|Emerging towards the end of 2016, Obongjayar has been called many things – a soul singer, future afrobeat, nu-jazz – but regardless of how he’s labelled, each release manages to build upon what came before. Real name Steven Umoh, his music is part future hip hop, part electronic, part afrobeat, built around his raspy vocals and textured, percussive soundscapes.
Across contributions to Richard Russell’s Everything Is Recorded project, to supporting King Krule, featuring on landmark recent records by Danny Brown, Giggs, Pa Salieu, and Kojey Radical – as Obongjayar he continues to affirm his place in Africa’s thriving diaspora of creatives. Now, he has released his highly anticipated debut album, Some Nights I Dream Of Doors.
Across its twelve tracks, he skilfully navigates rich soundscapes and subcultures while moving through a wealth of personal and political topics. With time being a central theme of the album, we find an artist reflecting on his journey so far, crafting multidimensional sounds that fall between the cracks of a multitude of genres.
Speaking about the album’s inception Obongjayar writes: “This album dives into the idea of opportunity and tries to explore what that means, what lies behind those doors, and asks if we’re ready for it. The pursuit of success, what happens when you achieve it, and what happens if you don’t? What does success mean? The head, the body, and the end of a dream. Opportunity is looking forward, and in that lies the question of time. What is your place in it? To know the future, or to fully be aware of your present, you need to analyse and understand your past. It’s an endless loop that continuously piles on itself.”
It’s hard to believe that Obongjayar is only just releasing his full-length album. In the years that have passed since he released his first single, his music still defies easy categorisation. His musical palette is expansive, with a nod to the rich musical textures of his Nigerian roots; he adds a multitude of influences and on Some Nights I Dream Of Doors his sound is more potent than ever. Recorded over 12 months with producer Barney Lister (and from J Rick on ‘All The Difference’), he’s created an album that transcends its influence, creating an innovative and fresh body of work that is ready to define 2022.
Release: May 13th, 2022, September Recordings