That Uzere Boy takes listeners on a sonic journey that explores Savage’s physicality and sensuality…
By Emmanuel Okoro
Born and raised in Uzere, Isoko South of Delta State of Nigeria, 27-year-old Savage (real name Godson Ogaga Essi) started stringing words together into infectious tunes in 2012. He formed the “Team Nawty” band with six other members, writing, composing, and recording music.
However, his big break came in post-pandemic 2021 when he released “Confident” with BNXN, and briefly followed it up with “Rosemary” with Victony, creating enough buzz for heads to wag his direction. That same year, he released his much-anticipated debut album, Utopia, which helped solidify his position as an artiste to watch out for.
Savage is back with a sophomore effort, That Uzere Boy, a 13-track album which serves as a roadmap into his unique storytelling and animated urgency. The album was digitally released in July 2023. But much more than that, the album delves into his roots, providing context into how his upbringing in Uzere has fuelled his creativity.
The album kicks off with “Hozanna,” a heartfelt rendition that dotes on his struggles for mainstream acclaim and recognition and the desire for the accompanying comforts that come with success. The song features minimalist percussion juxtaposed with heavy bass, as Savage offers obeisance to “Hozanna” to bring his dreams to fruition. Midway, there is an abrupt interruption in the form of a recorded voice note from Savage’s mother, spoken in the native Isoko dialect. This surprising inclusion adds a personal, vulnerable touch to the song, blurring the lines between his experiences and artistic expression. She asks how he is holding up and prays that his voice will be heard across the globe. She says that people will wonder about his roots, and they will trace him back to Uzere, to Isokoland.
This isn’t just a prayer but a powerful reminder of the expectations he now carries, particularly the aspiration to put Uzere, one of the largest oil-producing communities in Nigeria, on the map through his musical endeavours. Savage is aware of the burden and wastes no time getting to work.
“Gangnam Style” comes next. It is a song that pointedly acknowledges and celebrates the captivating callipygian attributes of a love interest. For this record, Savages taps Victony, who takes the first watch, seamlessly navigating the lively drums and bass, much like a farmer tending gracefully to his fields. Savage takes the second verse, but he is no match for Victony’s delivery which carries the song. However, Savage’s distinctive energy makes the song a wholesome listen.
“Oil” sees Savage comfortable in his own lyrical shell, divulging his struggles as a fast-rising Afrobeats star. He notes briefly that not everyone supports his career aspirations, and that some even hope for his failure. However, he remains undeterred as he recognises the spiritual support and abundant “oil” on his head, symbolising his unstoppable nature. The production offers deliberate and minimalist piano chords, creating a spacious and atmospheric backdrop for Savage’s introspective yet animated lyrics. Moments of brilliance come from a saxophone, adding a touch of flair – and making the record a compelling addition to any music collection or playlist.
“Majo” explodes into a gyrating start, elevating the sonic ambience That Uzere Boy provides. Savage, once again, is in familiar territory in this heavily-infused Amapiano and House record. Within the busy log drums and shakers, Savage serenades a lover named Shade with catchy lyrical content. He is joined by the talented Blxckie, who adds an extra layer of depth to the track. The two artists complement each other perfectly, and their collaboration takes the listening experience up a notch. Herc Cut the Lights and DJ Maphorisa’s signature production ties everything seamlessly.
Defiant synth keys pierce the air on the energetic start of “Your Waist,” the drill-laden leading single from the album. The song showcases Savage’s versatility as he delicately toys with the record, combining mellow lyricism with a cheesy delivery filled with adoration for a lover who can’t get enough of him. He effortlessly makes light of their sexual adventures, acknowledging her waist’s significant role in their intimate encounters. As the Highlife-infused chorus kicks in, Savage passionately urges her to roll “your waist,” creating an infectious and catchy hook. PsychoYP’s voice breaks through, adding a new dimension to the track with a lyricism reminiscent of UK-drill anthems. Finally, King Perryy jumps in, adding more depth and bringing the club banger to an end.
Ancient chants briefly appear on “Evil Spirit,” punctuated by flutes and accompanied by log drums which ferociously charge in. It is supposed to be a song about casting out an evil spirit possessing a lady. However, Savage’s perspective deviates from the song title as he becomes fascinated and spellbound by her allure. Half the time, he is surprised by the magnetic pull of her presence, body, and touch. While he calls for help in the second verse, it becomes apparent that he doesn’t genuinely desire assistance. “Evil Spirit” is an archetypal anthem of surrender and obedience to the irresistible feminine energy embodied by this woman. It is a record of reason and desire, elevated by a tune that makes it a worthwhile listen.
“Ki Lo Fe” begins with the gentle sound of acoustic strings, creating an ethereal atmosphere that sets the stage for Alpha P to showcase his artistry. While Savage contributes a few notable moments, Alpha P truly shines on the track, blessing it with flawless vocal delivery and impressive lyricism.
As if he is aware of his limitations on the previous track, Savage makes a grand return in “Concussion,” another single from the album. His feathery lyricism hovers just above the heavy kicks and shakers. The song’s energetic sound and infectious rhythm make it poised to become a party favourite. “Concussion” is designed to make you dance, not think.
That Uzere Boy takes a new turn with “My Sheri,” an informal variation of the French phrase, “mon Cherie,” meaning “my dear.” Savage reveals a sombre side as he confesses his vulnerability in the presence of a lover. The repetition of “Ebelebe” in the chorus adds an emotional touch, leaving certain words unsaid but conveying a deep sentiment. Trinidadian and Tobagonian singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist, Will Gittens, appears in the third verse. Gittens’s involvement amplifies the listening experience. He brings his unique style and talent to complement Savage’s performance.
Savage doubles down on the vulnerability lane with the next effort, “Vanity.” The topic is unrequited love, and Savage laments the loss of a former lover who turned her back on him despite the comforts he provided. Through sombre lyrics, he weaves an analogy between his struggle to win her over and Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, drawing parallels to Christ’s tumultuous journey to Calvary. In hindsight, Savage recognises that, unlike Christ, his efforts were in vain, encapsulated by the notion that it is all “vanity.” The mid-tempo Afrobeats record is characterised by deft bass guitar strings and reverberating drums, creating a subdued and melancholic ambience, amplifying the emotions conveyed in Savage’s lyrics. The song invites listeners to focus on loss and longing, a realisation that Savage is coming to terms with.
An aminated Savage shows up on “Show You,” a House tune that stands out as one of That Uzere Boy’s best submissions. Here, Savage focuses on a lady from a far-removed location in Nigeria who is set in her heart to travel around the world while accompanying superstars. However, Savage urges her to stay with him, promising to indulge her in guilty pleasures and provide an exciting life. WurlD takes over the chorus, elevating the appeal of the jam. WurlD’s vocal dexterity adds a touch of sophistication to the mix, enhancing the overall musical experience. The collaboration between Savage and WurlD creates a dynamic interplay between their voices and distinct lyricism.
On the album’s penultimate track, “Benzo,” Savage glides seamlessly over the Afrobeats and Amapiano-laden tunes. The track’s focus leans towards the musical elements rather than intricate lyricism. Savage compensates for it by featuring South African Hip-Hop artist, J Molley, who takes over the chorus, injecting additional energy and an exciting vocal presence. While “Benzo” holds no lyrical promise, it is a testament to the energetic nature of Afrobeats music.
The album grinds to a halt with the closing number, “Your Body,” another Afrobeats-induced effort. As the title suggests, Savage pays homage to the finely sculpted body of a love interest. Once again, the primary focus here is on the sonic elements, which provide a seductive vibe rather than Savage’s lyrical content.
That Uzere Boy takes listeners on a sonic journey that explores Savage’s physicality and sensuality. The sophomore project is a collective body of work showcasing Savage’s versatility in exploring diverse soundscapes while maintaining his distinctive flow and style. Thematically, the album delves into various topics such as love, loss, pain, and longing, allowing Savage to tap into his vulnerable side. However, Savage’s playful wit shines through on other topics, adding a layer of entertainment and light-heartedness to the album.
While the featured artists bring their A-game to the project, Savage holds his own and delivers magic throughout the 36-minute album, creating cohesive musical experiences. In hindsight, he carries the weight of the expectations of his hometown, Uzere, quite well.
Lyricism – 1.3
Tracklisting – 1.4
Sound Engineering – 1.6
Vocalisation – 1.4
Listening Experience – 1.6
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