In his debut EP ‘Last Son of a Widow,’ Ayox stretches the musical capacity of street music
Like the average street act, Ayox has experienced life at the fringes of society and while the themes of his music are inspired by inner-city realities, his technique and style take on a more contemporary touch.
His debut EP ‘Last Son of a Widow’ stretches the musical capacity of street music. Ayox trades street slang for more urban and simplistic writing. He trades the jarring and electrifying production for more mid-tempo Pop and R&B arrangements. And for the aggressive chest-thumping delivery that informs street music, he trades for a somber style that informs the sobriety of the project. While his style effectively brings him into the realm of a Popstar, the backdrop of his music is built on the documentation of inner city realities and personal travails that underscores Nigerian Street Music.
While his releases on streaming platforms tracks back to 2019, it wasn’t until 2023 that Ayox would be noticed at a significant level. His single ‘Humble Cry’ gained traction on TikTok for its infectious melodies and the sobriety it offers Nigeria’s large economically hurting youth demographic.
His EP, ‘Last Son of A Widow’ sees Ayox showcase at a grander scale the pain that informs his music. A pain visible to anyone who retains a 5-seconds look at his face. While a good part of the music is inspired by a cry for help from a hurting young man, he also shows the never-die spirit that makes Nigerians the happiest people on earth despite the country’s dire reality.
Ayox showcases his cultural roots through interpolation of Yoruba folk in the opening record ‘Early 20s’ where he gives a brief documentation about his upbringing and the struggles that shape his reality. Losing a father at a young age made him the last son of a widow who had to carry the burden of raising her children.
A last born, Ayox probably has a close relationship with his mother whose vocals add some emotional touch to the music and in whose arms he rests tenderly in the cover art where he wears the look of a young man who hasn’t known a lot of better days.
An honest exploration of his pain forms the major motif of the album and this makes it easy for listeners to reconcile the pain in his eyes with his music. Songs like ‘Humble Cry’ where he showcases his Islamic faith and Fuji influences and ‘Walking Dead’ where he partners with indigenous rapper Zlatan to discuss the innate emptiness of life are songs that define who he’s.
And while he plays around and owns up to his promiscuity in ‘Ashewo Boy’ assisted by Tekno and adorns his lover boy cloak in the delightful Log drum-driven Pop record ‘Radar’, these songs like the women and a good time that informs them are getaways from his reality.
Ayox comes across as an artist with multiple influences that straddle Fuji, Folk, Pop, and Street music. There are parts of ‘Ashewo Boy’ that precede the chorus where he sounds like Omah Lay. In ‘Rader’, his vocal texture feels like that of the late Street Hop maestro Mohbad. While the EP explores Pop music, one can still hear his Islamic and Fuji influences in his cadence like in the R&B single ‘Into Shards’ where he interpolates the famous lines from ‘Ikoko Akufo’ by Nigerian folk artist Beautiful Nubia.
This multiplicity of his influences coupled with his readiness to explore his inner-city realities makes him a talented artist that straddles both worlds of Pop and Street music. And it’s this melting pot of Nigerian music influences that make up ‘Last Son of A Widow’ which offers listeners an insight into an artist who makes music from the heart.
Ayox is an artist who knows pain. A pain he turns into art in search of emotional and economical ease. A pain that others can feel and share through the beautiful music he makes. Music that will invariably bring him the success and solace to ease his pain.
• 0-1.9: Flop
• 2.0-3.9: Near fall
• 4.0-5.9: Average
• 6.0-7.9: Victory
• 8.0-10: Champion
Pulse Rating: /10
Album Sequencing: 1.7/2
Songwriting, Themes, and Delivery: 1.6/2
Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.5/2
Total: 8 – Victory