BOJ’s voice is like a signature, unique to its owner. A fuzzy, low-end register that fills substantial space but is ethereal in texture. BOJ’s limited vocal timbre will not snatch anyone’s proverbial wig, but he’s honed it in such a way that it creates an infectious vibe when he wields the right melodies.
BOJ’s rise started during his days as a member of the DRB Lasgidi collective, “Toyin” being the group’s biggest single. But it was his irresistible hooks on Ajebutter22’s “Omo Pastor” first, and then Show Dem Camp’s classic party starter, “Feel Alright” years later that widened the door for BOJ, introducing him to a larger audience. In the four years since the “Feel Alright” feature, BOJ has hovered around, appearing on songs by other artists, a handful of loosies, some well received singles and a commercial mixtape, #BOTM (BOJ On The Mic).
But even with his distinct voice, one gnawing issue has been the lack of a prominent sound for BOJ. There’s been a dichotomy bordering on the (blurry) line between “old” and “new” BOJ in what is generally perceived has a change of style in order to attract commercial impact, especially after signing with a record label, HF Music, last year.
The most important part of signing with a HF seems to be the space it has afforded BOJ to focus on making music, after all, artists typically prefer creating to politicking about the business side. Released over a month ago, BOJ’s debut album, Magic feels like a testimony to being in a settled position. An innocuous body of work, Magic uses current Afro-Pop sonic textures as a comfortable backdrop to accentuate BOJ’s simplistic, entertaining show.
Magic is helmed by BOJ’s frequent collaborators, the production duo of Studio Magic. They create a modish but largely impressive sound bed for Magic, which allows BOJ to sit in his vocal comfort zone, matching pristine production to saccharine melodies. Staying in this comfort zone helps the album not stray too far, creating an enjoyable vibe and also cushioning the effects of its questionable aspects.
Steeped in conformity, Magic lacks innovation but its element of alchemy is BOJ’s vocal performances which impresses more than it disappoints. The title track which also doubles as the opener sets the tone for the album. BOJ’s flirty, innuendo packed writing is guided by a percussive, mid-tempo beat over which his baritone voice glides with the grace of a figure skater.
The relative ease with which BOJ fits into Studio Magic’s beats is also the reason why owambe destined jam, “Ire” shines as one of the album’s gems. The rambunctious, shoulder twisting groove creates a delicious palette for BOJ to delightfully gush to an unnamed love interest.
Love, lust and admiration for the opposite sex is the bread and butter of BOJ’s lyrical caviar on Magic, making it a one dimensional ride lyrically, and sometimes painfully so. BOJ’s unimaginative writing at several points pegs down good production and vocal work, severely lowering the heights to which a couple of songs should be flying to. The mellow but jabbing booty ode, “Balance” contains one rhyme too many and “Wednesday,” a promising love duet with Seyi Shay, recedes into passable due to its unremarkable lyrical quality.
Although topically shallow, Magic boasts a deep roster, with BOJ hanging with guest artists on 10 of the album’s 15 songs. A couple of which do little to nothing in helping Magic transcend – Olamide drops a horrible verse on “Wait A Minute,” Ycee’s mid-level verse on “Antidote” feels phoned in, Wande Coal does little to help the soulless, ragga based “Aisha” from sounding like a fish out of water on the album. BOJ is the culprit on “Beautiful,” as he struggles to pitch high notes on a song which Ghanaian songstress, Lady Jay saves and inherently owns with her lilting vocals.
The perfect union occurs when Simi brings her warm vocals to “For Sure,” pairing with BOJ to sync harmonies comfortably over a folksy, rhythmic beat in what is the best song on Magic. Ending on a high point like “For Sure” would’ve been ideal, instead of the plodding duo of “African Lady” and “Wait A Minute.”
There contentious decisions on Magic, but not everyone has all the right answers at first try. At least, BOJ has started on a pretty interesting note.