Ayo - Ayo (Self-published/AllPoints)

When in our review of Nneka's 2015 album 'My Fairy Tale' we made the comment we weren't big fans of the "multitude of female singer-songwriters with an ethnic background", we were met with a lot of criticism; however with that comment we merely wanted to underline we couldn't quite grasp why artists mainly focusing on singer-songwriter pop are being promoted as world music acts simply because of the color of their skin. This description unfortunately also applies to Ayo, whose name was mentioned in the aforementioned review. This self-titled album is already the German singer-songwriter of Nigerian-Romani descent's fifth long player to date and marks a turning point in her life. Ayo moved from Paris (see the personal ode to the city of light 'Paname') to New York: "I was really alone for the first time, and acceptance and faith in myself were my best friends. I've gone through personal challenges and with moving from Paris to Brooklyn, I didn't know what was ahead. But I wasn't scared. The unknown was exciting. I could do everything or do nothing.". 'Ayo' opens and concludes not coincidentally with 'Nothing' and the hidden closing track 'Tout' ("everything"). Especially that first song, a reggae-influenced track in which Ayo talks about her shopping addiction and the consolation that many people seek in their material possessions, immediately caught our attention: "...I had nothing, nothing, when I thought I had it all. I had nothing, nothing, but an empty heart and soul... Because what is everything if you don't have love?". In the intimate, thumb piano driven, 'Why', the singer broaches her troubled relationship with her father: "I get my stubbornness from my father. We hadn't spoken for a while. I wrote the song because many times we hold onto things and don't say what we really feel. And I was thinking, what if tomorrow everything is over? How would I feel then? We need to not take anything or anyone for granted.". With 'Boom Boom' Ayo voices her outrage about the continued police violence in the US mainly targeting the black population. For the song, the singer drew inspiration from the tragic death of Mike Brown, who in 2014 was shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. 'Boom Boom' opens with a ghetto version of the popular nursery rhyme 'One And One': "One and one, two and two, put your hands up or he will shoot you. Three and three, four and four, better get your ass onto the floor. Five and five, six and six, always watch out for the pigs. Seven, eight, nine, ten, send this message to all your friends!". For Ayo, this album represented a musical rebirth: "This is the first record where I did nearly everything myself - wrote, programmed beats and produced. There was an immense sense of freedom. My previous records were me, but this record is all of me. It's like a new beginning where I can truly be myself for the first time, without having to explain my mission, or myself.".


Added: Oct 13, 2017