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“Level Up” Review: Tha Boy Myles Sets a New Bar With Sophomore EP

“Level Up” Review: Tha Boy Myles Sets a New Bar With Sophomore EP

Level Up Cover by Tha Boy Myles

Level Up is more than just a collection of songs; it is a definitive marker for Tha Boy Myles, revealing his continued evolution and reinforcing his position as a rising star in the music scene.

By Emmanuel Okoro

The Nigerian and broader African music landscape is teeming with many artistes and a deluge of New Music Friday releases. Thus, the quest for audiences to find and forge connections with a budding artiste can be likened to searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. However, in this sea of contenders, one name stands out for his intentionality towards his discovery – Tha Boy Myles, who has recently released his sophomore extended play, Level Up

Hailing from Lagos State – Nigeria’s pop culture hive – Ogunleye Olawale Michael, like most artistes of his class, embarked on his artistic odyssey from a church choir. He started out rapping, but will later discover that his true prowess lies in the realm of singing, and he embraced the latter. 

The music industry first caught a whiff of him at the end of 2020 when he released his debut single, “Boma.” It was a subtle indication of his potential, spotlighting the budding promise of his artistry. He quickly followed it up in 2021 with the debut EP, Mylestone, a promising body of work that officially ushered him into the industry.

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Since he released Mylestone, Myles has gone on to fine-tune his songwriting and composition and work with some of Africa’s finest producers. Singles such as “Get Loose,” also released in 2021, “Sugar,” and the collaboration with Skiibii on “Shawty,” (both released in 2022) served as auditory milestones along Myles’ path and differentiating him from his peers.

After whetting appetites with the EP’s flagship single, “One Sided,” a melodic gem with Afrobeats sensational singer, Fave, Myles marks an energetic return to the music scene with the sophomore extended play, Level Up

Level Up opens with the eponymous track, featuring Afrobeats superstar BNXN. It is a mid-tempo tune characterised by mild, subtle chords, staccato beats, and the presence of a bass guitar that snugly fits into the musical fabric. “Level Up” celebrates Myles’ career growth and self-improvement within a remarkably short time. Anchored by velvety flows and a blend of English, Yoruba, and Nigerian Pidgin, “Level Up” gracefully narrates his humble beginnings. 

Lyrics like “N**** dey wey don miss yarn, wey don mess up/ Wey don talk on my grind, but I lock up/Mo pawon lo o sho ju won mo level up” paints a tale of channelling his focus into his grind, and ascending to new heights. BNXN’s inclusion amplifies the listening experience, as he injects a new dose of laidback lyricism and dynamism into the song. Dreysoundz, the mastermind behind the production, complements the artistes’ vocal performances with a composition that evokes a sense of triumph. 

Level Up tracklist
Level Up tracklist

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Continuing its upward trajectory, the EP progresses with “Something Special,” an Andre Vibez-produced bop that draws attention with the first note. The song rides on the back of sonorous chords and faint embrace of violins, intertwined with bouncy beats that compel you to nod in rhythm. Myles channels his inner romantic as he serenades a lover. He likens the beauty and depth of her persona to ‘something special’ – a hidden treasure that holds immeasurable significance in his life.

The project’s lead single, “One Sided,” with Fave charges in, and it is not surprising to see why the song is Level Up’s best offering. It possesses a mid-tempo groove that intertwines hints of electro-guitar strings that seem to dance and weave their way through the track’s sonic tapestry. The thematic essence of “One Sided” lingers around longing and a profound desire for companionship and intimacy. 

Myles and Fave approach this topic with artful finesse and a deep sense of the song’s core sentiments. Fave’s lines, “I’m counting days till I see you/Save me from all of this madness,” match Myles’ lyrics “I know you get lonely too/Baby don’t be scared of who can show this side to you.” 

“Mixed Feelings,” featuring Wande Coal, a seductive dancehall tune which carries elements of Afrobeats, comes next. Its sonic landscape is adorned with live guitar strings, establishing a rhythmic foundation and providing ample room for Myles and Coal to make their mark. At the epicentre of the Runchekk-produced song lies a narrative that explores the complexities of a lover’s emotional state. The song delves into the inner turmoil of someone emotionally invested in multiple relationships, causing a conflict where they must choose between fleeting physical connections and the commitment to a lasting partnership. Myles’ verse set the tone with lyrics loaded with emotion and vulnerability. However, Coal’s verse feels like a freestyle but still maintains thematic coherence. Their collaboration is a dance of two distinct vocal capabilities that intertwine and complement each other.

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Runchekk returns yet again for a three-peat production with “Sisi Eko.” The song presents a captivating fusion of Amapiano and House music elements, interwoven with the rhythmic allure of Caribbean guitar runs and dynamic drum rolls. Myles employs street lingua to serenade a love interest. The song’s composition, infectious rhythm and groovy undertones are tailor-made for carpool adventures and nightlife scenes.

Tha Boy Myles
Tha Boy Myles

Level Up takes an intriguing turn with “No Wam,” produced by Major Bangz and Oasebeatz. Jarring drum rolls and vibrant chords establish a unique backdrop. The song carries a sense of urgency and emotional intensity, with sonic elements reminiscent of Sean Tizzle’s “Perfect Gentleman.” Here, Myles weaves an engaging narrative centred around reassurance and emotional commitment. In “No Wam,” the artiste showcases his ability to traverse diverse sonic realms with lyrical grace. 

The curtain draws with “Express,” a tune lingering at the intersection of Amapiano and Afrobeats. The song unfolds against a backdrop of intricate EDM synths and percussive elements. Blending Nigerian Pidgin with Yoruba, Myles navigates his verses with a sense of swagger and confidence as he celebrates a life without worries.

(Read also: THREE Review: KLY’s Album Reflects on Love, Lust, and Internal Conflicts)

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At its core, Level Up takes Myles’ artistry to greater heights, again placing the spotlight on his career. Thematically, Level Up showcases a remarkable cohesion that binds each track into a harmonious whole, embodying a unified overarching theme. Myles has levelled up and it shows. 

Myles’ acquired taste for top-tier production is evident, with the EP boasting production credits from top producers, Major Bangz and Andre Vibez. However, Level Up experiences shining moments with budding producers: Dreysoundz, Oasebeatz, and Runchekk. But more than that, Myles matches the stellar instrumentation with eloquent lyricism and vocal delivery that shines throughout the project. The featured artistes are not mere placeholders to extend the album’s meagre runtime, but rather, are strategic additions that ramp up the dynamism and texture of the project.  

Level Up is more than just a collection of songs; it is a definitive marker for Tha Boy Myles, revealing his continued evolution and reinforcing his position as a rising star in the music scene.

Lyricism – 1.4

Tracklisting – 1.5

Sound Engineering – 1.5

Vocalisation – 1.5

Listening Experience – 1.4

Rating – 7.3/10

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

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