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“Masta” Review: Tim Lyre’s New EP Chronicles His Artistic Evolution

“Masta” Review: Tim Lyre’s New EP Chronicles His Artistic Evolution

Masta cover - Tim Lyre - Review on Afrocritik

On this brilliantly sequenced project, Tim Lyre establishes himself as a force to be reckoned with, putting down any notion of complacency or creative exhaustion.

By Emmanuel Okoro

There will always be a debate about the sonic distinction between Afrobeats and Afro-Fusion. While this writer believes they are essentially synonymous, an intriguing aspect frequently cited in favour of the latter is its capacity to tap into diverse sonic realms. Tim Lyre is a versatile artiste who encompasses the essence of Afro-Fusion, standing out as a genre-bending singer, songwriter, and producer. His latest extended play, Masta, exemplifies his unique ability to push common music segmentations. 

Hailing from Lagos, Nigeria, Timothy Oyesanya, better known as Tim Lyre, started learning how to read classical music and play the piano at the age of 10. However, as the years rolled by, his interests evolved towards contemporary forms. By 2012, he had started working as a producer. Still, it wasn’t until 2016 that he stepped into the limelight with the release of his debut single, “Mornings”, swiftly followed by the Circa 94 EP, while building his SoundCloud community. 

Since then, Lyre has continued carving his path, releasing several EPs, including 2019’s inDigo and 2020’s Senpai, 3 Strains, and K.A.P. Last year, he unveiled his debut album, Worry < – where the mathematical symbol “<” signifies “less”. The album boasts standout tracks like “Syzygy” featuring DAP the Contract, “Highlife” featuring Prettyboy D-O and Lady Donli, and “Present”. Leading up to the release of Masta, Lyre teased audiences with “Confess” which was put out last year, and “Chasing Wind” and “Tighter”, released this year, showcasing his unique vocal dexterity and songwriting skills. 

Released under Outer South record label, Masta opens with “Why Evils” featuring Neo-Soul artiste and label mate, Tay Iwar, a collabo that immediately establishes the EP’s tone. Over mid-tempo drum bounce and faint piano chords, Lyre goes on an internal monologue about his musical journey, one that has been marked by success and fame. His verses are calm and measured, as he questions the motives of those who may seek to challenge him. Lines like “Bank account be like House of Parliament/ Big bills, Eleniyan, big deal/ Baby, I’m way too skilled for these niggas to test me” convey a sense of confidence and resilience, positioning Lyre above the sea of detractors. Iwar takes the second verse, reminiscing on his own journey and adding a dose of vibrancy to the narrative.

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Pulsating drum bounces introduce “Running Over”. The track’s chord progressions give a subtle nod to Leon Haywood’s 1974 record “I Want’a Do Something Freaky to You”, a sonic connection that is also easily recognised from Dr. Dre’s iconic 1992 track “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang”. Lyre’s lyricism is layered with braggadocio, as he pounces through the beat with a commanding Raggae flow. He addresses those who undermine his prowess in the industry, responding with unapologetic confidence with lines like “Now wey I don master the art, you can call me Van Gogh/ Bad belle pack up your shit and go”.

He doubles down on the established theme with the next number, “Masta”. Here, he teams up with UK rapper, Jords, over a song crafted for nocturnal party playlists or lively carpool moments. Guided by Code6’s production, Lyre navigates the song with an unmatchable flow, consolidating his dominance in the Nigerian music scene, while issuing a warning to haters to steer clear. While Jords can barely keep up with Lyre’s rapid-fire delivery, his contribution remains commendable, as it adds a dynamic synergy to the theme explored.

Masta experiences a sonic shift with the Ronehi-produced “Skyline”. Distorted strings and chords define the sound, set against a mid-tempo bounce that marks a departure from the previous tracks. While Lyre remains in familiar sonic territory, “Skyline” takes a different thematic direction, as he delivers an ode to his success, offering a vivid portrayal of the debauchery and attachments that accompany it.

Masta tracklist - Tim Lyre - Afrocritik

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The EP’s lead single, “Chasing Wind”, comes next. On this self-produced track, Lyre treats audiences to a distinctive blend of electric guitar strings echoing in the background, with the drums and piano keys commanding the forefront. Here, Lyre provides insightful commentary on the vanities and mental toll associated with success, likening it to chasing the wind. Lyrics like “Many things wey man dey see, we no fit talk am finish/ But we still gonna keep it movin’ with enough confidence” reveal a candid reflection on the challenges he has faced in his pursuits, but more so, a determination to keep striving. 

Lyre reveals a playful and witty side in the Mytee Menko composition, “Confess”. The track, characterised by mid-tempo drum rolls and basslines, sets the stage for Lyre to invite a lover to confess her intricate thoughts, questioning whether he occupies a space in them. Between lines like, “When you’re all alone in your bed at night/ Wanna know the things you’re dreaming of”, Lyre crafts pictures of anticipation for their time together.

Tim Lyre - Afrocritik
Tim Lyre

On the EP’s penultimate track, “Tighter”, Lyre taps the assistance of singer, Minz. The track is charged with a sexual atmosphere, as they take turns to paint details of a sexual encounter with their lovers. While Lyre’s verse possesses finesse in detail, Minz’s verses are straight to the point. 

The extended play ends on a high note with “Mood”, a House record featuring singer and songwriter, Khanyisa. Lyre’s ability to ride on this sonic wave is evident, as he flows confidently along with Khanyisa to deliver a jam about intimate moments.

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Masta re-establishes Tim Lyre’s ability to discover and explore different sonic pockets without breaking a sweat. In more ways than one, the EP positions him as a master with a boundless creative spirit. While the featured artistes on this project inject a notable dose of dynamism, none match the level of lyricism and delivery that Lyre brings to the mix.

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On this brilliantly sequenced project, Lyre establishes himself as a force to be reckoned with, putting down any notion of complacency or creative exhaustion.

Lyricism – 1.5

Tracklisting – 1.4

Sound Engineering – 1.3

Vocalisation – 1.5

Listening Experience – 1.3

Rating – 7/10

Emmanuel ‘Waziri’ 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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