Along with other Nigerian musicians of this generation, CKay sits at the forefront of the Afrobeats canon, broadening Fela Kuti’s imagination of the music’s potential and the ever-expanding scope of the African music personage. Afrobeats owes much of its success outside of Nigeria to its diaspora which, through their unwavering support of Nigerian music culture in varying spaces around the world, have shun a light on a colorful and sonorous African identity. This success underpins Nigerians’ vibrant spirit and their devotion to their culture. The release of CKay’s debut album Sad Romance then becomes an exciting moment for Nigeria and by extension, the entire African continent.
CKay’s debut single ‘Nkechi Turn Up’ was released in 2016 and his first project #WTFiCKay EP the following year. Over the years the singer-songwriter has tapped into different parts of his musicality, taking an engaged approach in his music as a writer, producer, and performer in many of his projects. On Sad Romance, he holds producing credits on half the songs including ‘Emiliana’ and ‘love nwantiti’, two of his biggest singles to date.
As a body of work, Sad Romance accentuates a more self-possessed, emotionally disparate CKay who goes back and forth between loving and unloving. The album is a personal story wherein CKay thinks back to his most impactful romantic relationships, showing how he has often given and received love. The delicacy with which he approaches lyric, composition, and singing helps him tell a convincing and compelling story and highlights just how contemplated and intentional this work is.
The album boasts 12 tracks which vary in feel, rhythm, and motive. Where ‘you’, the opening track, is successful in how it merges R&B, Afrobeats, and Amapiano and exhilarating seduction, track two, ‘Mmadu’ returns to a more orthodox afrobeat formula – listen here. With Track 3, CKay calls on Post Malone producer, Charlie Handsome, to deliver an emo-Afrobeat tour-de-force with ‘leave me alone followed immediately by ‘you cheated, I cheated too,’ which boasts a paired back, pop-influenced energy. The story then progresses into one of reciprocal harm with ‘soja’ and ‘come close’ as direct thematic annexures dovetailing into ‘WATAWI,’ the refrain being a perfect encapsulation of the turmoil plaguing complicated relationship dynamics, underpinning the album thesis. CKay then moves on to a duet with Cape Verdian vocalist Mayra Andrade on ‘Samson & Delilah, speaking on toxicity in relationships and the pair teeter-totter over their passionate, undying flame. ‘by now,’ the penultimate track, moves the audience gently towards the other side of pain and heartbreak, as the album closes off with ‘lose you’ featuring French darling, Ronisia, which ushers us into ‘love Nwantiti (bonus),’ an orchestral arrangement of his sensational global hit, where the story behind the album began.
In a recent Instagram post the superstar has expressed how stunned he is at his own success, reflecting on ‘how big, small beginnings can become’. For CKay, Sad Romance is a diary entry, which touches on many parts of his experiences and is sonic universe where ‘sad boys worldwide’ unite. But, more interestingly, Sad Romance is CKay’s proposition of Africa’s potential, possibility, and ability to hold space and assume its posture as a now-continent.
From October 1st CKay will be headlining his first solo North American and European tour, the Sad Romance Tour. The tour will kick off in The New Parish, Oakland, California, giving fans an opportunity to connect and experience the album together.