ALBUM REVIEW: Prettyboy D-O - "Love Is War"

1 month ago

Nigerian pop artist, Prettyboy D-O dishes out his new album tagged "Love is War".

Prettyboy D-O is a singular presence in Nigeria's growing alté movement. The 14-tracks body of work features artists like Nissi, Pa Salieu, MOJO AF, and IAMDDB.

On his third studio project, Prettyboy D-O trades the all-out rage of 2020’s Wildfire with a more observational tone. “The first project, I was trying to introduce myself,” he tells Apple Music of his debut, Everything Pretty. “The second one was just rapid; I wanted you to feel my anger. On this one, I want you to know my story and understand me a bit more. It has a lot more maturity to the sound; it’s not just filled with energy and rebel music, but has a bit more thinking.”

A bold fusion of rap, punk and pop interspersed with African rhythms, Love Is War oscillates between telling a modern romantic story, and one that portrays ‘love’ as self-preservation—both for the individual and as a nation. “My plan was to not fight. We were going to make a love album,” D-O (Donald Ofik) explains. “But the way the country was—after the EndSARS protests [in late 2020]—it was like I was still fighting. My people were still fighting. It rains in my house where I live in Nigeria. It floods. No matter how much money I make, my house is going to be flooded out. We have to walk through that water in the streets. People who don't have cars, have to live through that. So I was telling my boys that nothing has changed. Nothing in Nigeria has changed. Nothing in the music industry has changed. It's still political. Most of this album was written then. It was going to be straight up just political like I'm shouting like Fela [Kuti] for my country and for my people—but I found a way to make everything in that world, be in love.” Here, he gives us an inside look into each track.

“We have a holiday in Nigeria [12 June]; MKO Abiola day. That was the day in 1996 when Abiola won the elections. This was our first democratic elections, but [the former military president, Ibrahim] Babangida came and said 'No. It's a lie. You didn't do any election.' They locked [Abiola] up. During the political protests [in 2020] I wrote this song because I was like, ‘Is this 1996? Why does it feel like 1996?’ It feels like it's those days, when it was the dictators in power. I'm not Fela [Kuti]; he spent his whole career fighting politics and stuff—but the bulls**t is too much. We started with rock and roll, guitars. I'm like we have different instrumentals for one beat. It starts with rock and roll, guitars. I even ended the song with a woman’s voice—Aisha Yesufu; she’s a very prominent female activist. I used something very powerful she said during the protests as the end of the song.”

“I was trying to do something in the same nature as ‘It Wasn't Me’ by Shaggy. I just told a story where the girl has a boyfriend, and I want the girl, and she doesn't want because she doesn't trust me. But ultimately we get each other. So it's just like a love song. All the love stories connect, and it’s the same story; you’re in a relationship or whatever, but you could better with me. You could be happier with me—why? Because me, I'm a fighter, I'm really a fighter. Love is war. I'll fight for culture, I'll fight for your love and all that. It’s the intro to the love aspects of the album.”

“This one is satirical. It's not war, but in my head, I call love, war. This is about all the politicians—from when I was young, it's the same politicians we've had in my country; the same leaders. I'm tired of it, but I don't want to go to prison. So I'm just singing about it. I'm telling them why people like me, because I'm so real about all this stuff. We're going to keep doing what we do. Keep making our money. But I don't like [the politicians’] style. They should do it like me; they should be free; be real. That's what that song is about.The interlude is like a similar vein of the song—‘Dre’s Interlude’. I wanted to do it in two ways; Afrobeats, and then the interlude is straight hip-hop. It opens with a clip from a Nollywood movie called Games Women Play.”

“This is [about] love again. But this time, the girl who I met in ‘Falling’, she's messing with me. I'm telling her, 'Let's vibe, let's chill, let's do some hanky panky—whatever us youngins do to enjoy ourselves’.”

It’s about war; how Nigeria is the jungle. We're literally living in the belly of the beast. It’s very spiritual. Nissi and I come from Port Harcourt, from River State. We all come from the south, the southeast. We come from the belly of the beast, where all these big oil companies rob our land, but they take all the money from our land. It’s a homage to where we come from, but it's still about war and the oppression that we faced.”

“This one is just for the energy—people will want to fight when they hear this one. I got the title from a classic Nigerian movie that came out in 1992, where the guy sold his soul to the devil for money, and for stuff, just to make it out of Nigeria. So the whole movie, he’s just trying to be good and he's trying to be a good man, even though he's sold his soul to the devil. It’s very spiritual.”

‘Kumbaye’ is a love song. Love is very important in my music. This time I wanted to come from an angle I've never come from before. With all the love songs, the girl has a boyfriend, so I try to woo her. It's still a fight, because at the end of the day, fights are love. I didn't want to make it look like the woman is chasing me—let me do it the old way, like a gentleman. I'm chasing the woman. It’s Afrobeat, and the interlude is R&B. I need this woman to love me—yet I'm playing on the side. I can't lie, it's kind of like a toxic album on a male perspective, but yes, it's like I'm a sideman. It's for the side men.”

“I love all my brothers and sisters, but I'm giving them advice. ‘if They Send Me’ is a popular Nigerian saying. It's like, if someone is fighting you or troubling you, you ask the person, ‘Did the devil send you? Why are you disturbing me? Who sent you?’ My mother gave me a lot of these sayings.”

I was praying—‘Lord, protect my steppings’—and I put it on my Snapchat and my Instagram. My followers are crazy; anything I do, they'll do. It went viral—Nigerian artists, British artists, all artists were [saying it]. So we went to studio. I was using drill; UK drill, Naija drill, Ghana Drill. Pa Salieu comes from Gambia. So Pa heard my hook, and I don't know if, as he heard my hook, Pa heard from his ancestors, like, 'Yo, Pa! This is it! This is the one!’ Because he spat so hard! He’s an African rebel, and I’m a rebel by heart. So we didn’t even need to talk–we both just understood.”

It’s is a love song too. It's for anybody who has a girlfriend or who is in a relationship, who is finding it hard to be faithful in that relationship.”

“Mojo and I did ‘Chop Life Crew’ in 2019; that song sort of changed our lives at that time. This is the same energy. It’s like street gospel—the hustler’s gospel. We don’t belong to ‘Broke Boy Fc [football club]’. We used to play [for] Broke Boy Fc, but now life has changed. We don’t stay there. It’s motivational speaking. All my brothers worldwide: we’re not going to belong to no Broke Boy Fc. That’s not why we came here. We came here to win. No matter the stats, no matter what they say. Broke Boys Fc is like a team, and I’m not playing [for them]. I’m playing for Chop Life Fc. I’m done with Broke Boy Fc. My contract is finished. The contract I signed with my new team; I hope it’s long. It’s satirical. It gets the people going.”

“This is real love. I'm speaking to my girlfriend, because I’ve done all the playing before that. I'm singing about faithfulness. It’s a modern day wedding banger. The name comes from a popular Nollywood actress [Sola Sobowale]. They used to call her Toyin Tomato [a nickname she got from the TV drama series, Super Story].”

“This one is advice. There's no song [on the album] where I’m actually fighting. A lot of the ‘fight’ tracks in this album, it’s more me just talking, or me giving advice like me observing. I got trust issues because of the industry; the politics of stuff within the industry. I'd rather just hustle, because first of the month, my rent is due, so I really got trust issues. I’m not trying to be a fighter; I’m just trying to give my observations, of everything that we've gone through; I can only give my own advice and I lead by my own example. The most important thing at the end of the day is we have to eat. We can make as many friends as we want, but I got trust issues. I'd rather just eat. I make sure my mother is eating.”

“I've not recorded as much music as I recorded the week of Nigeria's EndSARS protest. I would record several songs a day. And the first two days, all the songs were serious. Then my boys were like, ‘Yo, all these songs are serious; everything is the same’. So I was like, ‘Let me try something else.’ So I thought of the game I used to play as a kid. In America, they call it Cops and Robbers; in Nigeria we call it Police and Teef. It’s like you're being chased. But why are they chasing me? I'm not a criminal. So they can't chase me for being a criminal. So what can [they chase me for] that'll be funny? What if I got a girl, and her boyfriend wants to fight me? Like Jerry Springer. It's crazy. We dropped this on Valentine’s Day [2021]. Because I remember Jerry Springer—somebody, when they want to fight, they'll be chasing the person around the stage. So I wrote the whole thing about how boyfriends are chasing me like Police N Teef. And that's how the song came about.”


Lyrics - 3/5

Production - 4/5

Performance - 4/5


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