A couple of weeks ago, I was locked in a studio with a guy from another music publication. I was acting like I was okay, but deep down, the AC was too cold for the short-sleeved shirt I was wearing. I’m a hard guy though, and hard guys don’t ask people to reduce the AC.

cold cardi b GIF

We were there for an early listening of Ayra Starr’s debut album — 19 and Dangerous. Tope, my guy who invited me to the listening, gave us a quick background to the album. It’s unusual for a newcomer to drop an album so quickly in their career. It’s been barely six months since we heard her self-titled debut EP.

“The idea is for her to put out a body of work that represents who she is right now. She has a large bank of music and we wanted to give a fair view of where she’s at mentally right now because in a short while, she’s going to evolve past the level she is right now.” 

Cool stuff bro, but this AC is too cold.

He clicked the mouse of the shiny Mac desktop and the music started to waft into the room from the hidden speakers.

The first song started off slow, with a quote about how life isn’t really problematic and how we’re the ones that are carrying the world on our heads. The song is called Cast and it’s the jam you sing when you have just 2k left in your account and it’s only the middle of the month and you want to buy double sausage shawarma. 

If I cast, then I cast. 

Anything wey wan sup go sup.

It’s a real jam and a solid opener to Ayra’s first album.

But if you’re looking for a song to vibe to while you’re heading to a link-up, Fashion Killer

is the one. That’s the one that comes up on the radio and everybody goes “Ayyyyyyyyyy.” In it, Ayra is telling you that in this fashion game, she’s nobody’s mate, and she might just be right. When she was 16, she started a fashion line (which she abandoned for music when Don Jazzy signed her, because who no like better thing?)

The next song on the album is Lonely. It’s an odd song to follow Fashion Killer because how can you be shouting how you’re a happening babe in Fashion Killer and then go on to be telling somebody that you’re lonely? Still, it’s a great song to send to that man that you’ve been missing. But if you’re a bad bitch, don’t let them hear you singing it. Bad bitches don’t miss anybody.

As Toxic, the next song on the album started to play, Tope told me that it was the song Don Jazzy heard that made him go, “Ahan, this girl can sing o” before sending her a DM to sign her to Mavin. 

By this point in the album, I’d already forgotten that cold was catching me. Everyone in the listening studio was vibing nicely.

The next track plays and it’s titled Bloody Samaritan. This is clearly the real Starr (see what I did there?) of 19 and Dangerous. The whole album is a vibe, and in this song, she starts by telling us she’s feeling vibes on vibes. Me sef gan, as I was listening to it for the first time, I was feeling the vibes.

Bloody Samaritan is a certified club banger. That’s the first thing that comes to my mind in this cold studio. If not for home training, I wanted to start dancing right there and then.

This track marks Ayra’s position as one of the shining stars of the next generation, cementing her place among the new age musicians like Rema, Ruger, and Omah Lay. I can’t wait to see how her music evolves over the next couple of years.


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