As Ckay, born Chukwuka Ekweani, releases his debut album, Sad Romance, into the sea of songs now present in the Nigerian music landscape, the wait is done and the surge of anticipation has subsided. The emo-afro maestro combines his skill as a songwriter and his seductive melodies to narrate his journey through intimate relationships in the album.
His most recent body of work veers away from the sound that has been associated with him and leans more toward soul music, R&B, jazzy Afrohouse, and even the well-known amapiano subgenre. He reveals himself throughout the record to be both a playboy and a sucker for love. The musician has perfected the intentionality with which eliciting emotions through his music. He has embraced his new sound from throughout the years since his significant transformation from when he released his hit single Container.
The 12-track album brings together thematic content and instrumentation that bear the might to catch your attention for the entirety of the album’s thirty-eight minute duration, with vocal support from notable artists like Davido, Ronisia, Focalistic, Abidoza, and Mayre Andrade. Top hits by Ckay from the album include Watawi, Emiliana, and his worldwide hit, Love Nwantiti.
You, a forerunner to Sad Romance, centers on the idea of toxic love. The song has a nice and tranquil vibe thanks to Ckay’s well-known musical style and the amapiano style, which is tapped into the beat. His second verse narration serenades the music while he delivers a strong hook and chorus, demonstrating his still-impressive compositional prowess. The somber saxophone, violin, and log drum that play throughout the song capture Ckay’s emotions and make it seem as though he is sincere in all he says.
Mmadu has high-caliber production, as evidenced by the keys, saxophones, and basslines that jive with one another. Like a follow-up to You, Ckay raves on in this song about how he and his beloved are meant to be together. He uses his exquisite language to aim for more than just a goal with his sweetheart while yapping about his belief in them and expressing how he would “chop am like salad.” When he says, “I see through your see through,” the humor in his lyrics and pretty inventive use of words are on full display.
While Ckay has demonstrated his passion of love, Leave Me Alone demonstrates that even loving boys have the option of choosing who and when to fall in love. He asks, “Is there someone else/ if I told you no, I’d be lying to myself. One lovely quality of musicians like Ckay is the way they can make any song seem to be about love. In this track, the vocalist drags us along with his seductive voice and guides us into yet another song with a playboy concept.
You Cheated, I Cheated Too, a fitting song for a playboy’s sore excuse, slides into our ears thanks to Ckay’s chilly vocals. “You think say you wicked, I wicked too” The song’s brazen harmonics are lending it a timeless feel and supporting the artist’s chilly voice.
Come Close was another work of enchantment by Ckay who previously collaborated with Ayra Starr on Beggie Beggie, combining the alluring qualities of both singers. Their vocal connection and the audible sax enhance the song’s tone and follow Ckay’s line, “Say you get-i boyfriend, e no be my concern.”
Featuring South African Focalistic and Nigerian Davido is the amapiano-influenced song Watawi. Ckay and Davido’s magic on La La is once more replicated in Watawi. Despite Ckay’s emo sound being all over the track, the artists work together to create an upbeat amapiano smash as they relentlessly pursue the song’s subject of the popular lady saying, “What are we?”
The tropical-themed song Samson and Delilah by Ckay features Mayre Andrade. Now that I think about it, I wonder if the musician hasn’t gone through some sort of heartbreak that would have caused him to sing about nothing other than love. Although I don’t understand a word of Mayre Andrade’s singing in her native French, I’m sure she’s singing about love as well. In the same vein as Samson and Delilah, Lose You is a blend of sounds and cultures with its expressive and soprano layered vocals. Other love-influenced tracks from the album include Soja, By now and Emiliana.
Personally, I still don’t understand why the album includes Love Nwantiti; as of 2019, the song has received far too much airplay and remixing to be included on Ckay’s debut album. He ought to have left it hanging outside of this project; bonus track or not; it had numerous iterations and frequent replays.
Ckay has demonstrated his versatility throughout his musical career, from his growth in his first two EPs to his third EP and now his album, expressing his avid vision for afrobeats. He is not only a master singer/songwriter but also a badass producer with singing abilities that is silky and smooth.
Listen to the project below