Yusful Music demonstrates notable growth in YKB’s vocal performance and melodic flair. Throughout the EP, he shows his comfort in various melodic pockets, ranging from strong singing on ‘Bo Card’ to more relaxed vibing on ‘San Siro’…
By Yinoluwa Olowofoyeku
Yusuf Olowo is an emerging artist hailing from Ketu, Lagos, Nigeria. With a profound passion for music, YKB made his debut in 2019 under the moniker “Yusufkanbai,” before going on a run of singles that would lend him some acclaim. He also cut his teeth on a duo of features on Ejoya Music’s Class of ’20 compilation album. In 2021, he used his breakout Zlatan-assisted single, “Dey Your Dey” as an opportunity to rebrand as the simpler “YKB.” That year, he also sunk his anchor into the industry, giving us his 7-track debut offering, “Before I Blow.” Two years later, he follows it up with his sophomore project, titled Yusful Music.
“Pressure” opens up the EP with some emotional depth, delving into YKB’s personal familial expectations on him, pressuring him to make his mark quickly. “I know you love your hustle but it’s important that you play your role,” he sings from the perspective of his sister. “Because say I no get money, They no dey rate me for my family,” he reminisces over a soulful ambiance with soft pads, vibrant Afro drums, captivating sax passages, and delightful bass guitars. The heartfelt lyrics resonate, accompanied by poignant piano flourishes, as YKB navigates the weight of expectations pressing on him.
He follows this poignant opening with “Bo Card (Things I Need).” On this record, YKB showcases his vocal prowess in a sensual manner, assuring his lover of her adequacy. The track is soaked in mellow chill vibes with smooth jazzy chords that create a light and airy atmosphere for YKB’s vocals to effortlessly float over. The subtle rumbling bass synth and sparse Afro drums contribute to the song’s seductive allure, while backing vocals and colourful ad-libs add layers of richness.
Witty and charming, “San Siro” is up next, emerging as a love song with playful lyricism, albeit accompanied by a few eye-roll-inducing lines. Mileage will vary with the different expressions of affection that YKB employs on this song, in line with the popular “only butter in my bread, only sugar in my tea” tropes. While the instrumental may not be the most captivating, consisting of typical Afrobeat drums and basic chord progressions, YKB’s vocals shine through. The harmonies are delightful, and the bridge with deep log drums adds an interesting touch to the overall composition.
“Komplete Riddim” injects a playful vibe into the EP, inviting listeners to groove along with its lively clacking percussion-driven drums and expressive strummed guitars. YKB is quoted saying this is the song that was the most fun to make, born on a night of producer-artist “vibing out.” The fun element is evident as YKB explores various vocal pockets, incorporating falsetto and manipulated deep vocals into the song, resulting in a sonically-intriguing experience. Thematically, the song ends up being another wooing instrument with basic lyricism. However, for what it is, YKB does a decent job using his melodies to carry the listener along on the somewhat destination-less journey the song eventually is.
As a fitting bookend to the EP, “Traffic” narrates another personal story, emphasising YKB’s persistence and unwavering dedication to success despite the obstacles faced. He sings, “I’m on my way, on my way, I’m just caught up in the sunkere, sunkere fakere oko, The traffic.” The emotive track embraces the typical Afrobeats drums and strummed guitars, creating a familiar backdrop for YKB’s lyrics and vocals to shine through. Once again, just like on “Pressure,” the real strength of the song lies in its honest and introspective qualities.
Before the album’s release, YKB expressed a desire to further develop himself as a musician, to gain mastery over the medium through which he has decided to pass across his messages. To that effect, Yusful Music demonstrates notable growth in YKB’s vocal performance and melodic flair. Throughout the EP, he shows his comfort in various melodic pockets, ranging from strong singing on “Bo Card” to more relaxed vibing on “San Siro.” There is a strong focus on clear lead vocals that he selectively bolsters with sweet harmonies and fun ad-libs. So, the vessel has seen some improvement. As for the message being communicated, that doesn’t seem to have gained much clarity yet. Beyond “Pressure,” and “Traffic,” the songs are focused on the typical advances at a romantic partner, showering praise and effusing admiration. “Pressure” and “Traffic” offer a peek into what happens when YKB pulls on more personal feelings and experiences. The song-writing levels up and the songs seem to connect with the listener more sincerely.
The production on Yusful Music is almost standard Afrobeats fair. The instrumentals of “Pressure” and “Bo Card” feature unique elements that raise the bar. The rest of the beats tow the lines of the average, providing serviceable and effective backdrops for YKB who did a good job elevating them. All the engineering is really good, with no glaring missteps or oversights and generally clear mixes across the board.
YKB does himself a bit of a disservice sticking so closely to one kind of sound. One of his calling cards is usually his versatility and ability to draw on varying influences. He doesn’t do much to demonstrate that on Yusful Music, which sells him a bit short. However, while it would have been intriguing to witness more stylistic experimentation, Yusful Music comes in as a concise and cohesive project. The EP weaves beautiful melodies with tasteful backing, combining moments of reflection with bursts of energetic simplicity. The EP captures a fleeting journey of artistic growth. The hints of heartfelt lyrics and sincere introspection, coupled with a handful of new melodic tricks point to YKB’s steady evolution as an artist, while also offering a promising glimpse into his musical trajectory.
Lyricism – 1.2
Tracklisting – 1.1
Sound Engineering – 1.4
Vocalisation – 1.4
Listening Experience – 1.1
Rating – 6.2/10
Yinoluwa “Yinoluu” Olowofoyeku is a multi-disciplinary artist and creative who finds expression in various media.