Home allows Johnny Drille build a home for his listeners, a place where everyone can find pieces of their experience and their current emotions perfectly woven into soothing melodies…
By Hope Ibiale
After releasing his debut album, Before We Fall Asleep, Nigerian singer/songwriter, Johnny Drille is back with a 6-track project tagged Home. In this project, Johnny Drille delivers a collection of songs which courses through topics such as family, friendship, love and mental health. Co-produced by himself and Don Jazzy, Home allows Johnny Drille build a home for his listeners, a place where everyone can find pieces of their experience and their current emotions perfectly woven into soothing melodies.
Like many Nigerian artistes such as Simi, Wizkid, Banky W and many others, John Ighodaro began his musical career in the church. In 2006, he decided to focus mainly on music production, but in 2013, he auditioned in the 6th edition of MTN Project Fame West Africa. Although he didn’t win the competition, Johnny Drille continued to make music, and in 2015, he was spotted by Mavin Records CEO, Don Jazzy. When Johnny Drille arrived on the music scene, he stood out for many reasons, primary of which was his distinct voice which many have constantly compared to that of Jon Bellion. The University of Benin graduate caught the attention of many music enthusiasts when he released a cover of Di’Ja’s Awww. After releasing his debut single, Wait for Me, Johnny Drille soon made his mark on the Nigerian music scene, and he has continued to elevate his skills as a producer, singer/songwriter and audio engineer.
Unlike his debut album, Before We Fall Asleep, Home houses six tracks inclusive of three features. The EP unveils another layer of Johnny Drille’s artistry as he navigates topics like love, family and mental health.
Johnny Drille begins the first track, “Home,” with, “They say that when you lose your way, find a way .back home” With this prologue, he sets the theme of the song. He draws the listeners’ attention with one distinctive thing we all long for: home. The mid-tempo record sees Drille singing about missing home and the warmth of his family. He sings, “I wonder if papa will take me back? If I wanna go home,” referring, we may point out, to the parable of the prodigal son in the Bible. Like the prodigal son, Drille is anxious about returning home and hopes his father welcomes him back with open arms. Nigerian Highlife duo, The Cavemen. complements “Home” with their signature vocals and glide effortlessly over the song’s production describing what home means to them. “Home’ is the confession of a home-sick individual who wants nothing else than to return home and be with their loved ones.
In “How Are You (My Friend),” Johnny Drille delivers an anthem for friends. Drille sings, “See my shoulder make you rest upon me. You know I got you, na me be your friend indeed.”The song, which was released before the EP dropped, hammers on the importance of friendship and checking up on the people in our lives. With “How Are You (My Friend),” Drille promises to be there for his friend, and acknowledges his shortcomings in the relationship while trying to make up for his inconsistencies. “I no go forget you, how I go forget you?” The song which is Johnny Drille’s first entry in the Nigerian Top 20 music charts was co-produced by Johnny Drille and Don Jazzy. Don Jazzy not only offers his production skills, but also his vocals on some parts of the song. He adds more melody to it. It would be easy to replay “How are You (My Friend)” because of its relatable theme, simple lyrics and sweet melodies.
The next song, “Only God Knows,” sees Johnny Drille singing about mental health, the importance of checking up on people and the way humans hide their vulnerability. In this track, Drille diverts from issues on love and friendship to those about the state of the human mind. He dedicates the first verse to a young lady who covers her pain with a smile: “Happy girl on the outside, prettiest smile but she losing her damn mind she cry every night. Nobody cares, nobody hears, when she calling for help.” Johnny Drille dedicates the second verse to a young man who hides under society’s bleak definition of masculinity, “Everybody says men don’t cry so he keeps it inside.” The Pop record paints the minds of the happiest people in the room. They make all the jokes and always seem happy but no one knows about the challenges they face. Johnny reiterates this concept when he continuously chants “Nobody, nobody knows, only God knows.”
In the latter parts of the song, Johnny Drille preaches self-acceptance and says words of affirmation, encouraging anyone who is fighting their demons. He sings, “You’ve got the most beautiful mind, no lies, nothing to hide. God made you special.” With songs like “Only God Knows,” “My Kind of Brown,” and “Shine” Johnny Drille seeks to motivate people and make them accept themselves.
In the Highlife track, “Lover,” Johnny Drille collaborates with Nigerian rapper, Phyno, and together they make confessions to their love interests. Over the guitar strings and drums, Phyno glides smoothly delivering a befitting verse to the song. A Johnny Drille project without a love song is incomplete, and he doesn’t fail to deliver a beautiful love song. Although uncredited, The Cavemen. also lend their vocals to this song giving it an extra Highlife feel.
“Jumoke” is yet another love song, and it is dedicated to Jumoke. The upbeat song has Johnny Drille singing about his love interest and how he plans to care for her. He sings, “Jumoke, there is nobody like you. I don check am your loving na true falling for your bunny tattoo dem no know you like I do,” making sweet promises to Jumoke.
Johnny Drille ends Home with one of the best songs on the project titled “Journey of Our Lives.” The Adekunle Gold-assisted song is the perfect song for lovers. In this track, Johnny Drille and Adekunle Gold sing from a place of love. They bounce off each other’s verses while they display their vocal prowesses. Johnny Drille sings, “I’m wasting no more time. No, not for another minute I’m for the finish line steady on my mind,” declaring his intentions to make things official with his lover. A collaboration between Drille and Gold is a good choice because their delivery is soothing, and their vocals flow seamlessly.
With Home, Johnny Drille transcends from being a preacher of love to telling stories about family, offering hope, and advocating for mental health. It is obvious that Drille keeps developing himself with every project. On this EP, his choice of features was properly picked. Each featured artiste understood their roles. When you listen to songs like “Journey of Our Lives,” “Home,” and “Lover,” there is an obvious synergy and balance. Each artiste complement the other and nothing feels out of place.
Johnny Drille’s penmanship shines on Home, in his churning out relatable and infectious lyrics that carry emotion. Another thing that stands out on this project is the song arrangement. The first three songs course through subjects like the warmth of home, friendship, mental health and embracing one’s self, while the last three songs are dedicated to love. The songs thrive better in their organisation. Across the project, too, Johnny Drille’s well-defined song production shines through. Home shows that Johnny Drille is not only a messenger of love, but an all-round artiste who recognises the pain, longing and state of mind of the next person.
Lyricism – 2
Tracklisting – 1.3
Sound Engineering – 1.5
Vocalisation – 1.8
Listening Experience – 1.5
Rating – 7.8/10
Hope Ibiale is a writer and a book lover. She is currently a student of Communication and Language Arts at the University of Ibadan.