[Review] Sweetness (EP) — Sarz & Obongjayar

Adanna O
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Sarz is something of a wonder. Hard, pulsating beats with mainstream commercial appeal helped him become one of the most visible producers in Nigeria. Continued commercial success with acts like Wizkid and Niniola aided with exceptional branding, made him arguably Nigeria’s first “Producer Celebrity”.

His expansive collaborative projects with Wurld, Lojay and Obongjayar do something different, however. They prove that he is more than a producer or celebrity. He is an incredible artist.

Obongjayar is no different. To put it simply, his talent is just stunning.
Despite the “niche” peculiarities of his sound, it demands widespread attention. Calm or upbeat, Obongjayar’s music seems urgent.

His work ranges from Fela-Influenced Afrobeat on Bassey and Which Way Forward? to Bashment Pop on “Poison” and, experimental R&B on Sweetness. His Wikipedia page describes his sound as “hard to describe”. We disagree. Obongjayar’s music is simply “good”.

“Sweetness” is the brainchild of these two wonders. It is an exquisite mesh of the hard pulsating genius of Sarz and the intricate clarity of Obongjayar.

The Title track, “Sweetness” is a portal. It is smooth vintage R&B brought to life by Sarz’s grooves and Obongjayar’s soft croon. Everything about this track evokes nostalgia. It is baby-making music for eager boomers and millennials.

Fan favourite, “Gone Girl”, is perhaps the most catchy song on this EP. Its hook ” Zombie, Zombie, Zombie…Gone Girl where did you go? ” has the same “stick in your head” quality as Lojay’s line ” You win the ass cheek Ballon d’Or ” (another Sarz Co-Sign). Nigerians never go wrong with a good Zombie line and Obongjayar is no exception.
See— Fela, Fave and Burnaboy.

“If You Say” is my favourite song on the project. It is the kind of dark synth-R&B that only The Weeknd could’ve pulled off— Until now. By the time, Obongjayar croons ” If you say, I’m the one that you WANT, be sure”, I am certain of my continued fandom for the foreseeable future.

“Nobody” is interesting. It is the most upbeat and least electronic song on the project. It comes across as perhaps the most “commercial” song on the project and therein lies the flaw. It is not a bad song at all, but it feels Ill-suited to the project’s general sound and dark production. It seems a bit too far, a shift.

In all, “Sweetness” is a triumph and a wonderful showcase of Sarz and Obongjayar’s incredible artistry. A few critics have singled out its length as one flaw, claiming it should’ve been longer. I disagree. The project is a tease. A window into possibilities. A peephole into the vast sonic landscapes that await Nigerians outside Afrobeat and Afropop. With this in mind, darkness has never shined as brightly as it did on Sweetness.

Adanna O

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I will stan Waje, Omawunmi and Tiwa till my legs can’t take it anymore.

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