Love Me More is a concise, smart, and grand return of J. Martins to the African music scene…
By Emmanuel Daraloye
On October 7, 2022, J. Martins released a five-track EP titled Love Me More, under the Don Music Family Group. It is his first project release since 2016.
J. Martins, real name, Martins Okechukwu Justice, formally introduced himself to the Nigerian music scene with “Good Or Bad” in 2008. The smash hit had inputs from Timaya and P Square. While you might feel it was too crowded for such a budding artiste, J. Martins did well on the song in showing Africa the talent he possessed. He followed it up with the motivation-laden “Cool Temper.” Since the release of these two songs, things changed for good for him. He took his music outside Nigeria, becoming a frequent performer in French-speaking countries long before Yemi Alade came with her Mama Africa mantra. J. Martins, however, has been relatively inactive in the scene as he has been devoting much of his time to entrepreneurship and advocacy in recent times.
Shakers, synths, bass line, and a spooky guitar kick form a large chunk of the production of the first song on this EP, “Onye Malu.” A reluctant J. Martins had some words for his supposed lover “Attention, I hate to do this but listen to me.” It’s a call to action. In the second verse, he admits he doesn’t feel like addressing the topic but he sees the need to address her, to stop her from defaming him. It’s a warning. On the second verse, he takes it more personally as he throws words around, and accuses her of lying and faking it. He pleads with her to stop to avert the repercussions of her actions. On “Onye Malu,” he addresses some lingering issues. No doubt, he’s displeased over some things. Could the lover in question be an ex or a former friend? It’s difficult to ascertain, but one thing is clear in this song: he has some words to say, he says them, and I hope he finds some relief from it. The occasional saxophone run on this song is a beautiful delight. It serves as a musical coat on the instrumentals, and complements J. Martins’s beautiful vocals.
The instrumental of “Gimme Lov” shares similarities with Omah Lay’s “Woman.” The topics are alike, too. On this track, J. Martins is jumpy and sounds more excited. It’s a ballad that touches on faithfulness, sex and more. J. Martins, alongside the backup singer, claims to be madly in love with a girl and begs for her love. It’s a shade of Highlife mixed with a bit of Afrobeats. This is a signature J. Martins’s sound, and it doesn’t sound as if he’s trying to gamble. He sticks to what he knows how to do best: his ability to strike up a good melody. The song is bound to make you sway to its mood. However, the refrain crowd vocals used on this song is needless and jars the ear. But then, the solo guitar run is a fine way of ending a track. “Gimme Lov” would be a great addition to the next wedding playlist. He stands to gain more if this song is properly promoted.
What’s an EP without Amapiano these days? Even though the last time J. Martins released a project was over six years ago, he seems to be saying that he is still in tune with the latest development in the music industry. In “I Like,” J. Martins calls on an unnamed hype man who heralds the track. The hype man tries to rouse the listeners, but it is difficult to separate the talk from the noise. At the end of his take on this song, you discover that it’s a mix of 80% noise and 20% talk. By the time J. Martins’s vocals come up, the hype man already puts you in party mode, and all J. Martins does is continue from where the hype man stopped. He does this so well that you might mistake him for one of the new, Gen Z artistes around. On “Like It,” J. Martins calls the listeners to the dance floor, to dance and be merry. The Amapiano production is cumbersome. How he penetrates the beat to craft possibly one of the best Amapiano songs of the year is a pointer to his creativity and mastery as a singer.
The now deceased DJ Arafat was a long-time friend of J. Martins, and they had many songs together while he was alive. “Ifunanya” is one of those which never got released. It is a terrific burst of energy from both artistes. It’s old, but this is pardonable. It takes a generous level of creativity to recreate a song like this, play it to an audience of the year 2022, and get a remarkable reply from them. DJ Arafat brings his boisterous energy to play on this song via his long verse which complements what J. Martins sings. It is both romantic and party-centred.
Originally released in 2016, “Ikwusigo” got the needed remix courtesy of the fantastic Congolese legend, Innoss ‘B. The song is a message to enemies. On this song, he laments about people’s antics, their loquacious tendencies, and their tendency to assassinate his character.
Love Me More shows J. Martins’s flair for music is still in form. While this is his first project release in more than six years, there is no doubt that he’s still in touch with music. While the necessity of the title remains to be seen largely on this project, the title could be a plea to people to appreciate and give him the accolade he deserves. Love Me More is a concise, smart, and grand return of J. Martins to the African music scene. Through this EP, he doles out songs to his English and French-speaking fans, reasserting his legendary status, and giving the day-one fan something to spin.
Lyricism – 2
Tracklisting – 1
Sound Engineering – 1
Vocalisation – 1
Listening Experience – 2
Emmanuel Daraloye is Africa’s Most Prolific Music Critic. He has over 450 album reviews in his archive.