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Since she first grabbed attention for 2017’s “Ice Cream”, Nigerian singer Lady Donli has gradually grown into her taste for the eclectic. If songs like “Cash” evince her love of Igbo highlife, her earlier releases are steeped in the soul of an Erykah Badu acolyte.

Her newest release, “Suffer Suffer” sits somewhere in the middle. It’s the newest single off her soon-to-be-released debut album, the playfully-titled “Enjoy Your Life”.

The song starts emphatically, followed by backup vocals that immediately inspires a wave of afrobeat nostalgia. But where the music of Fela Kuti was militant, Lady Donli makes her point by breezing off a backdrop of Nigerian pop culture staples, literally.

The chorus gives way to a stripped-down highlife-inspired beat that Lady Donli almost totally surrenders herself too. This willingness to not take herself too seriously is brought to life in humorous detail in the official lyric video.

It depicts Donli as the star of her own movie – a take on the low-budget Nollywood home videos of the 1990s and early noughties. At different points, she appears super-imposed over iconic scenes from that era, sometimes with a bottle in her hand.

Donli’s writing is one of her biggest strengths. Her contributions to projects by Show Dem Camp, M.I Abaga and Mr Eazi in the last one year are proof. On “Suffer Suffer”, she’s understated and hides her message in plain sight.

The diversion of a breezy, yet groovy beat lets her leave cues to her belief in the divine feminine “I pray to God and she get my back“. She talks her decision to leave home for music, a course that has taken her farther than Lagos, the only city she mentions. And of course, she refuses the suffering that troubadours like herself are told to expect.

“Suffer Suffer” is refreshing in how it fuses familiar tidbits of Nigerian pop culture across different eras to give you cue for what Lady Donli wants you to expect on “Enjoy Your Life”. She tweeted today that there’s soul on the album too. We’re ready.

Listen to Lady Donli’s “Suffer Suffer” here.



Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.