Blackmantayne pours his soul into debut project ‘stay with me’
If you asked Oluwatomiwa David Ayeni, the owner of the Blackmantayne moniker, what he thinks of his music and brand summed up in one word, he would most likely use the word ‘authentic’ or some closely related word like ‘genuine’, ‘sincere’ or ‘organic’.
The sentiment is not hard to understand once a song off his debut album – Stay with me, that contains hard-hitting and soul-lifting traditional influences like ‘Higher’ comes on. Or if you listened to a painful, yet the powerful recollection of grief and sadness like ’09’.
On his debut LP, Blackmantayne spills his emotions into the music, resulting in a cocktail of soulful melodies and a sound that feels very much ‘at home’. The project makes one feel ‘at home’ in two broad senses. The first is that the project sounds authentically African, while the second is the soulfulness of the music on this project makes it so relatable that it feels like it is yours.
Blackmantayne takes a lot of pride in what he does with his music and he is meticulously intentional about creating a safe haven for listeners who relate to subject matters like love, passion, grief, romance, and life in general.
As a passionate practitioner of a genre known as “Afro-Soul”, Blackmantayne is of the opinion that music is indeed alive and it can travel to the ears that need to find it, making the listener better off for it by providing a sense of connection to people who have experienced and are experiencing similar levels of passion and pain.
He claimed to draw inspiration from a few artists like Kayode Fashola, 9ice, Asa and most importantly; Sade, but somehow manages to still possess a distinct sound and style.
According to Blackmantayne, ‘Stay with me’ has been a long time coming. He describes it as a product of a lot of time, energy and passion that had been in the pipelines for a period of four years.
It’s very easy to tell the personality and philosophy of the artist just through a simple listen. He features no one on his debut project and the large majority of the songs are produced by a close friend and associate – Push Push, with the only other song (Impression) produced by EOD. He clearly sees his journey in music as one that requires him to keep the family close and the circle small. The addition of a voice note from his mother, sending a blessing to him in Yoruba tongue at the end of the final track of the album – ‘Higher’, makes the point even further.
The album begins with the titular track – ‘Stay with me’, which is a speech, introducing himself, describing the target audience and inviting them to; “Pick your dose, overdose on it, pick your story, relate to it, walk with me on this journey…”
Kicking off the album this way puts his listeners in the same environment as himself mentally, preparing you for a heartfelt serving of experience, hope and struggle across the album. The track that follows is probably the darkest point of the album. Track two; ’09’ is a quick, rhythmic plunge into the memories of a young Oluwatomiwa Ayeni, recounting the grief that the year 2009 brought. The number ’09’ is chanted on the chorus in a manner that induces head bobbing and introspection at the same time. The album also contains a lot of outpouring of romantic and emotional intent with songs like ‘Would you, ‘Could you’, ‘Keys’, ‘Tonight’ and ‘Road trip’.
The album carries you on a romantic rapture through the lenses of a man professing his adoration for his lover through melody lined with yearning and a burning passion. The other tracks of the album also follow a common theme. The tracks ‘Slow me down’, ‘Owuro tun tun’, and ‘Magic’, most notably, the remarkable end to the very personal journey that this album ‘Higher’. On these tracks, Blackmantayne speaks in a more upbeat, optimistic and pensive tone. The songs convey a lot of sentiments about life, betrayal, obstacles, new opportunities, progress, success and a swagger that comes with leaving the past and the obstacles that came with it in the dust. On ‘Slow me down’, he talks about how he simply wants to speak the things on his mind in the midst of people who might want to slow him down on his journey through life’s labyrinth. On the track ‘Magic’, he boastfully declares that what he does in the studio booth is magic. ‘Owuro tun tun’, is a Yoruba word that translates to ‘new dawn’ or ‘new morning’, denoting a realisation of the fact that a new day presents a new chance to take life on and be grateful. The song is fully rendered in Yoruba language, giving it a more traditional feel than most other tracks on the project.
As a body of work, stylistically and artistically, ‘Stay with me’ holds up very nicely, especially for a debut album. It is important to know where you are headed as well as where you are coming from and on this album, Blackmantayne makes it very clear that he is well in touch with his roots, as well as where his music will be taking him. He deeply believes that this album would stand the test of time and be relevant to who it needs to be relevant to.
With ‘Stay with me’, Blackmantayne marks his spot in a rapidly evolving and developing Nigerian music scene, bringing a much-needed dose of sincerity and relatability.