It’s difficult to find any music that sounds similar to that of Obongjayar. The Nigerian-born artist who now resides in London has returned with a spellbinding new single entitled “Frens.” His music has never been easily described, from his debut EP Home from 2016 to his appearance on the Mercury Prize-nominated project Everything Is Recorded from Richard Russell. The new single continues to push boundaries as he continues to cultivate his signature sound that exists in a world of its own.
From the outset, there’s an underlying rhythmic tension to “Frens,” which Obongjayar inhabits with ease as his vocals venture effortlessly through the frenetic drum patterns. His steady delivery amid busy instrumentals reflects the song’s theme, which he describes as “a tribute to unconditional friendship – being there for your loved ones and not being afraid to let them know they’re loved.” The song’s message is communicated particularly saliently at one point where he writes, “I never want to see you cry, I only want to see you shine / whichever way it swings, I’ll be by your side.” It’s a song about friendship like none you’ve ever heard before, with the combination of Obongjayar’s mesmerizing, impassioned vocals and heavily percussive instrumentals. “Frens” may not fit nicely in a categorical box, but for a musician like Obongjayar, the beauty of his artistry lives in its unabashedly authentic originality.