With Life Is Better Now, Nana Fofie takes listeners on a journey filled with pain, introspection, healing, and ultimately, happiness…
By Emmanuel Okoro
Nana Fofie wields an interesting conversation about the dominance of Afrobeats as it continues to transcend borders, rubbing off on African diaspora artistes. And with her sophomore extended play, Life Is Better Now, a sentiment that comes to the fore is the enduring influence of one’s musical roots. It makes a powerful testament, that the music of one’s heritage remains, no matter where you grew up in.
Born and raised in Rotterdam, Netherlands, to Ghanaian and Dutch parents, Fofie had her eyes set on capturing the world, leveraging her soulful vocals and her unique ability to blend European and African sonic elements. She made her point of entry using social media.
She started out making mashups of popular Afrobeats songs and amassed a huge follower base, earning the well-deserved moniker ‘Mashup Queen’ for her efforts. In 2017, her mashup of Runtown’s “Mad Over You”, produced by K.I.D.D, caught up a storm, drawing the attention of her growing fan base and major music heavyweights. Nicki Minaj, who, after hearing the mashup on a hair and makeup tutorial, Shazamed it and expressed admiration for Fofie’s work.
Fast-forward to 2019, Fofie released her debut EP, Rnbw, showcasing her versatility in blending sounds. But perhaps her most exciting moment that year was her role as an opening act for Minaj and Juice Wrld on the “The Nicki Wrld Tour”. Fofie kicked off her music campaign this year by releasing “Selling Dreams”, “Troubling”, and “Seasons”, which served as a prelude and set the stage for a deeper exploration of Fofie’s artistic range. She also announced being signed to Minaj’s new record label, Heavy On It.
Life Is Better Now arrives in the wake of these releases, and with a runtime of 20 minutes, Fofie delves into the delicate matters of the heart, which she confirms are “songs of personal experience that symbolise growth, healing, and better days.”
The curtains open with “Love Is A Drug”, an AfroSoul tune backed by lead guitar riffs and mid-tempo drums, setting an evocative backdrop for Fofie’s voice to pierce through. Here, she delves into the complex and tumultuous terrain of deteriorated relationships. Through the lyrics, Fofie masterfully conveys the pain and confusion that often accompanies such situations. In the second verse, she sings, “You gave me the sweetest love/ And turned into the bitterest loss/ The what ifs and maybe just won’t go away”, encapsulating the rollercoaster of love and loss. “Love Is A Drug” transitions into soulful poetry that sees her hopeful that true love is still out there.
On the Shafique Roman-produced “Heartless”, she takes on a minimalist approach, with acoustic guitar runs and subtle hints of violin runs. While it is mostly stripped-down, it offers an enchanting sonic landscape. Fofie delves into the complexities of a budding romantic connection, where she comes across as heartless due to her past experiences. This, she believes, has made her potential lover wary. Despite the scepticism from her love interest, Fofie reassures him of her genuine intentions and feelings. This willingness to navigate the deep waters of uncertainties and the possibilities of love makes “Heartless” one of Life Is Better Now’s best outputs.
“Mourning” comes next, characterised by acoustic and bass guitar runs, ethereal chords, and mild kicks. These sonic elements create a sombre and reflective atmosphere that complements the song’s theme. Fofie, once again, paints a vivid picture of a person deeply affected by a breakup. Her lyricism mirrors a person with scattered thoughts, grappling with the assumption that her former partner may have moved on to someone else. This sense of heartache and insecurity is palpable in these lines: “I’ve been up all night/ Thinking who is on your side/ Cause ain’t no way you are by yourself.”
Life Is Better Now’s midpoint, “Troubling”, another AfroSoul number, eases in. It offers a seamless fusion of low-tempo drums and brilliant acoustic guitar work that draws sonic parallels to the allure of Burna Boy’s “How Bad Could It Be”. Here, Fofie is wistful and reflective, using her lyrical prowess to convey the depth of loss. In her pain and turmoil, she subtly offers a plea to the divine to liberate her from the overwhelming intensity of loss. The pain in these moments establishes “Troubling” as a standout offering of the EP.
“Selling Dreams” emerges as an emotionally charged track on the EP and sees Fofie reaching even deeper into the realm of heartache and introspection. The lyrics are both heartfelt and relatable, as she tries to make sense of a love that has gone to rack and ruin. The lines “I’ve been askin’ you to call for days/ Tellin’ me to go separate ways/ Who gon’ kiss me in the mornin’ now?” convey the emptiness that follows the absence of a once-intimate connection.
The eponymous track, “Life Is Better Now,” produced by Vianey OJ & Maxwell Bounce, establishes a turning point in the emotional arc explored throughout the album. She realises that the pain she feels is slowly fading away. It is a significant moment of healing and growth, as she acknowledges that dwelling on negativity and resentment is no longer what she desires.
The extended play ends with the uplifting track, “Seasons”, featuring Tanzanian singer and songwriter, Zuchu. It uses mid-tempo drums and lively synths, creating a celebratory atmosphere. In this track, Fofie shares that she has found a new lover who not only understands her but also ignites a sense of love within her. This narrative partly reflects growth and the ability to move forward and embrace a brighter future.
The track’s underlying message resonates with the biblical verse from Ecclesiastes 3:4: “A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.” Just as the Bible acknowledges the cyclical nature of life, this song reflects the idea that life brings both moments of sorrow and joy, and it is possible to find happiness after experiencing pain.
With Life Is Better Now EP, Nana Fofie takes listeners on a journey filled with introspection, pain, healing, and ultimately, happiness. This compelling arc demonstrates Fofie’s storytelling prowess in the process. Her authenticity and vulnerability are palpable in every melody and each track is a chapter in this emotional narrative.
Life Is Better Now is an instant earworm, establishing Nana Fofie as an artiste to watch out for.
Lyricism – 1.6
Tracklisting – 1.4
Sound Engineering – 1.5
Vocalisation – 1.5
Listening Experience – 1.4
Rating – 7.4/10
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