The album is a wonderful blend of profound lyricism and expert vocal delivery that delves deep into Fridayy’s personal experiences, while also celebrating his success.
By Emmanuel Okoro
The American music landscape is mostly dominated by pop stars with formulaic templates and predictable releases, but the Philadelphian singer, rapper, and producer, Francis Leblanc, better known as Fridayy, is an aberration noteworthy of mentioning. After a lacklustre output in the first half of 2022, including production credits on Chris Brown’s LP, Breezy, the latter part of the year offered a rollercoaster of events for the artiste.
First, he wrote and sang on DJ Khaled’s Grammy-nominated “God Did” alongside esteemed figures, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, and John Legend. He would later release Lost in Melody, his debut extended play, which showcased his range, and his ability to delve into several themes without losing his sound. While the EP was released to mixed receptions, it had standout singles such as “Blessings” and “Don’t Give Up on Me,” which resonated with audiences on a personal level.
Fridayy closed last year with the release, “Blessings Remix,” featuring Asake, Nigeria’s Afrobeats superstar which, in hindsight, demonstrated his willingness to collaborate with artistes from different cultural exports, and solidified his reputation as a musician with a global perspective in mind. He deploys a similar template with his self-titled debut LP, Fridayy, featuring Nigeria’s Adekunle Gold and Fireboy DML, and Jamaica’s Byron Messia.
Fridayy kicked off his 2023 musical campaign with a scintillating performance of “God Did” with the featured heavyweight artistes which closed the 2023 Grammy Awards ceremony. To celebrate that huge milestone, he released Lost in Melody (Deluxe), a revamped body of work that housed the single, “Shoot,” featuring Ty Dolla $ign, over the masterful production by ReezyTunez and Yonatan Watts.
Beyond his releases, Fridayy has maintained a vocal identity that has seen him get featured on a slew of singles this year, including Lil Baby’s “Forever,” Swedish House Mafia’s “See the Light,” and even contributing to the Fast and Furious: X soundtrack, “Countin’ on You.” These experiences culminate in the release of his self-titled debut LP, Fridayy, where the singer delves deep into exceptional vocal performance and expert lyricism. The album draws influences from a rich spectrum of genres and subgenres, including Gospel, Afrobeats, Soul, and R&B. Across 14 tracks spanning a runtime of 39 minutes, Fridayy bares out his emotions, exploring themes that touch on fame, struggle, love, and pain.
Fridayy opens with “Came Too Far,” featuring the Maverick City Music ensemble. This track beautifully closes the loop in “Momma,” the closing number on Lost in Melody EP. Over grand piano chords, reverberating basslines, and backup vocals, Fridayy celebrates his musical success and his change in fortune since the EP’s release. “Came Too Far” poses as an answer to the uncertainties presented in “Momma.” On the latter, Fridayy reassures his mother not to worry, while on the former, his mother acknowledges the success she had foreseen since his formative years.
The album builds momentum with “Done For Me,” a mid-tempo tune featuring Afrobeats star Adekunle Gold. Here, both artistes offer gratitude to the Almighty for defending their lives against detractors. Lyrics such as “I’m standin’ strong, they fall under me (Under me)/Won’t let ’em knock me down off my feet/Too many times, I fall on my knees,” delve into the challenges Fridayy encountered on his path to success. Gold’s contribution on the track stands out as it bears a sonic semblance to Afro-Pop, a subgenre he has become well-versed in. The production quality here is a testament to the combined efforts of Fridayy, KVRIM, Fortune, S. Dot, and Aidan Brody, yielding a harmonious whole.
“Stand by Me,” one of the album’s lead singles, presents Fridayy’s distinct sound at its finest. This song features stripped-down production, leaving Fridayy’s voice to take centre stage. Here, Fridayy displays expert craftsmanship in conveying a heartfelt plea for support. The lyrical nuance of the song is also intertwined with his personal journey to self-development, amid the challenges of his burgeoning career. The accompanying music video amplifies the thematic essence of the song, displaying different characters battling with mental health and social vices, grounding one in Fridayy’s experiences.
“Heart on the Line,” a fusion between R&B and Soul elements, comes next. Fridayy adeptly contemplates the tumultuous aftermath of a breakup, encapsulating a conversation directed to an ex-lover after a bitter breakup. Amidst bouts of vulnerability and inebriation, Fridayy questions the point of relationships. Lines like “You used to be top five, but now you’re top ten/You used to be my future, now you’re past tense” articulate his inner turmoil and his resolve to move on.
“When It Comes To You” sees Fridayy recognising a newfound flame in his life, a person now present on his dark days, who has sparked a significant transformation within him. The track also expresses his willingness to put aside his pride and be vulnerable for this special person. His lines, “I’d be down to risk it all if you ask me to/Ain’t playin’ with your heart ‘cause that’s too much to lose,” reverberate with an intense desire and unwavering commitment.
On “You,” Fridayy teams up with Fireboy DML to deliver an ode to a love interest. This track seamlessly blends Afrobeats and R&B elements, creating a melodic backdrop that complements their lyrical narrative. While the song celebrates a lover, it also carries an undercurrent of her prowess in intimate moments. The remarkable chemistry between Friday and DML makes their collaboration a standout feature on the album.
Fridayy and Chris Brown come together on the R&B composition, “Don’t Give It Away.” This song follows the theme set in the previous song, as both artistes serenade a lover with promises of affluence and pleasure, with the chorus appealing to her to remain faithful and loyal. The thematic continuity is extended in a stripped-down composition, “DGIA Pt. 2.” This time, Fridayy reflects on the possibility that his love interest may have already traded her loyalty. The weight of this realisation propels him to adopt a more earnest and vulnerable tone as he once again implores her to preserve their emotional connection.
The Deputy and Bass Charity-produced “3 AM in NY,” comes next. It is a track ladened with distorted background vocals which create an atmospheric ambience. Fridayy grapples with his inner demons and the external pressures that come with success. Lines like “They wanna see me dead, I’m a martyr/But we win instead/If we check the score when it’s said and done/Then I’m still ahead” embody his determination to thrive above adversities. “Carry You (Interlude)” arrives with the resonance of stirring chords and the delicate riffs from an electric lead guitar. The sonic feel of the song faintly echoes Snol Aalegra’s “Do 4 Love,” which samples Bobby Caldwell’s 1978 classic, “What You Won’t Do For Love.” Fridayy’s verse is underlined by a bassline that solos his vocal inflexions. Through his lyrics, he pledges to stand by someone, offering unwavering support through their moments of turmoil and darkness.
Acapella vocals lead the way on “Mercy,” featuring Jamaican Dancehall artiste, Byron Messia. The song uniquely fuses Dancehall and Afrobeats elements, creating the perfect backdrop for Fridayy and Messia. Fridayy’s chorus and Messia’s lines collectively express themes of resilience and hope amid their challenging upbringings and climes. Their plea to a higher power for mercy adds emotional depth to the composition and underscores their unique experiences meandering the complexities of life.
The Fridayy, MOMBRU & Musik Spirit-produced mid-tempo tune, “Lost My Way” charges in next. Within this composition, a vulnerable Fridayy delivers a heartfelt prayer to God, imploring his intervention against adversaries who seek his downfall. Fridayy admits that he has faltered and lost his way but is willing to seek redemption.
One of Fridayy’s best efforts comes with “Church on Sunday,” a Hip-Hop-infused song. The track’s energetic feel lingers as Fridayy discusses his struggles as well as his impressive success in American music. “Pour out some liquor for, for the ones we lost/And I’m still grateful for all that time we got,” he sings with mixed emotions, reminding himself to stay focused.
The LP ends with “I Won (Outro),” an urban soul tune. Shouts of celebration gradually fade into the background as Fridayy delivers a spoken verse. His speech resembles an interview response, as though Fridayy is addressing a question about his achievement. With his voice faint throughout the number, he boldly declares that he has won in life and music. He also expresses an unshakable belief to achieve more in the future.
The album is a wonderful blend of profound lyricism and expert vocal delivery that delves deep into Fridayy’s personal experiences, while also celebrating his success. His evocative vocal prowess demands attention, and throughout the project, Fridayy tugs at heartstrings, dragging listeners into his narrative.
Fridayy’s knack for collaborating with multiple producers is also evident on this album. Unlike Lost in Melody, the production on Fridayy offers a sonic feel that ties into the artiste’s lyricism, creating a cohesive and seamless output. The featured artistes pulled their weight on the songs with their appearances, elevating the thematic essence of the project. Fridayy stands as proof of an artiste’s capacity to paint his experiences and emotions onto his music with authenticity and depth.
Lyricism – 1.6
Tracklisting – 1.5
Sound Engineering – 1.4
Vocalisation – 1.6
Listening Experience – 1.5
Rating – 7.6/10
Emmanuel Okoro is a content writer and journo with an insatiable knack for music and pop culture. When he’s not writing, you will find him arguing why Arsenal FC is the best football club in the multiverse. Connect with him on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads: @BughiLorde