They’ve appeared here together before, but it was with so many others last time we might not have noticed…
Alfred Soto: An arrangement that startled my ears: flippy-floppy drums and vocodered vocals gives the track an aqueous feel. Consider it thicker Corinne Rae Bailey or smoother Kelis and you’ve got a second listen.
Katherine St Asaph: The slippery vocal processing and nocturnal-yet-not-stagnant production, like being submerged underneath rapids, remind me of nothing more than peak Dawn Richard. A very high bar.
Jonathan Bradley: There’s so much going on here, and all of it is good. “If I Start to Talk” opens with a funk groove, a ’70s soul bassline brought into the present by the very contemporary R&B phrasings with which Tiwa Savage and Dr. SID imbue their vocals. They trade lines back and forth, harmonizing and then countering one another, the Auto-Tune sweetening rather than contorting their parts. They have great chemistry, and it lays the groundwork for the swell of the chorus, that sees Savage and SID urge one another on, a brilliant fanfare unfurling before them.
Leonel Manzanares: An impressive exercise of melodicism and flow. Yes, that swinging, late-night beat is an aural treat, but Tiwa and SID’s exchanges are the big story here. The rhythmic directions they take enhance every single lyrical motif, and their Auto-Tuned voices melt together almost perfectly. By the time the chorus hits, the horns and the the harmonies feel like a mere coronation.
Madeleine Lee: Like a perfume, this song takes a bit to warm up and settle in, but once it does it gives off a soft, lush atmosphere that lingers.
Claire Biddles: A pleasant-enough summery bop that’s elevated in the last minute by overlapping Auto-Tuned vocals and horns, transforming the standalone brashness of the sounds to a warm, layered cocoon.
Jonathan Bogart: I try not to pay close attention to Nigerian music whenever I dip into African pop, not because it’s not great, but because it’s too great — it would be tempting to only pay attention to Nigeria and never listen to anyone else. This brilliant song and even more brilliant video is a case in point: drawing from the best of modern American R&B, Jamaican dancehall, and Nigerian Afrobeat (not that in 2016 the three are entirely separable) in roughly equal measures to make a statement of personal pride that also functions as a statement of crew pride, of ethnic pride, of national pride, and of racial pride. Just as it would be easy to sink into Nigerian pop and ignore the rest of Africa, music like this makes it tempting to sink into African pop and ignore the rest of the world.