Since he first announced himself with “Tonight”, Nonso Amadi’s music has never been defined by his roots or particular influences.
A self taught producer and vocalist, he’s become one of the faces of the new sounds coming out of Nigeria. As the internet propels this new wave and inspires collaborations like “War”, his 2017 EP with Odunsi, Nonso Amadi has played in his lane.
He’s earned a reputation as a loverboy, mostly by capturing young adult emotions in music that blends his love for internet-era R&B with the melodies of Afrobeats, pop and soul.
The title of his new EP’, “Free” suggests liberty or release; to no longer be confined or imprisoned. It’s an interesting prospect for a reserved artist who’s carved his niche of emotive pop songs.
On “Never”, the album’s opener, Nonso shows why liberty is this project theme. Over the spacious sound of drums and airy chords, Nonso talks about the pressures of having the whole world on his shoulders and “why he’s been so shy from the start”
For one seen as a preppy pop act, it’s somewhat surprising to hear him get so vulnerable. Yet, it’s a neceasary moment from an artist who’s eager to move beyond what he’s become known for and sets the tone for the EP.
While “Free” starts on a sombre note, any fan of Nonso’s work would expect Free to have its share of love songs and they won’t be disappointed. On “Better”, he taps Simi for a stripped down ballad about making effort in relationships. “No Crime”, the album’s lead single, is Nonso Amadi in his bag, a love song that’s become a playlist staple since its release.
“Free” is glorious in the moments when Nonso Amadi gives himself the liberty to go beyond the familiar. The album’s title track, starts as just another airy R&B track before it kicks up into a more melodious take on Afro-swing. It’s fitting that on the song, he asks a lover for space to do what he wants.
On “Go Outside”, he taps the globetrotting Mr Eazi for a dynamic song that combines his love of Afrobeats with lyrics that paint him as an assured ladies man. It’s far from the delicate loverboy who shows up on the final track, “What Makes You Sure?’, a plea for his lover’s trust.
The 6-track EP is proof that Nonso Amadi is no longer afraid to create on his terms. On a project with high profile collaborators like co-producers, Juls and Spax and diverging subjects, he achieves a seamless listen that should be the precursor for a new chapter of his career.