By the time pop act Iyanya and the Ubi Franklin fronted Made Men Music group formally announced their separation, the gist was already an industry open secret. What Iyanya did next was the surprising move. He joined forces with the almighty Don Jazzy and committed to a contract with Mavin records.
Up to Something, the first fruit of this union was somewhat of a return to form for Iyanya who had built a successful career making disposable pop records that aimed straight for the top of the charts. Featuring a serviceable guest turn from Dr Sid, as well as a vocal run from Don Jazzy, Up to Something reinforced the hit making abilities of both Don Jazzy and Iyanya with its catchy chorus and simple, call to dance verses.
Signature The EP, is Iyanya’s first body of work since his third album, the underwhelming Applaudise released in 2015. Truthfully, save to introduce him as a Mavin, and keep his name on the mouth of fans, it is hard to see what other ways Signature helps advance Iyanya’s narrative, or career.
Up to Something remains the top record on the eight track CD but Hold On, an innuendo drenched ballad that isn’t quite sure what messaging to project comes quite close. Hold On features a self-assured Iyanya doing the kind of mid-tempo R&B that comes naturally to him, the kind that constituted a mainstay of his music before he bulked up and discovered how to smack his lips. He isn’t above borrowing trends from nearby Ghana for his lyrics, I know you wan chop Banku, he drawls at some point.
Speaking of, the disc’s opener, Odo Ye Wu is imported almost wholesale from next door, to the eternal frustration of Mr Eazi, surely, who has claimed first digs on hybridizing these kinds of sounds. Bow For You and Baby Answer continue the mid-tempo waist shaking, dance floor calling sure bet that Iyanya and D’tunes perfected unwittingly, back when they made Kukere.
Don Jazzy continues his mentorship of producers Baby Fresh and Altims by letting them do all the heavy lifting on Signature EP. Baby Fresh takes most of the fast tempo portions while Altims shows his mettle in mellower records like Nobody has to Know and Not Forgotten (with new Mavin signing, Poe). If Hold On is a bit coy about its intentions, Nobody has to know goes the opposite route, accommodating baritone whispers, lust induced moans, and refrains of wet wet wet. Hint: has nothing to do with the rains.
Not forgotten is a tribute to loved ones gone too soon- Iyanya’s mum and ‘’homies we lost’’- that starts out shaky and ends before it can really build into something satisfying emotionally.
Signature EP would be quite disappointing if Iyanya had been in the habit of making solid albums by himself. But he hasn’t done that in a long while and so the disc easily places itself- flaws and all- as the finest thing he has done in a long, long time. The bar may be low but the formula does makes for a satisfying listen.
Album Name: Signature (The EP)
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