On his love soaked EP, Juls takes a leap that has definitely paid off
Love is at the centre of Leap of Faith, the debut EP released by UK based Ghanaian producer, DJ Juls on 8th May. The meaning behind the EP title comes as a double entendre. First, it’s reflect a certain doubt in his crossing from a credible producer to an incredible one. It also reflect, based on the themes covered, a man in love.
For many years, DJ Juls has worked his way to the top. The many years of work is beginning to pay off in a huge way. What began as an experimentation with a new found production style, which he credits his girlfriend for, became a ground breaking one. Employing classic highlife grooves and deliberately slowing the tempo of the song caused a seismic shift as far as the afropop sound is concerned. Juls, arguably created what is today’s afropop sound. The experimentation which began with Mr. Eazi has become an industry standard.
This new sound is what is heard on this EP. DJ Juls also assembles some of the ‘new age’ artistes who are proponents of this wave; this eclectic afropop sound. A cursory look at the features shows a host of Nigerian artiste with a few UK based Ghanaian artiste.
The EP opens with ‘My Wave’, an infectious tune soaked in rich highlife grooves with Juls blending various elements of traditional African music. The guitar riffs and horns along with the excellently delivered vocals of Odunsi (The Engine) and Sona makes a solid opener. Maleek Berry and Nonso Amadi, two fast rising artistes croon with passion on ‘Early’, a love-tinged tune, which sees the two exalting their love interest. ‘Is that invitation to take you out? Even if you say no, I’d take you out/I just wanna wake up and check you out’, Nonso sing with tenderness. Whereas Nonso comes across smooth and soulful, Maleek Berry’s tone was intense. A perfect blend. The emotions expressed are passionate and honest; something that hit the listener. ‘Early’ is likely to be the radio banger off the EP. ‘Give You Love’, released as the first single in late 2016, doesn’t deviate from the norm: the charming guitar riffs, triumphant and the hard hitting percussions suck you in before L.A.X’s words. He croons about love like someone bitten by the love bug.
The tone of the EP tilt towards afro-dancehall on the Kojey Radical assisted ‘Temperature Rising’. Employing elements of Nigerian juju music, Juls lays down a beat for Kojey to slay- thanks to his booming voice and cadence. The sing along chorus aside: ‘you feel the temperature climbing/you know that time is expensive/ you know that these moments are priceless’; the DJ scratches hand the song a late 80s/early 90s mixtape feel. The afro dancehall template is followed on ‘After Six’ (featuring Santi and Tomy Agape), ‘Coco’ (where Santi joins Odunsi) and the Frass AOD featured ‘Mi Luv’. Next comes ‘Bad’; the club crafted tune which features Nots3, Kojo Funds and Eugy. The minimal elements of drums and snares tease the bad in you out. The EP ends with Eji Owuro, the R&B influenced love-themed song featuring Moelego.
There are a host of positives on Leap of Faith. First, Juls has formally cemented his place within the pantheon of producers who have shaped the sound of African music. Second, the feature list and the pairing of acts as well as the sequencing of songs were perfectly done. Finally, settling on a host of African, new age’ artistes pushing the new rhythms of Africa to a wider global audience was an excellent decision. The switch from the mellow, slowly burning rhythmic grooves on Leap of Faith to dancehall vibes saved the EP from becoming a boring, repetitive outing.
It is uncommon for even experts in a field to have a bit of doubt when making a transition from one spectrum to the other-a transition with the potential of changing their lives. Granted Juls, has in recent times, etched his name in the top African producer list but that doesn’t erode the doubt, as seen in the EP title. The leap taken by Juls has indeed paid off. Acceptance: check; success: guaranteed!
written by Swaye Kidd (@swayekidd)