Not only is Yemi Alade a singer/songwriter, but she is also an actress, a coach on The Voice Nigeria, a renowned philanthropist, a leader in the rise of the Afrikan feminist movement, a One Org Ambassador, and an official UN Ambassador actively seeking to make the world a better place.
The award-winner has been showing out in the past year, making an appearance in Beyonce’s mega-album ‘The Lion King: The Gift’, as well as Disney’s ‘Black is King’. Not too long after the release of her previous album Black Magic, she was nominated for various awards such as the AFRIMA for Best Female Artiste in Western Africa, the AFRIMMA for Artiste of The Year & Best Live Act. In the Soundcity MVP Awards, Yemi has been nominated for Best Female, African Artiste of the Year & Digital Artiste of the Year for 2019 & 2020, as well as Best Pop in 2019. But it was in 2019 that she won the Headies Award for Best Performer for the 3rd consecutive year.
Her smash hit “Johnny” hit over 100 million views on both YouTube and VEVO, making her the first African female afro-pop artist to have the most viewed video and 1 million subscribers on YouTube.
And Now We Introduce: Yemi Alade – Empress
True Love, which is the intro to the album, has been the foundation of many a dance video, flooding the streets of TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, spreading the feel-good energy worldwide.
If I had it my way, YOYOYO and Mami-Water would be one long song because of the flawless transition from YOYOYO’s youthful, almost innocent groove to the warning that is Mami-Water.
To briefly catch you up on Afrikan Spirituality/Mythology that inspired the latter, Mami-Wata is an African water spirit, comparable to what is called a Siren in Mid-Western spirituality/mythology. She is said to be a mermaid that governs over water, fertility, healing, physical attraction/ vanity, sexuality, money, luck, and music.
Although it varies from tribe to tribe, the story goes that Mami Wata was often spotted on the reefs just above sea-level. When she spots intruders nearby, she would flee the scene, heading back into the water, leaving her possessions behind. The intrusive sea travelers would often steal her possessions so she would pay them a visit in their dreams, requesting that her possessions be returned, in addition to them being sexually faithful to her.
And that’s how we’re surfing into the next two songs on the album – Lose My Mind and Dancina.
Lose My Mind is basically the flirting phase of a potential new romance with Mami-Water and Dancina is like the celebratory ritual of having met her, praising her beauty, and testing compatibility by way of dancing to her tune. This is where the first phase of the album ends and the second one begins.
In my analysis of Boyz, I found that this song is called Boyz and not ‘Men’ for a reason. I love it when afrobeat and pop-culture meet. The memorialization of childhood bliss and adult singlehood in this music video is evident in the visual design, colour palettes, stunning fashion choices, choreography, quirky animations, hair, and makeup.
There is some powerful visual symbology in the Boyz music video, from the many hands popping out of a wall – referring to everybody wanting and feeling entitled to a piece of Yemi. The next power move in this music video is the scene where a group of men wearing blindfolds with words of affirmation/characteristics flickering on the front, set in a pink conference room.
For me, this scene represents two things:
One being all of what she looks for in a man, and the second being all of the positive attributes that these men don’t actually see in her because they’re blinded by ideas of who she should be according to them (objectification).
I Choose You, Control, and Temptation are next on the tracklist. Lovers of ‘Don’t Jealous Me’ will really enjoy these three tunes, because they also speak on love and jealousy.
In I Choose You, it’s the organ for me. You hardly notice it at first, but when you hear it, you understand just how it elevates the song and message behind it. In Control Yemi gets feisty about just how much control she has over herself and certain situations, however, it was her vocal delivery on Temptation that really impressed me. Her voice sounds like what looking at the slice of cake you’re about to buy for yourself would feel like – tantalizing and decadent.
In Ice, Yemi is basically like the Corrinne Bailey Rae of Afro-pop – idealistic, passionate, and observant. From here on out, Yemi’s singing gets sweeter, slightly more vulnerable, edging on maternal.
Adding a spin to the narrative are Deceive and Turn Up. We’ve all encountered things that have irritated us to the point of rage, and in true Empress fashion, the aim is to stay calm enough to get through those situations.
However, when the time comes, where can we blow off the steam from the heat of Deception? A Turn-Up. Even though the instrumentation of the song has taken a more traditional approach to afrobeat, this year, we’ve honestly had no other choice but to turn up at home, with ourselves and our memories.
It’s this kind of re-rooting that makes the song Rain what it is, Zulu intro and all. This song is how Yemi reminds us that at her core she’s a humanitarian. The concept of unity doesn’t seem so far anymore. It’s a peaceful protest, a plea to the skies, driven by the choir that she is singing with.
Closing the show are Weekend and Double Double. The restoration of energy usually occurs over the weekend. I don’t know how things were done in your household but where I come from, jams like Weekend were danced to on Saturday nights, and when more traditional tunes like Double Double were played on Sunday mornings at full blast, that was our cue to wake up and clean the house.
Yemi Alade always embraces her culture, womanhood, and power in every venture that she undertakes. Her album Empress is a joyous celebration of family, friendship, romance, and support, rooted in community, collaboration, empowerment, and devotion.
Her vocals on this album are captivating although, it’s easy to get lost in the instruments. On the journey through her album Empress, we went through three phases: purity, preference, and peace, with the water element theme, carried right through the end. Much like life, each phase has its ups, downs, challenges, resolutions, and celebrations.
My overall takeaway from this album?
How you react to each phase is indicative of where it is you are in life, what it is you truly care about in that moment, and how that serves others.
With strong Empress energy, Yemi is characterized as someone who can completely and naturally fulfill her purpose by using the tools she has at hand. What makes the Empress special is that because she is so in touch with her power, she knows what it takes to create something worthwhile. She is wise, confident, calm, abundant, and intuitive, the channel between divinity and creation.