FOUNTAIN BABY: The Zenith of Poetic Incandescence

It seems June 2023 was sophomore season in the Nigerian music scene; coincidental or intentional, who knows? Before the first half of 2023 ran out, Ama Serwah Genfi, popularly known as Amaarae, decided to bless our ears with her sophomore full-length project, Fountain Baby. For the ‘bling bling bling bling’ warriors that heard her first on a collaboration with Blaqbonez and BNXN fka Buju, Fountain Baby might be the first portal that connects them to her poetic yet ecstatic artistry. But the OG fans who have been on the wave since Passionfruit Summers and THE ANGEL YOU DON’T KNOW, know that while we recognize the fast-rising bloom of Pop in Africa, no one or – better put – only few do it like Amaarae.

The New York-born, Ghanaian-American artiste had her childhood and teenage years split between Atlanta, USA and Accra, Ghana where she developed herself in music through High school and college. Her discography is a testament to her growth and mastery of music. Amaarae is popularly known for her rhythmical fusion of Pop, RnB, and Afrobeats. And on Fountain Baby, we experience an unconventional body of work that shows the pop star in her limitless element backed by eccentric yet alluring production. Unrestrictive sonic brilliance, vulnerability, and sheer confidence are characteristic of any work she puts out, and nowhere are they more evident than on the 14-track LP.

Amaarae set the mood with the intro track, All My Love, a 43-second instrumental produced by Kyu Steed and Leonardo Dessi. It perfectly communicated the suspense that comes directly before greatness. The instrumental flows seamlessly into track 2, Angels in Tibet, a fast-paced party banger with a catchy chorus that would fit just right in a club filled with tipsy ladies and gentlemen. Though the song lyrics have a cryptic interpretation, what is glaring is the glorification of the physical attributes of a woman and sexual interaction. Verse 1 expresses her love for luxury while verse 2 communicates this deep sexual tension that induces listeners to experience seduction vicariously. On Co-Star, one of two singles released earlier in the year, stellar production complements the artiste’s play on words with astrological signs. She explored the traits of the signs while being a little bit flirty and judgemental with lines like ‘there’s no way you’re a Virgo, cute but far from loyal, gotta be a Leo.’ A clear understanding of these songs shows that her desires are far from being emotionally simple.

On Princess Going Digital, Amaarae serves up synthy-wave pop reminiscent of the late 80s and 90s; Janet Jackson and Britney Spears’ outré jams being perfect touchstones. It’s another danceable record that fits into the bracket of a potential global hit. To be frank, Amaarae’s crispy vocals on the beat would definitely make the ladies feel sexy. The looped strings at the start of Big Steppa give a summer vibe as she balances her sugary vocals on the bouncy beat. The gracious mix of her enchanting voice and the undertone is even more evident in verse 2 which is sweetened by the faint rhythms of a bass guitar.; sharing similarities with Wizkid’s P-Priime-produced record, Anoti off the Made in Lagos Deluxe. Trust me, this is the record you enjoy the serenity of the beach to during summertime. Up next, on Reckless and Sweet, her honey-coated vocals take the shine as she explores the quest for love while narrating the tale of a lover that’s only sticking around for the gains. The track, which served as lead single for the LP, shines with Arabian influences; another potential smash hit.

The singer-songwriter rhymed beautifully on a mid-tempo beat on Wasted Eyes. It’s one of those songs where you can instantly picture her singing to you the moment those background vocal effects hit. Track 8, Counterfeit, samples Clipse’s 2006 hit, Wamp Wamp (What It Do) featuring Slim Thug. If you are familiar with the latter, at some point on Counterfeit, you would be resisting the urge to scream ‘wamp wamp, what it do?’. Pharrell Williams has writing credits on both tracks which connect the dots.
On Disguise, she masks her heartbreak in a soliloquy session. Producers on this track include Cracker Mallo and S-Type. Sex, Violence, Suicide is split into two parts; the first where she tells the tale of a complicated relationship with an acoustic guitar playing in the background, and the second, a heavy metal section where she raves “If I can’t get my way, then you don’t get your way”. It’s an incredible 7-verse record with the chorus and post-chorus coming between the sixth and seventh verse. The production on Sociopathic Dance Queen is another stand out on the album with its drums sharing a striking resemblance to Michael Jackson’s Beat It. Aquamarie Luvs Ecstasy is that s*x playlist-worthy track you put on repeat when you are in a nobody-else-matters-right-now mood with your partner. Her soothing vocals glide over the beat seamlessly and you can tell that the synergy wasn’t forced.

Clipse’s 2006 Hell Hath No Fury Album Off of which Amaarae sampled Track 4, Wamp Wamp (What It Do) feat. Slim Thug

Pop love letters do not get better than Water From Wine. On it, she empties her mind without filter to her imaginary lover while giving consent to a steamy tongue-on-tongue session whenever they want it. The final track, Come Home to God, is a multifaceted piece with room for multiple interpretations. It tells the tale of a stripper who’s beckoned to come to God, who in this context is an alter ego, Alimony Ama . It could also be an acknowledgement of the struggles of a common man and the need to turn to God as a place of rest. It’s a perfect ending to a journey of hedonistic desires, relationship tales and escapades with lovers who have ulterior motives.

Alimony Ama in her Element

Fountain Baby swims through quite a lot of genres and subgenres including flamenco, sultry highlife, and even Japanese Pop and that describes the borderless personality of the Pop star just perfectly; a fluid force of nature who can weave auditory senses into nothing like we’ve ever seen. If you are not on the wave yet, this is your cue to jump on and feel the snapshot of a borderless youth in the 21st century. Bravo, Amaarae! Bravo!

Peter Adeyemo.

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