Artist: Omah Lay
Title: Boy Alone
Genre: Afropop, Afrobeat
Date of Release: July 15, 2022
Producers: Tempoe, Niphkeys, P Prime, P2J and more…
Length: 14 Songs; 38 minutes
Guest Appearances: 2; Justin Bieber and Tay Iwar
Away from most of the hustling and bustling of Lagos, Africa’s busiest metropolis, and spending most of his childhood in the oil-rich city of Port Harcourt, Omah Lay would have had far more time for purposeful thinking and sober ruminations than many of his Lagos-bred singing counterparts.
It’s been a recurring reflection in his music since 2019’s ‘Hello Brother,’ continuing to his debut EP ‘Get Layd’ which had the bewitching tunes ‘Damn’ and ‘Bad Influence.’ A sophomore EP ‘What Have We Done’ would ensue in the same year. Singles ‘Understand’ and the hit collaboration ‘Infinity’ with Olamide became global TikTok sensations, combining with a guest appearance on a remix of Gyakie’s smash hit ‘Forever’ to earn Lay widespread acclaim as one of the fastest-rising musicians in Africa.
3 years on and his debut album Boy Alone arrives wrapped in lilac ribbons- a subtle reference to the cover art of ‘Get Layd’– the genesis of Lay’s ascendency. On the 14-track Boy Alone Lay reaches a tipping point in his career, beginning with ‘recognize ‘– a tribute to his beloved PH city, followed by the self-reinforcing ‘i’ where he croons “I cannot be nobody for life” over a wicked P2J beat.
He raves haughtily about his women in ‘bend you’ and ‘woman’ before the powerful and inviting ‘i’m a mess,’ as addiction, self-doubt, depression, hurt, and anxiety take centre stage, offering a glimpse into Lay’s catastrophic world.
Despite his reclusiveness, he’s grateful to friends and family for sticking around on ‘temptations,’ pondering on how they manage to love him so hard. Already one of Lay’s biggest hits, the globetrotting ‘understand’ is a vengeful chant over the harrows of heartbreak and betrayal. Tempoe and Omah Lay combine to devastating effect and it’s no wonder the song reached the heights it did.
The alluring ‘never forget’ takes centre stage, with Omah Lay’s rich timbre on full display. He ups the pitch on ‘safe haven’ with a captivating falsetto and a decrescendo towards the end of the 2-minutes-49-seconds track. Yearns for peace, escapism, and calm reflect in the chorus. For many artists, noting compares to the love they get on the road, performing in front of thousands of fans at sell out venues. Sometimes that can feel like the best place to be, but the tenderness in Lay’s delivery uncovers the layers of trouble in his mind even with all the love on the road.
‘attention’ featuring Justin Bieber gets even more inviting now that Boy Alone has made its full debut. The song didn’t quite blossom like the marquee single it was supposed to be, but the song will enjoy a renaissance with Lay and JB’s voice as seductive as ever. The heavy Hi-life inspired ‘inspired ‘soso’ offers an enticing entrance into the self-criticisms of ‘how to luv,’ with light inflections from Lay’s Ikwere patois.
The curtains start to fold on Boy Alone with the Tay Iwar assisted ‘tell everybody,’ as Lay’s raunchy lyrics and the soul singer’s bewitching tenor lay waste to another killer instrumental from P2J. The show finally ends with the fans-dedicated ‘purple song’ with chants of gratitude and plea for continued indulgence; “Even if I don’t want you no more/ You should not let me go.”
Before his rise to stardom, Omah Lay had been a producer and songwriter. His understanding of sound and strong inclination to be intentional with his music, using it as a means to escape his fleeting emotions; trouble, happiness, anxiety, grief, depression, love, lust, satisfaction, and fulfilment flesh out Boy Alone. The album is like watching a sh*t show, but rather than abort, you desperately want to continue and don’t want the show to end. Sadly, it does, like all good things.