Ruby Gyang has been bubbling under nicely for a while now, first as part of M.I’s Loopy records, contributing quietly to projects from her label mates, and then as part of the extended team of Chocolate City Music acts that is also known as Choc Boi Nation.
For reasons best known to her and her management, Gyang has mostly kept a low profile, letting her talent speak of her. And this talent has always spoken volumes even when not enough people have been listening. She possesses a voice that is both big enough to sell out stadium arenas and can be modulated to power sexy, intimate performances in byte sized swanky bars.
Ruby Gyang has been the best thing in records by M.I (Remember me) and Ice Prince (Stars and lights) and on last year’s compilation collective, The Incredible Choc Boi Nation, she delivered two songs (Loose soul, No more) that proved that even in the midst of top notch talent, she remains in a class of her own.
Her debut EP, a 7 track record, titled This is love consists of gems written, performed and arranged with one intent, announcing the arrival of a major talent. If there is any justice in the world, no industry player should ever have to ask who Ruby Gyang is anymore after listening to the record.
Some of the songs on This is love have been around for some time now- Good man was released in 2014 while Down dates back a year earlier- but real stuff is recognized when they exist side by side with the new stuff and still retain the freshness that made them cult favourites upon initial release.
This is love confronts love head on; romantic love is the primary target but Gyang accommodates the other different stages of the love spectrum. Most of the output from female singers in these parts have been restricted to the woman as virtuous vessel, consigned to pledging undying love to her man, who on his own part, may or may not be behaving badly. Either that or she is the sex bomb and object of affection for drooling males from Lagos to Kafanchan. It is rare to find songs powered by a female singer that views the romantic experience from normal, simple, everyday pleasures like being spaced out. Gyang is able to upend this and pass across a different perspective on the opening number, High.
With clever song writing at her disposal, Gyang sings of the kind of heady love that is enough to cause acute confusional states. She cannot recall taking a drink or lighting up a toke but can remember the physical contact that led to her present state. Naeto C assists with a naughty verse that sits well within the song but Ruby Gyang would have carried this one without any help. At the end she goes on a vocal trail that would make some of her colleagues green with envy.
Her smoky voice is the perfect fit for the next song No No No, a soulful stunner that takes lessons from seventies American church soul. Easily the best song in show, Gyang is at home with the material and delivers it with relish, her powerful voice torching through the arrangement with all the skill of an experienced diva. One can easily picture this one being performed live.
Shakara (with new age alt kid Ajebutter 22) is a strange hybrid of House, Afrobeat and today’s pop leanings with radio airplay in mind and it works as well as it should. Nneka is right at home on the reggae, girl power love yourself anthem, Beautiful while Bez makes an already good song better with his verse on the Good man remix.
At just over 30 minutes long, This is love ends just when it starts growing on you and the only option is to hit the repeat button. With production credits from M.I, Cobhams Asuquo and Chopstix amongst others, the quality of the material isn’t exactly surprising. What surprises instead is Ms Gyang’s total and confident ownership of the record. M.I and Loopy may have kept her in the background all this while but This is Love proves without a doubt that Gyang is no back-up singer material and her place is front and center.
The EP teases and sets Gyang up as a superior talent to watch out for. If she stays true to her roots, it is safe to expect that her next project (hopefully a full length album,) will blow us all out of the water.
— Wilfred Okiche (@DrWill20)