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“R2 Sept 12” Review: Bella Shmurda Navigates Loss and Resilience on His Latest Project

“R2 Sept 12” Review: Bella Shmurda Navigates Loss and Resilience on His Latest Project

R2 Sept 12 | Review| Afrocritik

The blend of introspective lyrics and vibrant production makes R2 Sept 12 a compelling and memorable musical journey. 

By Hope Ibiale

Months after the untimely demise of Nigerian street-pop artiste, Ilerioluwa Oladimeji Aloba – known popularly as Mohbad in 2023, his friend, and fellow Nigerian artiste, Bella Shmurda, seeks to immortalise the gifted musician through music. This project is not just a medium for expression for Bella,  but it is also a shared artistic bond between both artistes. With his latest release, R2 Sept 12, Bella delivers a heartfelt tribute. 

Unlike his previous projects, R2 Sept 12 offers a new perspective on Bella’s experiences. Here, he isn’t pouring out his dreams and aspirations like he did on his debut EP, High Tension, nor does he approach his latest project with the braggadocio attitude embedded in Hypertension. Instead, he invites Bloody Civilian, Zlatan, and Jeriq, to share his pain while reminiscing on his struggles. It is not centred around Bella’s artistic growth, it is a deep dive into the emotions of the man behind the music. 

In the first track, “Feelings”, Bella delves into his emotions. On the record, the artiste takes listeners through his musical journey. The upbeat record might distract listeners from the themes Bella explores here, as he sings about his challenges with mental health, the loss he has dealt with, and how he fervently prays for God’s help. When he sings, “I go give them vibe till am 99”, Bella reiterates that despite life’s challenges, his music will remain one of the best. “Feelings” is a clear indicator that R2 Sept 12 is one of Bella’s most intimate music projects. 

After letting his emotions soar in “Feelings”, Bella moves up to sing about his personality in “Loner”. With the song’s opening line, “Everything different since you left me. I cannot pretend but I go try my best”, the artiste opens up about the impact of Mohbad’s death. In the Konto-influenced record, Bella sings about his preference for zero company. Once again, listeners are given a glimpse of Bella’s life behind the fame. In the music video, Bella is shown surrounded by video vixens, friends, and family, but still considers himself a loner. One wonders if the death of one of his closest friends has further pushed Bella to prefer his personal space. 

R2 Sept 12 | Bella Shmurda| Afrocritik
R2 Sept 12 Tracklist

Bloody Civilian hops on the next record, “1999”, with Bella. Here, both artistes commend their work rate and rewrite their life goals. While the track might be an ode to their hustling spirit, it is also an anthem for resilient listeners. Bloody Civilian’s contribution to the record merges beautifully with Bella’s melodies to make for an enjoyable laidback tune. 

On the penultimate track, “Oghene”, Bella recruits rappers, Zlatan and Jeriq for another anthem that pays homage to their resilient spirits. While Bella might have taken a sombre position on previous tracks on R2 Sept 12, there is a renewed energy with which he approaches “Oghene”. The song’s chorus, “Ahh abobi no go tire, ahh abobi just dey fire. Mugbo lati Ghana wo Canada”, is an infectious part of the song because of how prominent the instrumentals are in this part of the record, and the raw determination in Bella’s vocals. Zlatan’s signature adlibs and energetic delivery charge up the record, while Jeriq brings a thumping addition to the track. “Oghene” brings renewed energy to the EP, with its infectious chorus and spirited contributions from Zlatan and Jeriq, while also showcasing Bella’s tenacity for success despite his hardships.

R2 Sept 12| bella shmurda | Afrocritik
Bella Shmurda

The emotionally charged “Brother” closes R2 Sept 12. On the record, Bella reminisces on his moments with Mohbad, he recounts how they met and questions the essence of life. Through the artiste’s voice, listeners can hear Bella struggle with accepting the loss of a friend as he chants, “Elijah, can you bring my brother back?” With “Brother”, Bella pays homage to his friendship while he painfully grapples with moving past the pain. The chants of Mohbad’s name at the end of the record are tear-jerking. The pain a music enthusiast might feel over losing Mohbad might likely pale in comparison with the grief Bella feels, and with “Brother” listeners can get a glimpse of this. 

R2 Sept 12 is an emotional expression of Bella Shmurda’s deepest feelings. Throughout the 5-track project, the artiste’s vulnerability seeps through the project’s production. For a project solely dedicated to the memory of Mohbad, there are small spots that allude to the late artiste until listeners get to the tribute record, “Brother”. Also, on records like “Feelings”, “Loner”, and “1999”, it appears as if Bella holds back from being fully vulnerable. The Konto influences and the energy on “Oghene” slightly buries Bella’s emotions. Regardless, R2 Sept 12 stands as a deeply personal and introspective project from Bella Shmurda. 

The EP not only honours a lost friend but also invites listeners into Bella’s world, revealing the man behind the music. The blend of introspective lyrics and vibrant production makes R2 Sept 12 a compelling and memorable musical journey. While the level of emotional depth required for the project doesn’t reflect on every record, Bella still renders an impressive homage to Mohbad. Perhaps the emotional depth will be witnessed on the project set to be released on the one-year remembrance of Mohbad, September 12. 

Lyricism – 1.2

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Tracklisting – 1.3

Sound Engineering – 1.5

Vocalisation – 1.3

Listening Experience – 1

Rating – 6.3/10

Hope Ibiale is a writer and journalist. She has a keen interest in music, film, and literature. You can connect with Hope on X @hopeibiale and via email: hopeibiale@afrocritik.com. 

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