Idris Lawal's new project Young, Black & Blue EP is an 8 track body of work that explores the Toronto based act's life as a young man with roots in Nigeria and his many experiences living in three different continents. After teasing us with two solid singles, the reflective "Gung Ho" and the vibrant drunk-in-love jam "Fools", Lawal brings it full circle with the release of the project.
The project opens up with the slick guitar plucks of "Drop" where he examines himself and what it means to be black. He delivers a confident performance with his off-beat sing-songy style and reflects on why his race rubs some folks the wrong way with lines like "...Neighbors wanna call the cops again, 'cos my color makes me complicit/don't make sense, don't make commas mayne...". "Drop" is a solid opener and lends its strength to the EP with its direct message and Afrocentric production. This is followed by two laid back solemn tracks, the previously released "Gung Ho" and "Medals." The moody textures and sentiments behind "Gung Ho" still resonate and sure doesn't sound out of place with the rest of the songs on the project.
"Medals" is a song Lawal started working on in 2017 right after Colin Kaepernick’s 2016 protest and is also inspired by racism in sports. He parallels the struggles black athletes face on the field with his own experiences and in the end, it seems the color of his skin rubs people the wrong way. Other cuts like the uplifting "Heal" and love-soaked "Omoge" really showcase the afrobeat element with the gripping percussions and layered instrumentation. "Omoge" showcases Lawal's unique writing technique as he slick talks while touring adulation to the lady that caught his eye. He is pretty subtle, unassuming but sure knows what he wants. "Heal" is the final cut and as the title suggests is Lawal's outlet for all the pain to dissolve. he knows he can't control or change everything but at least the things he can, he will endeavor to make right. Sonically, the project often flows between youthful up-tempo and bluesy down-tempo, mirroring just how quickly black people can be put through the highs and lows of life.
Young, Black & Blue EP is predominantly produced by Lawal, less "Fools" and "Heal", which were produced by longtime collaborators Kyu and Antion, with contributions from saxophonist Jelani Watson and backing vocalist Sydnee Croft.
Stream Young, Black & Blue on all DSPs here.