Though the Apple Music algorithm classes the project as afropop, DaRe and Tim Lyre’s 2019 release, inDigo, delivers more than just the promise of the bouncy West African genre. The project is often considered experimental by listeners, who liken it to a final year project by music students at Berklee attempting to show range. It’s an extremely versatile mix of lo-fi hip-hop, alternative rap, R&B, electronic music and afropop fundamentals. It’s very reminiscent of European and American electronica-heavy albums that occasionally strayed away from their core principles to provide a better-rounded, more global sound. (see: Major Lazer’s Know No Better EP, Mura Masa’s eponymous debut album and Calvin Harris’ Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1.)
inDigo can easily be described as an indulgent project; in many ways, the end product is evidently made with the intent to break down genre-based confinements. The duo behind the project hail from the stables of CLC; Tim Lyre is the producer and lead singer-songwriter on the project while DaRe is solely on production duty (although he makes a cameo on “Young and Dumb”).
Enlisting the services of AYLØ, July Drama, Efya, Davina Oriakhi, MOJO and Preyé across the 21-minute runtime, the production pair try their hands on a broad range of sound sets going everywhere from 80’s disco to spacey R&B. The conceptual mixtape has a distinct focus on colour and this reflects in its art direction. The cover art is indicative of the emotions the project attempts to elicit, and from the first record, the approach seems pretty straightforward.
A track-by-track review for the tape reveals the remarkable cohesion achieved from a mostly disjointed group of records, bringing the singles together regardless of the subject matter and varying themes surrounding it. “M: Schedule” featuring AYLØ is a disco-themed pop record and the perfect opener to a tape that could have been overwhelmingly downtempo without its inclusion. Setting the tone for the rest of the features, AYLØ’s singing is characteristically crisp and clear as he fits into the conceptual universe articulately. “T: Avatar” is July Drama’s entry into the project and marks the slowing down of proceedings. Tim’s alto vocals open the record with carefree lyrics before he redirects to his love interest, the subject of the song. July’s satisfactory second verse excellently finds the pockets of space in and around the beat as he provides an ear-catching final verse and outro.
“W: Feel It” delves into the deeper end of the R&B pool, featuring Ghanaian songstress Efya. The ballad is a duet between Tim and herself as it intersperses her backup vocals all over the track, giving it a robust surrounding effect – a function of the vocal manipulation by two audio engineers. “T: Live” draws influences from jazz, soul and scat and connects with Davina to produce a brilliant interpretation of all three sound types without forfeiting any of their key elements. The presence of the horns and cymbals transport listeners to a 70s dance club right before the slow dance number comes on (courtesy of DaRe); the beat swings around her vocals as she delivers a memorable second verse before she proceeds to close out the record alongside Tim.
“F: Exhibition” is AYLØ’s second appearance across the tape, and he switches up his style and delivery while inspiring his cohorts to do the same – starting with Tim Lyre’s patois verse and the intense Afrobeat rhythm provided by DaRe. “S: Need” steers the project towards its hip-hop as it approaches the descent. Coming in at three minutes sharp, MOJO’s R-rated verses open and close the track out, and Tim Lyre performs possibly one of the best hooks on the album, tying both ends together. The breathy instrumental is barely recognizable as a rap beat due to the limited percussion, yet, it provides an excellent platform for both the rapping and singing of both performers amicably well. “S: Young and Dumb” marks the end of the album with a downtempo, coming-of-age dream pop record carried by the inimitable vocals of Preyé, showcasing both her vocal prowess and apt songwriting in one fell swoop.
Like the accompanying stylisation that appears across the track titles, inDigo does not mean much when we attempt to consolidate all the moving pieces in search of deeper meaning. Still, when enjoyed in the same waveform as its scatter-brained creation, every song has a claim to make as a standout record. Profiting from impressive timing, brilliant collaborations and a cohesive concept, inDigo excels at showcasing the versatility within Nigeria’s shores, especially within the progressively limiting alté scene generally meant to house all alternative Nigerian acts.