In August, Lilian Mbabazi, through her social media platforms, revealed that she had been in the studio cooking, saying she had been working on an EP.
And on Friday, October 28, the former Blu*3 singer released the long-awaited project. The seven-song dominantly R&B Soul EP that delivers on ballads, soulful slaps, and heartfelt confessionals features only Eddy Kenzo.
I have listened to the EP back and forth since its release just over two weeks ago and in this article, I share my thoughts on each song.
The lead single of the EP, The One, which was also the first song to be released, has an afrobeat feel to it and serves as a perfect opener. When you listen closely, you can not miss the African sound in the song and it is not just limited to percussions. The rhythm, flow, and control Lilian has throughout the track, and the harmonic backing vocals on the hook in the song affirm how good a singer she is. The One is a 6.5/10.
Mirrors has the pristine of most of Eddy Kenzo’s recent songs and features. They, honestly, are scuffed. Compared to the other songs on the EP, Mirrors is all-around quite underwhelming. It’s probably a 4.5/10.
Never Letting Go is a heartfelt soulful confessional whose layers of instrumentation stand out, especially the baseline which easily soars out, and the acoustic that gives the song progression. The song was very well arranged and the lyrics, especially the opening verse, tell how good a writer Shena Skies is and Lilian did justice in the execution. “Nkwagalidde ebaanga ddene Nasibila wuwo nakuyweza Ndi bank yo nekumye Tolilaba ntungo bwegwa…” she confesses. Never Letting Go is a 7.5/10.
On Diamond, Lilian wrestles with ideas of self-doubt before transformation which are put in reflective lyrics. “I feel like coal under pressure… Maybe that’s what I am, Maybe right now is just a part of me becoming me, a forming treasure… Maybe that’s what I can set out to manage and if that’s the case, then I am Diamond potential…” she sings. Diamond is R&B Soul defined, it’s overstuffed with perfection. Diamond is a 9/10.
Ogusela is an afro-fusion soulful tune. The layers of instrumentation Danny Beats put together give Lilian a bed to smoothly float her vocals, explore her range and alter voices. It’s one of the best songs on the EP that is good enough for 7/10
Lilian conjures that old Blu*3 magic, sort of, on Jangu. Its beat exudes that Blu*3 vibe that legendary producer and Fenon boss Steve Jean used put out. The song nods to (and sort of borrows from) Blu*3’s Ndibeera Naawe and a bit of Leila Kayondo’s Nkwagala. It’s nonetheless a good song that passes for 6/10.
The bonus track Dem Days is UTaKe nostalgia trip to the early and mid-2000s when Lilian was starting out her career in 2004 during the entertainment reality-tv talent search competition “Coca-Cola Popstars”. She revisits and documents some of the region’s best and most popular songs of the time, picking a line from each to put together a four-minute record that sits smoothly on a seemingly 80s synth-pop type beat.
Lilian starts off from Kenya with Nameless and Amani’s classic Ninanoki before running through some popular hits from Wahu, Mr. Googz, Kleptomaniax, Necessary Noise (E.A Bashment Crew), and E-Sir (R.I.P).
Her run through Uganda’s hits starts off with Ziggy Dee’s biggest single “Eno Mic” before diving into some Klear Kut hip-hop with songs from Juliana Kanyomozi, Swahili Nation, Steve Jean, Michael Ross, Benon & Vampos, Ngoni, and her own Blu*3 also revisited.
Mr. Nice’s “Kikulacho” kicks off Lilian’s run through Tanzania with some bongo classics from girl group Wakilisha, vocalist TID, singer Lady Jay Dee, Ray C, Jay Moe, and wraps it with Saida Karoli’s classic “Maria Salome”.
This nostalgia treat is a solid 7/10.