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Ehis Combs Ohunyon

Odunsi (The Engine) is an enigmatic talent, a precocious artist for whom being different is the perfect way of getting his music the attentions that it deserves.

At first listen, ''rare.'' is a bit blurring, and it was intriguing to unravel what Odunsi was trying to do with this project, yes, he is 'Alte', yes the album was bound to be different from what you will usually listen to, but was it going to be 'differently good', 'pushed to be differently extreme such that it ends up losing its plot' or 'differently surreal and mind-blowing'?

Those were just a few of the questions that ran through my mind as I allowed the music play while I continued to hit my keyboard and try to keep making my honest living.

Spoiler alert, for your own sake, do not come to any conclusion after just one listen, give it time, listen again, let your thoughts and the music become one, don't be too quick to judge, then pass your comment.

Odunsi continues to thread where many others dread, why focus on making records with light drums, relaxed backing tracks, mid-tempo sounds and bringing back elements of disco, which last fully had its shine time in the 70s/80s, when you could have it easy playing with trending sounds?

He is also detailed in his art as he expressed in how specific he is with the minutest element of the album. From how he spells the album title in all small letters and the ...

Odunsi (The Engine) is an enigmatic talent, a precocious artist for whom being different is the perfect way of getting his music the attentions that it deserves.

At first listen, ”rare.” is a bit blurring, and it was intriguing to unravel what Odunsi was trying to do with this project, yes, he is ‘Alte’, yes the album was bound to be different from what you will usually listen to, but was it going to be ‘differently good’, ‘pushed to be differently extreme such that it ends up losing its plot’ or ‘differently surreal and mind-blowing’?

Those were just a few of the questions that ran through my mind as I allowed the music play while I continued to hit my keyboard and try to keep making my honest living.

Spoiler alert, for your own sake, do not come to any conclusion after just one listen, give it time, listen again, let your thoughts and the music become one, don’t be too quick to judge, then pass your comment.

Odunsi continues to thread where many others dread, why focus on making records with light drums, relaxed backing tracks, mid-tempo sounds and bringing back elements of disco, which last fully had its shine time in the 70s/80s, when you could have it easy playing with trending sounds?

He is also detailed in his art as he expressed in how specific he is with the minutest element of the album. From how he spells the album title in all small letters and the full stop at the end, the tracklist of the songs also starting with small letters on all streaming platforms except for the bonus track, this shows a man who pays candid attention to not just his music but the entire brand.

“rare.” opens with the album titled intro, a choral offering that ushers you into his world as the lyrics state, ”Told you I’m ready, it’s my time and nobody can tell me nothing”. Then ‘Falling’ fully sets it all off, a joint where he lives off the influence of iconic pop group, P Square as he infuses their hit single, ‘Ifunaya’ into a disco-heavy record.

The song immediately reminds me of his 2017 single, ‘Desire’, with the sampled classic from Baba Dee. Rendering his verses in a mix of pidgin, he manages to breathe modern life into this record with the hypnotic bouncy groove.

Odunsi is able to cross the line between bringing back music from the past and recreating it in today’s sound without making it lose its appeal.

‘take me there’ featuring UK singer Hamzaa talks about his search for love despite the pains he has suffered, this is an addictive record that suffers from being criminally short (less than two minutes long), as their vocals are well sequined.

‘outcast’ has that vibe that you can picture him performing at a concert and the crowd screaming ‘Olohun’.

Previously issued single, ‘Divine’ featuring pop star Davido shines brightly with a gorgeous melody. ‘angel’ with Duendita is very mid-tempo RnB, while ‘take a break’ tells a tale of different situations that take place in a relationship.

Santi and Nasty C team up to perfectly update the theme on ‘express’, this is the type of record you spin while doing the 260 on Lekki Express Way.

Odunsi also has a knack for knowing when to switch gears on a record and he achieves that with the slow dance jam, ‘dance floor’.

It is a rush of guest collaborations on the albums concluding songs with ‘star signs’ featuring Runtown providing another favourite off the album.

This is a recreation of mid-90s disco/R&B as Odunsi describes his personality on the hook, confirming his eccentricity as the guy who is interested in a girl that talks about star signs is not something that a teenager in this generation will bother about, but Odunsi does and Runtown again shows why he is called the ‘Sound God’ as he clearly adds his distinct vibe to the record.

‘green light’ with the incredibly gifted Tay Iwar has this filtered vibe, while ‘hectic’ sounds like a mash-up of resonant metallic sound not well hewn together as the album closes with the bonus single, ‘Alte Cruise’ with Santi and Zamir, one of the songs that set Odunsi’s artistry into focus.

One major thing that makes this album unique is the sound, the album scores near perfect marks in production, mixing, tracklisting and a wholesome sonic experience.

”rare.” is not for everybody, not every genre is actually, but despite a number of his peers doing their best to disassociate themselves from the genre, it is a fact that the ‘Alte’ sound needs a breakout star.

The early evolution of the pop genre in the late 90s gained full recognition with the likes of eLDee and Eedris Abdulkareem, it took a few years before we saw 2face in 2004 and D’banj in 2005 emerge to become the leading names of their own generation.

2007/2008 saw the rise of Banky W, M.I Abaga and Naeto C laying their marks on the scene, while 2011/2012 ushered in the present leaders in Wizkid and Davido.

Every era is defined by a breakout star, every era NEEDS a breakout star, every era has that artist who owns the moment and makes it his/ her own and we are not talking subtly or minimally, the artist must fully own the narrative.

I cannot state that Odunsi (The Engine) will succeed in achieving that already with this project, but he has all the required elements as he continues to dare to be different, dare to bring together the 70s and 80s music and reposition the sound into what the future offers and Odunsi didn’t just do it, he did it quite well, unique but relatable.

With ”rare.”, he has created a pleasantly delightful sound and if this is what the future will sound like, then Odunsi (The Engine) is there already and I am ready to tag along.

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