By the time December 2022 swung around, there was very little doubt that YBNL newcomer Asake had been the most propulsive voice in Afropop in a year that had seen the genre turn decisively on its head. Asake’s run from earlier in the year, after the breakout of his Olamide-assisted “Omo Ope” led to the release of his enchanting debut album Mr. Money With the Vibe, established crowded vocals, futuristic percussive elements and iridescent amapiano-Fuji fusions as the new framework of Afropop while minting hits like “Sungba”, Terminator”, “Peace Be Unto You” and “Organise”.
Keen to keep his momentum going and further the narrative of his blistering come-up, Asake’s sophomore album, Work of Art, coming less than a year after his debut, presents an artist operating at a nearly peerless level. With production still majorly helmed by Magicsticks, the template remains largely the same, but the scale of ambition is stratospheric as Asake aims to present his music as high art.
Switching between effervescent live arrangements, jaunty hip-hop-adjacent beats and classic African samples, the air on Work of Art is celebratory and zestful, with the singer’s compelling blend of Yoruba panegyrics and urban slang adding colour to songs like “Sunshine” and “Basquiat”.
In a throwback to his Ololade Asake EP, label boss Olamide makes the only guest appearance here, contributing a standout verse on “Amapiano”. Still, mostly alone, Asake continues to take inspiration from his journey, spreading himself far and wide to channel bleary-eyed optimism on “Lonely at the Top” and hope on “I Believe”. Across these 14 songs, Asake invites us into his new reality and tells his story in vivid Technicolor.