With Worlasi’s Nusɛ, it’s just as much the flame in every single song as it is about the overall experience of the project. Every one of the songs on that mixtape is majestic in their wonder, but when you listen to those 13 tracks at half past midnight, God is not so far away. Believe me, they respect my opinion on music of late.
You’ve not heard of him yet? That’s alright. I feel sad for you, but it’s alright. The truest artists usually have to be looked for. If the gods permit, we stumble upon them, but I suspect it’s more a reward for our show of commitment to the pursuit of happyness than anything else.
It’s rare, unimaginable… for an artist to achieve such soul and depth with every song on a project, much less at first attempt…but then again, he’s an Ayigbe boy so…
So many things amaze me about this man. For one thing, he’s meticulous in arranging melody…and the rap just keeps coming, and he’s excellent on every beat, even indigenous rhythm, which is tedious to manoeuvre. And as a listener, it’s one of the best gifts –to feel like time has stopped while you’re absorbing God.
Edem raps in Ewe, EL raps in pidgin, I’m enchanted by them both. I have never, however, seen anyone put these languages side by side…not in this way. These languages, through which Worlasi primarily thinks, complete his identity –Ewe is what this world was introduced to him in. It’s the language through which he noticed care, a mother, play, scolding and a father’s punishment, sleep… In most of West Africa, Pidgin is the language of youth, and discovery, and through which individual conscience is moulded. It’s a more effective medium through which to explore life at twenty-something…because it is a mix of many languages, and it’s the best metaphor of what the average twenty-something has been through. That’s why his monologue is full of philosophy.
Nusɛ is strange and daring, because Worlasi’s words contain a courage and honesty, hope and covered reality.
The music on Nusɛ is original, deliberate, layered, practical, truthful, and definitely several paces ahead of what everyone else is doing right now. His rap is dexterous, his singing evokes feeling, and he’s fearless in choosing to speak in Ewe, which is accurate identity, but might be risky all the same.
In Worlasi’s sound, everything is happening at once, just as happens in Makola…just like life speaks to us. The composure this quality requires is insane. However, when you’ve been obedient enough to the spirits you hear in your head, and are patient enough to program them one at a time (as Worlasi has done here), then you’ve achieved genius. In music, genius is when we hear and are enthralled by something new, no matter how many times a song is repeated; Hallelujah Jesu, Unlooking, Freedom, Wake Orp…
Influence is the best homage. What a true creative makes from influence is a treasure. That is specifically what Nusɛ typifies. And the young man has been influenced by everyone and everything –FOKN Bois, Skillions, C-real, EL, Yaa Amponsah, Adowa, Agbadza, Nkrumah, Jesus, spoken word, everyday…life, basically. I know it’s what’s every artist says, but Worlasi is different, I’m telling you.
It’s not enough for an influence to choose you…the broth you make from it is what gives your voice audacity and reverence.
As a young head, he’s doing what young heads are supposed to do: asking questions. Asking questions is how we process life, yet, we are especially drawn to his approach at unpacking life because of his diction. His words are raw and unpretentious. These fundamental questions he asks, are asked in a way that’s more specific than we are used to. We all have these puzzles running through our minds; what’s our real place out here? What is our role? How do we navigate carnality to something truer, something higher? What do we make of the concept of “one day”? Why aren’t we assisting another to “ get in touch with his or her soul”, like the little boy says in Intro? “We are shapeless spirit forms … “the spirit is here for something greater/ being something greater/ something greater that can help another/ we are born that way…”
I confess, to my shame, that I too have not known Worlasi’s work for long. I came across Nusɛ when it was first released in May last year, but I ignored it. New artists usually don’t have my attention because they all want to brag like Sarkodie (sorry, rap), or, their music is fundamentally a terrible imitation of Nigerian and American rappers…so I couldn’t be bothered about this Ayigbe man who held a shackles on another him in the sitting room with the old tv and family pictures. The image is instructive; we are our own slaves, we are our own masters. Still, I wouldn’t fall for it.
My God, how stupid that was! I know for sure, that if I had heard Nusɛ a year ago, my life would be significantly less directionless. But it’s never too late, He says it himself in Someday: “ ebi late, ebi late/ it’s never too late…”
Six Strings shared a link of Worlasi’s latest single on his timeline. The song, One Life, features himself, with whom the girls are bonding emotionally because of Sobolo (which is someway), as well as Sena Dagadu, whose tone is sunlight. It’s where I finally shook hands with Worlasi. Of course this interaction took me back to everything else he has previously done, hence Nusɛ.
One Life is for reflection, it should be heard in solitude, for silence and slow tears are a natural response. It’s gentle in tempo, so it should not be absorbed in a rush. The string contribution in the song is beautiful and has just as much a voice. The use of silence, and the manner in which the rap both admonishes to live a more appreciative life and questions fundamental logic at the same time is a marvel to observe.
We all have been enamoured by the art which is One Life since it was released yesterday. But I have extra catching up to do, when it comes to Worlasi, so I’m grazing on Nusɛ first.
I love the sound of a good pound in music, and an anger in delivery, so definitely, Hallelujah Jesu is, in my opinion, the highest point of this mixtape. But definitely, every other track on there is superior for various reasons: Freedom (ft. Poetra Asantewaa) is so powerful, Black Man continues to hammer on the real place of the obibini in the world space: “black or white, the blood stays red/ black or white, brain dey your head” . What should make up beauty? Is it make-up, for instance? Hey says you can’t mess with an Ayigbe man. Wake Orp says “allow me to reintroduce myself”, Focus, Some Day predict what happens if we don’t relent, and so on…Hell, even Intro should be part of every child’s morning ritual.
He’s singing, he’s rapping, he’s playing, he’s programming. He’s something special.
The rhythm in which majority of the project comes in, is noteworthy. It’s homage to the roots of our sound, but at the same time, of contemporary worth. The space between past and present is how a perfect future comes about. Worlasi exists in that realm.
The way I felt when I heard Nusɛ, the way I feel when I hear One Life, is strange. Everyone who hears Nusɛ becomes a stalker too. Take Lynna for instance…this is what she texted to him when she stumbled upon his music one day:
“Found you on the weird part of YouTube. Then stalked you on soundcloud. Now making Sunday Jollof with my friends thinking how great your songs are!!!! Bless you.”
Nusɛ is Ewe, and translates as “inner strength”. It’s out there on the internet. It’s still available for download.
For free. For free!
It’s important you get it now! God, this Ayigbe boy is great!
@myershansen on Twitter