe, Ayra Starr brilliantly meanders between R&B, Jazz, and Afropop with a copious tribute to EDM and Neo-soul. The topics on the album swirl between mental health, love, heartbreak, self acclaim and others.
On the opening track, “Cast,” an unnamed woman opens the track. She laments about life and its problems, before Ayra Starr comes through. “If I cast, make I cast,” Starr sings. It’s a rebellious tune, an empowering track for those who cannot make decisions for themselves. Ayra Starr simply promises to take the bull by the horn, and, perhaps, get ready for the consequences.
“Ase” is a residue of “Cast.” The only difference would be the Yoruba language used and the occasional use of the F word. Starr’s seems to be fed up with the societal rules. She wants to live the way she wants. She sings about this while the backup singers offer a sublime contribution to the track.
American Pop star, Kelly Rowland, stamps her alluring vocals on “Bloody Samaritan Remix.” It’s a free fall of emotions with Rowland expounding more on the topic with her free-flowing vocals. There is no doubt she is a fan of the song, and also of Starr.
The slippery state of romantic relationships forms the refix of “Lonely.” It finds Ayra Starr at her most vulnerable and innocent state. She pours her heart out to her better half. She talks about how her love was not reciprocated, and asks questions bordering on belief and trust. She sounds like one of those girls who confuse infatuation with love. Zinoleesky, the featured artiste, almost steals the shine off the song. He goes all in, elevating the topic, and offering his own side of the story. He plays the part of Starr’s love interest, and assures her of his commitment.
“Snitch” is a dark epistle to an emotionally unavailable boyfriend. It’s menacing and terrifying. It’s one of the tracks that finds Starr at a helpless point.
In a bid to pilot issues like heartbreak, and depression, Ayra Starr finds solace in drugs on “Toxic.” She blames her boyfriend who introduces her to it. “In Between” is built on Starr’s constant battle with anxiety. It’s a mid-tempo, Neo-soul-inflected tune that finds her skillfully using her voice.
“MonaLisa” crooner, Lojay, complements Ayra Starr on “Running.” There, they both reaffirm their commitment and unalloyed support to each other. Although Starr lists out all her fears, Lojay tries all he could to allay them. Did he succeed? Yes, I guess.
Alte meets Afrobeats on the CKay-assisted “Beggie Beggie.” The track revolves around teenage love; the constant doubt of loyalty and the question of “what if?” “Karma” is built on vengeance. It’s a type of track you send to your ex-boyfriend who just got dumped. Starr refers to Karma as a good lover after her ex boyfriend gets dumped.
Ayra Starr brags on “Bridgertn.” It is filled with self-celebratory lines.
“Sabi girl no dey too like talk,” Ayra Starr croons on her latest chart topper, “Rush.” It’s a celebratory track with Starr emphasising that she’s living life to the fullest with no concerns. She further rides on the catchy hook to craft one of the standout tracks of 2022.
The body shape war seems not to be ending soon as Ayra Starr and American singer, KayyKilo, throw shades at thick girls. They ride on their advantage over thick girls: how they, the curvy girls, hypnotise men.
“Amin,” and the original version of “Bloody Samaritan,” ends the album. The former is a prophetic message for the future. Starr talks about living debt-free and being successful, while on the latter, she remains resolute in conquering her goals in the face of life-threatening obstacles.
More than 13 months after the release of her debut album, Ayra Starr has conquered some of her goals: performed at important events, rousing large audiences, topping charts, and more. With this deluxe album, it’s safe to say that she tries to top up these successes. However, was the album even necessary?
Beyond the new streaming figure, I found the deluxe version needless. Ayra Starr offers nothing new on this project. It’s simply a redundant exercise to, perhaps, garner streams. The new songs could have formed a new EP or been the first half of her proposed second album. Mavins Records and Ayra Starr are simply playing safe with this project. Are they still stuck in the allure of 19 & Dangerous? Are they finding it difficult to let it go?
Lyricism – 2
Tracklisting – 1
Sound Engineering – 1
Vocalisation – 1
Listening Experience – 1
Emmanuel Daraloye is Africa’s Most Prolific Music Critic. He has over 450 album reviews in his archive.