Cover art for ‘Popstar’

 

Over the years, Bella Alubo’s sound has evolved, counting from the date the singer, songwriter and formerly, rapper, released her first EP, BELLA: The EP back in 2015. Being the experimental artist that she is, she’s never been one to shy away from leaving her lyrical imprint about love and sensual desires over a range of sounds.

With her music being more grounded in the genre of Hip-Hop in the early stages of her career, her more recent projects have seen her venturing towards a distinctive Afro-pop sound, birthed by her fourth project, re-BELLA. The 2018 EP served as Alubo’s re-introduction to the world as a matured singer with a newly refined sonic palette.

Last month, she released her first single of the year, Gbolahan and now, she’s back with her new EP, Popstar. On the four-track project, the artist, as expected, showcases her diversity, further reaffirming that she certainly isn’t a one trick pony and she definitely doesn’t have her sights set on being boxed into a category.

In her own words, as she shared on Instagram prior to the release of the EP,  “I don’t want a niche, I want the entire market. I wanna be a popstar.” And that’s exactly what she’s aimed for with this new project. 

Over a mix of Afro-house, Afro-pop and Dancehall instrumentals, she teases and professes her love to her muse(s) while singing about wanting all the finer things in life, with the combined boldness of a femme fatale who’s guided by her purpose of self-satisfaction and the charm of the endearing, girl next door.

The EP opens with La La Land, an upbeat, Tuan Malik produced record about living in a fairytale world which is nothing without Alubo’s lover by her side.

It’s followed by lead single, Gbolahan, a more mellow song directed towards a muse who wants to get closer to the singer. She flirtatiously entertains his romantic invitation as she sings, Dark shades on, know you can see me, know I’m finer than the last time you saw me.”

This perfectly flows into the next track, Pretty Things. Reminiscent of Ariana Grande’s 2019 hit, 7 Rings, it’s a mid-tempo joint which finds the artist singing about her penchant for luxuries like Gucci and Prada over Dancehall instrumentals. 

The project closes with Gba Gbe (Motive). Much like the opening track, it’s the perfect dance track to get you yearning to dance the night away with a lover or crush as Bella Alubo sings “Baby come and hold me tight, on the dancing floor moving with the disco light.” The Kanibeatz produced, Afro-house beat hoists the sensual essence of the song, taking it to ethereal heights.

Popstar is undoubtedly a good body of work, although it’s not mind-blowing or groundbreaking much like Bella Alubo’s earlier discography. It’s great to listen to in the moment but not particularly memorable or bound to be timeless.

But with four songs, the EP doesn’t need to be. For one, there’s only so much that can be done in the space of 11 minutes. Secondly, the project can simply and thoroughly be enjoyed for what it is – a part-sentimental, part-hedonistic, feel-good, extended soundtrack created for you to sway to and get temporarily lost in.

Bella Alubo’s talent has always been evident and she’s grown throughout her musical journey, which is applaudable considering the commitment and self-investment required to improve and evolve with the times. She may not have the exceptional project or chart-topping records needed to cement her place in the contemporary Afro-pop space just yet. There’s however no doubt that with the offerings on Popstar and her effortless ability to alternate her sound as she so chooses, she’s destined to fully evolve into the shining star she promises to be, in the near future.

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