Each song on Kae’s Study allows Kaestyle to show us the different aspects of himself as an artiste. Kaestyle is able to employ skillful song writing and agile vocals to rise to each challenge…
By Yinoluwa Olowofoyeku
Roughly a year after he was unveiled to the world, while being featured as Apple Music’s Up Next Artiste, he delivers the cleverly titled EP, Kae’s Study. But it didn’t begin with this.
Kelvin Ibinabo Oriye, professionally known as Kaestyle, arrived on the scene in flamboyant style on Independence Day of 2021. Ironically, he didn’t arrive independently. To announce his signing with Key Qaad (the record label that also hosts fellow Port-Harcourt native, Omah Lay), he released a steamy single titled “Stamina.” This single gave audiences a taste of what to expect from the burgeoning artiste: spicy, sultry, borderline explicit sensuality with R&B and Afropop influences. You shouldn’t expect any less from an artiste whose tag is “It’s Kay for the girl dem so.” While Omah Lay bore the flagship role in the spotlight, Kaestyle was in the wings putting together his debut EP.
Emotive plucked guitars kick the EP off on “Better.” P.Priime lays down a very straightforward drum pattern with sweet synths that serve as the backdrop for Kaestyle’s strong and clear voice. And with this powerful voice, he paints the picture of a relationship on the rocks but with room for improvement. “No be small matter, you scatter my shirt and you pulling my dada. Matter we for settle, you dey tana my mama,” he sings with palpable emotion in his voice. Kaestyle’s dexterity as a songwriter is immediately evident. The lyrics are evocative and relatable, communicating the story so clearly to the listener. The smoothness of his vocal delivery further bolsters the effectiveness of the song.
“Moving Mad” is up next and brings us a different energy, allowing Kaestyle to show off his versatility. Featuring drill-like pianos and a pounding energetic afro swing drum pattern, the track sees Kaestyle almost rapping. “No, you never seen another singer with a gangster vibe, came up from the ghetto so I gats survive,” he says, almost explaining where this braggadocious energy comes from. My favourite aspect of this track is the way gang vocals are used in the hook and ad-libs. They inject the song with a dynamic feeling, like the listener is present backing Kaestyle up as one of his homeboys, participating in the call-and-response. Once again, Kaestyle’s pen game shines with simple witty lyrics, even including a cheeky reference to his label-mate.
“Blessings” is a straight Afropop bop courtesy of prolific producer, Blaise Beats. Kaestyle dives right in with these sweet ululations that are sure to get stuck in the listener’s ear. This hook shows that Kaestyle has an ear for catchy melodies without needing to rely on lyrics to make them stick. Omah Lay comes through with a stellar verse as they both wax on about how much life has changed for them now that they have been blessed. “Finally I’m moving out of the zanga, Anything I touch e come dey sound hands…Cos when Oluwa bless you e be final,” Kaestyle testifies. While the song is lighter on anecdotes than I expected, it rides high on the celebratory, almost Highlife, vibe, and that is enough to propel the song all the way through.
“Beauty & the Beast” brings back the best of Kaestyle’s lyricism as he enters storytelling mode again. This song sees him dissuading a muse from seeing a future with him as he is not a good match for her. “You know say oil and water no dey mix well, You suppose to know the difference, Let’s forget about the pretense,” he sings, laying his cards on the table clearly. While I think the instrumental is lacking a bit in terms of uniqueness, it works well as a neutral palette for Kaestyle to paint a vivid picture with his lyrics and measured delivery. I am continuously impressed with how effortless Kaestyle makes his song writing seem. It takes a lot of skill and talent to make something come across this simply.
“Wiser” is the final song, and sits firmly in bedroom R&B territory. Kaestyle reminds us of his sensual side with sexually-charged energy and lyrics boasting of the prowess and irresistibility of both parties. Kaestyle manages to be direct and uncensored without sounding vulgar, which is a feat in itself. While the song delivers on its premise, and would be at home on bedroom playlists, I find it lacking a bit in terms of that intangible sexiness that great songs of this ilk possess.
Kae’s Study ultimately ticks all the expected boxes for a very strong debut. Minimising the features on the project allows Kaestyle to own his sound and carry his songs himself. Where features are present, they are well selected, and serve to complement what he brings. And what he brings is fairly well-developed. Each song on the EP allows Kaestyle to show us the different aspects of himself as an artiste. Whether it’s the R&B sensuality of “Wiser,” the Afropop vibing of “Blessings,” or the street-wise energy of “Moving Mad,” he is able to employ skillful song writing and agile vocals to rise to each challenge.
This level of versatility and adaptability typically proves to be the mark of an artiste that will be able to express themselves in varied and interesting ways as they grow in the industry. My favourite version of Kaestyle is the one he brings on “Better,” and “Beauty & the Beast.” Just like his label-mate, Omah Lay, he shines brightest when he is singing about stories the listener can relate with and emotionally connect to. This EP firmly plants Kaestyle on my radar, and I am eagerly looking forward to hearing how he follows it up.
Lyricism – 1.5
Tracklisting – 1.2
Sound Engineering – 1.3
Vocalisation – 1.3
Listening Experience – 1.2
Rating – 6.5/10
Yinoluwa “Yinoluu” Olowofoyeku is a multi-disciplinary artist and creative who finds expression in various media.