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“Stubborn” Review: Victony’s Impressive Debut LP Explores Life’s Highs and Lows

“Stubborn” Review: Victony’s Impressive Debut LP Explores Life’s Highs and Lows

“Stubborn” Review: Victony’s Impressive Debut LP Explores Life’s Highs and Lows| Afrocritik

Stubborn presents a breath of fresh air in a year plagued with subpar projects, but much more than that, it cements Victony’s status as one of West Africa’s new-generation superstars.

By Emmanuel Okoro

The West African music industry, since the “Afrobeats to the World” charge, has introduced a truckload of fresh talents. More often than not, a lot of these artistes fly under the radar. However, acts like the Nigerian singer and songwriter, Anthony Ebuka Victor, widely known as Victony, have learned to be dogged about breaking through and cultivating a cult following around his music. This dogged determination forms the backbone of his debut album, Stubborn.

The singer started as a rapper, releasing covers of popular songs on SoundCloud. His earliest trap singles, “Menace” and “2mins in Space”, released in 2019, were indications of his bright career. He has since switched to R&B and Afro-Pop but retains his Hip-Hop sensibilities, as seen in his 2020 debut EP, Saturn. In April of 2021, Victony faced a life-altering car crash that almost claimed his life — an incident that left him temporarily wheelchair-bound. Despite the setback, his will to share his music with the world never wavered. He released “Pray”, and teamed up with Mayorkun on “Holy Father”, one of the biggest singles of 2021. 

Fully recovered through rigorous surgery and therapy, he began his 2022 music campaign with singles like “Apollo” and “Kolomental” before releasing his critically acclaimed EP, Outlaw, which spurned hit singles such as “All Power” and the global sensation, “Soweto”. He levelled up on his 2022 commercial success last year with the release of several singles and two “Soweto” remixes. Perhaps, one of the high points of Victony’s career last year was a star-studded lineup of 15 artistes and three producers on the single, “Ohema”.

His debut LP follows the release of lead singles “Everything” and the titular “Stubborn”, featuring Asake, introducing listeners to a unique iteration of Afro-Pop meshed with some of the best production in recent times. 

 

The album begins with “Oshaprapra” featuring Shorae Moore. It opens with an audio clip of a voice presumably speaking to Victony, saying, “Bro, you, you stubborn oh”. This alludes to the singer’s grit and determination to navigate through life’s hurdles. Victony builds on this, cruising through the mid-tempo tune, offering glimpses of his tumultuous beginnings on the come up with lines like, “No, omo just in case/ If you try reason to run my race/ Omo, five minutes you don fit craze”.

This thematic exploration of his early days continues with the easy-going “History”, where he reminisces about his childhood and the struggles he faced to achieve his current success. The track is laden with quotable lines such as “‘Cause street no dey give quit notice, hmm/ So, you must wise up my brother/ If you wan carry on/ Make you go size up agbada oh, if you want carry shoulder oh”. Keen ears will notice the clever interpolation of 2Baba’s 2006 classic record “No Shaking” in the chorus. Kzito’s exquisite production on both tracks blends smoothly with Victony’s delivery, setting Stubborn off to a strong start. 

“Stubborn” Review: Victony’s Impressive Debut LP Explores Life’s Highs and Lows| Afrocritik
Victony

P2J takes the reins this time on the high-energy Afro-Pop number, “Ludo”. Here, the singer repeatedly assures a love interest of his feelings, injecting playful innuendos throughout. While Shallipopi’s feature offers lyrical dynamism and a sense of camaraderie, it is particularly apparent that “Ludo” should be solely treated as a party song.

Electric guitar strings usher in “Anita”, marked by frenetic drum rolls that see the singer blending humour and flirtation to win the heart of a love interest so named. Victony asserts his loyalty and protectiveness with lines like, “Hey, no be Instagram challenge oh/ No go double dare my baby/ No come dey do Tacha and Mercy”. 

The combined production efforts of Kzito and Blaisebeats come to life on “Everything”, a record that notably samples Post Malone and Swae Lee’s 2018 track, “Sunflower”. Victony playfully cajoles and praises a love interest to engage with him intimately with lines like, “Oh, make you do me things wey go make e bad man shout gbemidebe/ You dey do the things wey go make Alaba come be like trade fare”. In return, he assures her that he is fully committed to giving everything for her. The “Sunflower” sample on the bridge and outro just makes the track an instant earworm.

On the slow-tempo Afro-Pop and Trap-infused “Risk”, the singer treats listeners to a typical day in his life filled with indulgence and hedonism with raw, unfiltered lyricism. While the first verse examines a casual conversation with a potential lover in a nightclub, the second verse explores their no-holds-barred approach to pleasure. I half-expected an artiste like Blaqbonez, who is quite an expert on themes like this, to make an appearance, but I know that’s wishful thinking.

Stubborn tracklist| review| Victony| Afrocritik
Stubborn tracklist

One of Stubborn’s gems emerges in the form of “Tiny Apartment”, featuring American singer and songwriter, SAINt JHN. Both artistes weave a narrative filled with emotional tension, as they reflect on the aftermath of a fight with their love interest. SAINt JHN takes the first watch, expressing longing and frustration while hoping for reconciliation. In contrast, Victony, weary of the constant fights, emphasises his need for space. The haunting nature of their memories is captured in the pre-chorus with lines like, “I still see your face in the dark, babe, in the hallways/ And I don’t even know when you’re coming home.” This deeply introspective number explores a relationship strained by misunderstandings and unmet expectations. Grammy-nominated producer, Tommy Parker’s groovy production seamlessly ties everything together. On “Slow Down”, Victony teams up with American artiste, Teezo Touchdown, to deliver a ballad dedicated to an enchanting muse, stressing their deep craving for love and affection. The production evokes nostalgia, reminiscent of 80’s and 90’s R&B numbers, which creates a perfect backdrop for their lyrics. 

On “Stubborn”, the singer taps Asake, and they both reflect on their journeys to critical acclaim and commercial success. Victony’s line, “You know I’ve been riding solo/ Way before my tori get promo”, not only expresses how he fought for what he now enjoys but also alludes to the ghastly accident that claimed the life of his friend. The chorus, like the album, reinforces themes of determination and non-conformity to expectations. “Kolo (Kolomental II)” sees the bouncing on a House and Electronic beat, as he confronts his everyday hassles and mental stress. 

“Ba$tard, Don’t Be Silly” is an anthem marked by delicate guitar plucks, mild shakers, and drums. Here, Victony delivers a no-nonsense approach to life and hustle with lines like, “Sharp-sharp, one two three/ Bastard, don’t be silly”. Stubborn slowly winds down with “Pier 46”, an evocative track in which the singer pens an emotional letter to his lover across the world, yearning to be with her. His layered vocals beautifully convey his deep connection with lines like, “E dey hard make I breathe sometimes/ Na your matter wey cover my chest”. His verses are filled with heartfelt promises and plans for their future, delivered in a way that tugs at the heartstrings. 

“Stubborn” Review: Victony’s Impressive Debut LP Explores Life’s Highs and Lows| Afrocritik
Stubborn cover art

“Sunday School” is a quintessential Victony track that finds him expressing his frustration on a lover who has grown distant. He uses metaphors like “Silence no be small thing, e dey do me heart robbery” to describe the emotional toll of their detachment. While he struggles with the reality of his partner’s habitual change, he offers a path to reconciliation — Sunday School — a metaphor for having an open conversation to discuss the way forward.

Stubborn comes to a close with “Street Affair”, a track that sees the “Soweto” singer delve into the themes of betrayal, and the constant need for vigilance and divine protection. He reflects on past betrayals and highlights his mother’s prayers to keep him safe. The chorus, with its repetitive plee, reinforces his desire to keep his personal affairs away from the scrutinising glare of the public. The track ends with an audio clip of the same person heard at the beginning of the album, this time saying, “Talk am normal, you stubborn”, bringing the album full circle, and creating an infinite loop when set on repeat.

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Stubborn can be seen as a collection of intricate experiences and stories that have shaped Victony into who he is today. The singer navigates these unique experiences with skill and dexterity. One of the album’s strong points is Kzito’s production in most of the songs, making the sequencing cohesive. Another high point of the project is the featured artistes who enhanced the album’s lyrical dynamism. Noticeably, a track like “Risk” could’ve benefited from a feature. Overall, Stubborn presents a breath of fresh air in a year plagued with subpar projects, but much more than that,  it cements Victony’s status as one of West Africa’s new-generation superstars. 

Lyricism – 1.5

Tracklisting – 1.5

Sound Engineering – 1.7

Vocalisation – 1.4

Listening Experience – 1.5

Rating – 7.6/10

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 X, Instagram, and Threads: @BughiLorde

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