Nigerian R&B/Soul singer/songwriter and record producer Jasën Blu sure did take his time coming through with his first body of work, when viewed against the fact that his first retail single, “Already”, surfaced back in 2017. The well received single was followed up by an equally impressive record, “Brown Shuga” nearly two years later in June 2019, the latter garnering well enough international attention on account of coverage in Japan and the UK.
After the announcement of the completion of his debut album (revealed via social media as “Soulwave”) later in 2019, and a follow-up to “Brown Shuga” titled “Love Or Nothin” which was released in April 2020, his debut project suffered yet another indefinite push back due to the coronavirus pandemic, during which Blu reportedly went back to the studio for additional recordings, perfecting of mixes and album restructuring, alongside his work as a motion pictures composer with his production company, SoundQraft LLC. Later in September, Blu announced a prequel minor project to the main debut album, titled “Road 2 Soulwave“. Stating in a Twitter post, “Soon we’ll get to SLWV [Soulwave], but a lot happened on the way to this point in the life worthy of telling. Best way to tell a story? Start from the very beginning / RD2SLWV”, he reaffirmed on the coming of the EP.
Initially slated for an October release, the project was further delayed by a few more weeks as peaceful protests against police brutality and bad governance broke out in Lagos and many other cities in Nigeria. “Holding on to the music was the honorable thing to do,” stated Blu in a radio interview. “This fight (the protests) touches every single one of us. And people lost their lives on the 20th at the Lekki Toll Gate. It was such a terrible, emotional experience because we started having solid hopes and faith in ourselves (young Nigerians) for the first time in, maybe, ever. I couldn’t even think about the music in those weeks.” However, on the 1st of November, Blu’s label Nubiana Records posted an official DriveTime Show announcement recorded by radio personality Tayo “OSYB” Ogunsusi and confirmed the EP for a 5th of November arrival.
Written, produced, arranged, performed and engineered by Blu himself in its entirety for his production outfit SoundQraft LLC, “Road 2 Soulwave”, (stylized as “RD2SLWV“) was largely recorded in Beverly Studio, Lagos Nigeria between 2019 and 2020, though it also contains materials from even earlier, like “When I Get Home” which was recorded in 2013 and previously released as a buzz single under the title “Song About You”. Notably, the EP also contains Blu’s standout 2019 single, “Brown Shuga“. The only guest appearance on the EP is by rapper BigMaxx, who lends a verse to the slow burn track, “Enough”. An extremely interesting moment within the 5-track EP is “U Remind Me (2020 Pidgin Acoustic)” whereby the singer re-imagines Usher Raymond’s Grammy-winning 2001 record, “U Remind Me” in a pure Pidgin English rendition seated on an ambient piano acoustic ballad, which, coupled with “Brown Shuga“‘s firm nod to D’Angelo’s “Brown Sugar” from 1995, vividly reveals Blu’s continually prolific and purely intentional homage to his roots of Soul & R&B.
“Road 2 Soulwave”, though essentially a Contemporary R&B recording, sonically employs fusion aesthetics ranging from Afrobeats, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Soul and Ambient music across all five tracks, accompanying Blu’s customary buttery-smooth, low-end layered background harmonies and laidback lead vocals very much reminiscent of the late ’90s and early 2000s R&B cadences. Termed a prequel to a main course full length debut rumored for a first quarter 2021 release, whatever Jasën Blu has following up to “Road 2 Soulwave” we definitely cannot wait to see.