Ayra Starr’s 19 & Dangerous is about Self-Awareness & Reflection – Aanuoluwa Odole

TLR's Top Afrobeats Album of 2022

What is the end of a year without a list? Trust The Lagos Review to hook you up with some new writing about some of the music albums that gave this year its oomph. Read Aanuoluwa Odole’s take about on Ayra Starr’s 19 & Dangerous original and deluxe albums.

Ayra Starr is unapologetic, assertive and unashamedly herself on her debut studio album, 19 and Dangerous. With 11 songs, the album is produced by Grammy-nominated London, the legendary Don Jazzy and Louddaaa. Ayra is credited as Oyinkansola Sarah Aderibigbe, songwriter alongside her brother, Oluwadamilare Aderibigbe. 

The album title suggests her readiness for stardom, and in an interview for OkayAfrica, she described the album as “chapter one”. Ayra divides the album into three phases which she titled Wild and Free, Vulnerable and Self-assured. 

What makes this album outstanding is seen in how Ayra captures the defiance and introspection of the universal Gen Z experience while keeping the stories personal with songs like ‘Cast’ and ‘Toxic’ is .  The album presents Ayra as courageous and tender, as she bounces from dance tracks (like ‘Fashion Killer’) to hypnotizing tunes (like ‘In Between’ and ‘Beggie Beggie’). 

Ayra Starr
Ayra Starr

19 and Dangerous is not just a story of positive conviction and confidence but one of self-awareness and reflection. Ayra shines with her alluring vocals, delivering a superb debut project and laying a more than stable foundation for what’s to come.

The 16 track 19 and Dangerous (Deluxe) was released in October, 2022. Deluxe versions give albums a new lease of life. This is exactly what this Deluxe version accomplishes. Most deluxe albums come across as a way of garnering more streams, but it is hard to conclude that was Ayra’s intention with this project. For one, only a quarter of the new songs feature a chart-topping mainstream artist. With 4 new tracks ‘Ase’, ‘Running’ with Lojay, ‘Rush’ and ‘Skinny Girl Anthem’ with Kayykilo, a refix of ‘Lonely’ with Zinoleesky and a remix of her hit single ‘Bloody Samaritan’ with Kelly Rowland, Ayra remains non-conforming to the status quo.

19 and Dangerous Deluxe is genre-defying with elements of R&B, Trap, Alté, Amapiano, Jazz and Afrobeats, making it a quintessential pop album and in the male-dominated Nigerian music industry, Ayra cements her presence. Her priority is storytelling, placing each new track appropriately in the three phases. There is an admirable intentionality in the presentation of this album; from the album art (a bolder reimagination of the previous) to the catchy and resounding lyrics, the new features, her clear vocals and enunciation and the fiery ‘Ase’ written solely by her.

Ayra is not overly concerned with the transition between songs and so sonically, the album comes across as a collection of singles. Regardless, what it lacks in seamless flow, it makes up for with thematic cohesiveness and lyrical prowess. There is a synergy between the melody and lyrics.

The message is clear; she wants you to listen and be transfixed. If you didn’t get it from the standard album, now you must with the deluxe version: 19 and Dangerous (Deluxe) is a reminder that Ayra is multifaceted; wild, free, vulnerable and self-assured.

***Aanuoluwa Odole is an avid lover of most forms of entertainment, particularly romantic genres and music by black women.

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