As a noun, “serenade” refers to a song or piece of music played in the open to woo a romantic interest. As a verb, it refers to the act of wooing with that piece of music. After a stint of posting covers of songs by other musicians on social media, Funbi made his debut with “Hallelujah” in 2016. The response to this was impressive, with fans clamoring for more. Contrary to releasing a project to maximise the hype his song was getting, Funbi, a master at taking his time, Funbi took two years before dropping Serenade, his debut work.
Released on November 4, 2018 – his birthday – Serenade is a curation of love and affection, describing all the emotions that a man smitten by Cupid experiences. Each verse is a stroke of his brush on canvas, painting a vivid, powerful image of love when it all ties together. Switching between English and Yoruba effortlessly, the mix of languages heightens the sound by making it relatable to his listeners.
The first track, “Show Up”, tells its story in the title. The first words of the three-minute intro set the tone for the rest of the project by revealing his decision to show up and be present for the woman he’s besotted with: “Say me I’ll run to you girl with no delay/When you call me I accept your Invite.”
The chorus, however, gives a different meaning to “show up”, as he sings about his lover’s tendency to pop up everywhere: “You keep coming my way, everywhere I go you show up…” The track ends with Funbi admitting that although he’s aware of the uncertainty of life, he’s only concerned with enjoying the present with his woman.
On “Show Your Colour”, Funbi is reassuring and comforting as his partner struggles with insecurities and indecisiveness. Being emotionally strong and supportive is a key part of relationships and he certainly does his part here, reassuring her of his commitment to be by her side through it all: “But when the night is over/I might have to save you/Put your arms around my shoulder/You can bet on that
Up next is “Serenade”, the title track, and it’s pure flames. Imagine a man strumming his guitar in the middle of the road, singing and toasting his babe. Yeah, that’s essentially what this song is. Funbi doesn’t shy away from the adjectives here, describing her as “rare”, “real”, and the “prize he wants to claim.” (Yoruba men smh). A pure love song, the lyrics evoke a picture of the love we have all imagined; pure and consuming.
“Voodoo” has loverboy Funbi wondering if the woman he’s in love with has given him something suspicious to eat because his longing for her keeps increasing in potency. More upbeat than the previous song, “Voodoo” is a danceable track, with the drum and guitar combo making it impossible to ignore the pull of the dance floor.
Funbi continues the EP with a Seyi Shay feature on “Body”, an ode to his lover’s body. Physical touch is the subject of this track, and both artists sing lustily about the comfort and connection they feel for and with their partners’ bodies in alternating verses. The first of two featured artists, Seyi Shay, is comfortable and smooth on the track, with Funbi bringing his usual bounce.
Efya makes an appearance on “Ride With You”, a song about loyalty and faithfulness in the same vein as “Show Your Colour”. Efya takes the chorus, which has a groovy flow, while Funbi takes the verses. A proper highlife track, the instrumentals make you remember your favourite wedding parties and are sure to get you in a dancing mood.
The EP closes out with “I Want It Back”, a bouncy tune about reflection and realisation. As he thinks about his relationship, he realises that the love he gave was unrequited, and in pursuing that, he lost a part of himself. As reality dawns on him, he believes that reparations are in order: “See, but now I realise it was a lesson in disguise/All the things you took from me when I was young/I want it back, I want it back…”
The love and affection on Serenade came full circle, and so has Funbi if recent posts about his “rebirth” on social media are references to new music. But as we await his new work, it’s time to take a step back to his origins, when he serenaded us to fall in love.