On “Playboy”, Fireboy foregoes trademark dexterity for commercial resurgence. Perhaps the most acclaimed mainstream artiste of his generation, Fireboy DML is the quintessential “album act”.
His debut, ” Laughter, Tears and Goosebumps” is widely regarded as the best debut album by a Nigerian artiste in the last 20 years.
His sophomore record, ” Apollo”, while not having hit singles like his debut, was well-received by critics for its experimentation and introspective songwriting. The album went on to do well commercially as a body of work, not as a follow up to its singles. “Apollo” is therefore important for many reasons. For today, however, it is the album in which the motivations of ” Playboy” lie.
Album opener ” Change” is a nod to new boundaries broken with the international hit single, ” Peru”. “Playboy” and ” Timoti” are swaggering tributes to his new-found hedonism.
As far as collaborations go, the appearances are stellar. Rema and Chris Brown deliver note-perfect verses on ” Compromise” and ” Diana”. Sheensea and Euro are adequate on their respective tracks.
There are moments of brilliance on this record too. “Bandana” featuring Asake might be the year’s best collaboration; “Ashewo” while banal, is incredibly catchy; and “Glory” is a blistering closer to the album.
Amongst these gems are problems, however. “Afro-Highlife” is sonically rewarding, but if the foundation is destroyed, even the talented are doomed. The song’s name is far too distracting, and the song simply cannot make up for it.
“Havin’ Fun” is a middling attempt at reggae that comes off as more mimicry than experimentation. Songs like “Adore” and “Sofri” are cute numbers but stand at the tail end of his discography. As hinted earlier, it is easy to see why “Playboy” was a necessary follow-up to “Apollo”.
Fireboy probably needed to re-establish his presence as a viable singles artiste and capitalize on the success of his lead single, “Peru” (note the inclusion of both versions of the song).
The results really depend on how you look at it. Playboy will likely be Fireboy’s most commercially successful record, but it is also his weakest.
Both sacrifices and revenue have been made. Fireboy’s artistry might have taken a hit, but his career is right on track.