Barry Wonder Reincarnates in Barry Jhay’s “Barry Back” EP – Udochukwu Ikwuagwu
Barry Jhay, son of fuji godfather, Alhaji (Dr.) Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, has finally dropped his debut project Barry Back. It has been a minute since his breakout single, the Antras-produced “Aiye”. That song brought him good fortune and set him ahead of his fuji-singing siblings—Barry Showkey and Barry Made—in terms of pop acclaim.
He followed up that massive song with milder hits and a hiatus before making 2020 count with the Barry Back EP. Naming his debut project after his late father is a bold statement. Barry Jhay, though blessed with the same sonorous voice as his father, is not a fuji artist. He may dabble into that territory but he is, in the main, a pop artist.
Barry Jhay understands the expectations of being the son – and possible heir – of a legend and so kicks off his EP with a direct address on the eponymous track: “dem a say I no go make am o, they say I no go be somebody, Oluwa dey my back o, sebi baba lo n so mi/tomo ba jo baba, e jowo ko kin se ese, mo jo baba mi lowo yi o…” Of course, he looks and sounds like his father, but comparing his material to that of his father is another kettle of fish.
The gospel-inspired “Ashe She” borrows from the great Sonny Okosun’s rendition of “A A She She” and traditional West-African Christian songs.
It is telling that while his father infused Quranic recitations into his music, his son is borrowing from christian songs. What is crucial, however, is Barry Jay’s social consciousness especially in a pop music era.
Like his father proclaimed on the opening track of “Music Extravaganza” that “Barry is back with a new sound”, his son repeats the same sentiment on this EP. On “Music Extravaganza”, his father crowned himself king and so like a true heir, Barry Jhay shares the crown with his father on the cover art of his EP.
Barrister, his father, wasn’t only a conscious artist but had a predilection for the worldly – and oddly satisfying – company of women and money. That experience he conceptualised as ‘Tilapia’ on “Music Extravaganza” way before Mr. Eazi made his Medical assisted hit song.
Indeed, if the father could sing about heavenly desires and earthly pleasures, the son should be praised for living up to that standard. Both father and son have records talking about life (both have records titled “Aiye”). Both father and son love life, too.
“Daddy” sits uniquely on the Barry Back tracklist. It should not be confused for an ode to his father, rather it is an ode to a lady who calls him daddy. Perhaps, also an ode to ladies who love wiggling their backsides. Like his father, Barry Jhay wants a sweetie lying on his chest and dancing to his music.
Yorùbá believe in the concept of ìwà (good character). Just like his father, Barry Jhay touches on the concept on this EP. Although, not as broadly, but for an artist with only one project under his belt, this is a sign of more to come.
“Ma So Pe” is about giving praise to the Almighty for his good pleasures. Barrister also preached hardwork while understanding that favour works better: ta ba sise kekere ka sa ti rere to po repete (“Ise Loogun Ise”). Barrister understood how a poor man’s wisdom, like the scripture says, is always despised. When father talks about this on “Leso Leso L’orin Wa” (bi talika ba n soro, lenu ba lana…lo gbenu dani, ta lo fun e l’idea n too fewi?), son gives a contemporary interpretation on “Money” (my pikin must not ask me: daddy, were you joking when your mates were working?).
While Barry Jhay can pass for an R&B star, however, it wont be a misnomer to call him a fuji artist. Certainly, his father is his main influence, but it is hard to place his vocal styling: is it his father or Wande Coal?
Unfortunately, not all songs on this 9-track project are stellar as we notice on the trite “Under the Duvet”.
But to rise to his defence, has any Nigerian artist done a remarkable song titled “Under the Duvet/Blanket”? Orezi? Harrysong? But as serviceable pop tracks go, they should help push his experimentation of new sounds. It is expected that his father’s spirit continues to guide and propel his superstar dreams.