Obongjayar Which Way Is Forward? September Recordings
Having grown up in Nigeria and moved to London when he was 17, Obongjayar’s music is hard to pigeonhole, with his reference points taking in everything from Afrobeats and funk to more abrasive electronic textures and straight-up rap.
But the idea of merging different cultures, and exploring his identity within them, is fundamental to Obongjayar’s artistry. This EP spiritually connects with the artist’s African roots, shot through a prism of Western urbanity. On Santigold-esque opener Still Sun, Obongjayar sings from the bottom of his chest about the ups and downs of city life, but by next track Dreaming In Transit his vocals start to lighten. The powerful rallying cry – “Don’t turn your backs on us/ Look what you’ve done” – is delivered in a high-pitch falsetto, seemingly channelling the still-raw anger prompted by Grenfell. Throughout the EP, Obongjayar demonstrates impressive emotional clarity, consistently giving you a window into his soul.
This is music made for people unsure of their place in the world, who perhaps consider themselves to be on the fringes of a white society, with the ticking hi-hats and flashing synths present on God’s Own Children and Soldier Ant giving off the feeling of being chased and encircled by vultures. Both tracks are an exhilarating rush, and when Obongjayar later talks about flooding the streets in defiance, you feel compelled to go join him. Obongjayar’s potential is limitless, and it’s exciting to imagine where he’ll go next.