Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019

Niniola – Boda Sodiq

Nigerian singer makes impressive Jukebox debut…


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Anjy Ou: Niniola switches out frequent collaborator Sarz for producer Kel P, and it’s a breath of fresh air. Though I absolutely love her afro-house bangers, she was allowing the production to do most of the work, and not experimenting with her sound much. Kel P livens up the standard house bassline with juju drums and highlife guitars, and Niniola captivates with her vocal performance instead of just coasting through on her velvety tone — switching from demanding, to pleading, to teasing while taking the listener along on her drunken night out. Absolutely not the height of her talents (that would be “Saro” for me), but an excellent addition to her discography, and she can only get better from here on out.
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Pedro João Santos: As with some of the highlights (“Bale”) in This Is Me, the template is “Maradona”‘s circular afro-house, now rebuilt in filigree: it’s less vibey, more agile, peppered with extra sweetness. The outcome is bespoke summer nectar — a sad conclusion for who’s getting their hands on “Boda Sodiq” just now, in September. It’s good for now, however, if it’s leading to an album, the templates should become less conspicuous.
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Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa: A maelstrom of rhythmic delicacies. It’s azonto and afrobeats, of course, but it also echoes turn-of-the-millenium Latin house in meaningful ways (the patterns of her vocal melody, for example, make this song feel like a not-so-distant cousin of both the guaguancó revival and Brazilian batucada). The highlife guitars are the cherry on top, and there’s even a sprinkle of guitarra criolla there as well. 
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Jessica Doyle: I disapprove of the decision to treat her voice as the least trustworthy instrument, and approve of everything else.
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Kylo Nocom: Even with a language barrier, any listener could hear the anxiety lying under those calls of “will you promise me not to touch?” and “what happened in your boys’ quarters?” Those lines are essential: various media responses indicate that “Boda Sodiq” is about withdrawn consent. The video illustrates the narrative of the track: Niniola is taken to Boda Sodiq’s home drunk, but is left alone after she falls asleep. The awful terror remains: why did he take her home in the first place? How can she know what happened to her? Her vocals betray this hurt confusion through ascending melodies, rhythmic phrases, and beautiful croons, none of which provide resolution. Kel P’s airy production pulls at a tension that Niniola breathes in, a constant synth pulse underpinning lighter riffs. A song that was once musically radiant becomes an anxious constancy with its context, shifting from sound to sound without landing on anything stable enough to land securely. This is brave dance music, unafraid to call out a horrible issue and attempt to deliver an important message to so many. But I still can’t unhear this as anything other than remarkably, remarkably sad at its core.
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Isabel Cole: Grabbed me immediately for the golden-clear vocals swimming through a spaciously lush arrangement that moves without hurrying; closer attention rewards the listener by revealing the intricacy of a construction that never feels cluttered, as careful details float into notice (the thrumming note held at the beginning; the synths jutting out near the end). Trying to capture the sonic vibe that I found so arresting I was circling around something like haunting warmth???, and got curious about whether understanding the lyrics might clarify what I was hearing; the translation some googling turned up suggested “haunting,” at least, was in the right direction and left me in the curious position of being more impressed by the song while also wondering whether my ability to enjoy its groove was in this case increased by my need to rely on a translation. Well, both aspects point to the song’s success.
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