In 2019, YBNL Records released a little-known musician’s debut single, ‘Jealous’. Fireboy DML, also known as “durag boy” would follow this well-received single with a classic debut, Laughter, Tears and Goosebumps (LGT), ten months later. The songs on LGT merge crisp penmanship and smooth melodies to address matters of the heart and societal issues.
Fireboy released his sophomore album, Apollo in the next year. With Apollo, Fireboy’s status as one of Nigeria’s best songwriters was incontestable. Apollo is the Greek and Roman god of sunlight, prophecy, music, and poetry. He explores these different sides on the LP and garnered local critical acclaim. Fireboy did not attain the international acclaim his rival Rema achieved.
A bit of back story: having lost the controversial Headies’ Next Rated Award to Rema, Fireboy returned the following year as the most decorated artist—Apollo was awarded ‘Album of the year’, Laughter, Tears and Goosebumps was awarded ‘Best R&B album’, Apollo clinched ‘Best Pop Album’; Fireboy also scooped ‘Headies Revelation’ and ‘Best R&B single’ award— a feat similar to what Olamide accomplished in 2013.
Last year, Fireboy’s most commercial single so far ‘Peru’ leaked into the airwaves. This song became a global and local top-charting tune, propelling him to an international audience. Ed Sheeran jumped on the song’s remix introducing Fireboy to his UK audience. Following this success, he has released two other singles — ‘Playboy’ and ‘Bandana’ — to support his third album, Playboy. Fireboy delivered a charming performance of his song “Playboy” at the 2022 BET Awards.
On August 5th, 2022, Fireboy released his most commercial album yet. With 14 tracks, Playboy features collaborations with Ed Sheeran, Rema, Chris Brown, Shensea, and Asake. The early tracks show a fondness for legacy and boy-meets-girl narratives; he shies away from loose lyricism and cliches for tense punchlines. The opening track ‘Change’ captures the aura of affluence Fireboy now enjoys as an artist. ‘Bandana’ is a smooth standout collaboration by two talented YBNL acts exchanging melodies.
Fireboy blames “shayo” for his philandering on ‘Ashawo.’ Produced by Bizzouch, the title song ” Playboy” enjoys pulsating acoustic guitar rhythms. “Adore” follows his customary boy-meet-girl narrative. ‘Sofri’ is yet another dancehall track on the album with casual lyrics. Fireboy grapples with his odyssey to stardom in a style similar to his Apollo album on the final song ‘Glory.’ ‘Afro Highlife’ is upbeat, suave and energetic. It enjoys laissez-faire lyricism, and particularly, it is a cultural foreground of the bustling Lagos lifestyle.
With ‘Playboy’, Fireboy completes a trifecta while still having fun. As such, it is bereft of urgency. It is vastly unconstrained and typical of the work of an artist who has gained mastery of his sound.
I hope Fireboy achieves international fame with ‘Playboy.’