Growing up between Cotonou in Benin and Lagos, Nigeria, Ayra Starr is the latest soul-quenching vocalist to hail from West Africa’s ever-growing talent pool. The newest Mavin Records signee is a fresh sound of 2021, at only 19 years-old she has started this year by already becoming a one to watch with the release of her self-titled EP.
One of the most fulfilling aspects of the creative industry is when the message intended is the message received. It is overly impressive that she has already honed her lyricism and production to create a soulful experience, in only the introductory song.
It is a 5-track EP, a short but wonderful introduction to the sound that is already honed by Starr, she is a woman of defiance. In the first track, Away, she is re-exploring how break-up songs are piloted, bringing courage to listeners by standing up to heartache. She explains:
“I freestyled half of ‘Away’ at a time I was feeling down. It was like therapy. Singing the song out loud was like freeing myself from my burden. ‘Away’ is not just a heartbreak song, it’s a song that empowers you to stand up to that thing or person that is causing you sadness.”
Her sound is versatile, inspired by R&B, Soul, and Afro-Pop, drawing inspiration from the 90’s aesthetic of Aaliyah and Rihanna. The mix of cultures has inspired the singer’s global tactic to become an international superstar, not only taking creativeness from known names but, from classic Yoruba and Beninese music. Nigerian artists such as 2Face and Wande Coal, have influenced her creativity, fronting the Gen-Z, fresh innovative, but inspired by acts generations older. She is someone who soaks up the energy around her to create music that speaks for young people who are finding themselves.
Each song is loving, providing the best setting for a lockdown slow whine, with someone or by yourself, it doesn’t matter. Starr is empowering young women everywhere to get what they want from love and life.
The following track, Ija starts with an adapted but favourable beat to Wizkid’s track Sweet One. Already creating an engaging commencement on a song that speaks on being loved by the one you love.
Possibly a favourable single from the 5 features, DITR, an acronym for a diamond in the rough. It is a song about the influences against young people and the struggle they have to go through. A song, guaranteed to be understood most deeply by younger generations, spotlighting issues and emotions usually disregarded by the idea of being youthful.
“She’s still your baby
Nothing has changed please
She’s only aging
Peer pressure bad ni”
Sings Starr on a bed of a soft, beating production, similar to that of the other tracks, truly displaying her undefined vocals.
The final two tracks, Sare and Memories, are similar in taking direct influences from the two cultures that Ayra Starr grew up in, creating soft afro-pop. Both love songs, reflecting on memories that do not die and having a fairy-tale love that is fulfilling. It is amazing to witness a young musician echo ever so perfectly, the effects of love, heartbreak, and change. Creating a perfect setting for the teenage experience.
The EP is a wonderful introduction to the young singer, which is astonishingly her first embodiment of work. She is one to keep an eye out for, as it is clear she will have a whirlwind of a career.