The Review: Amaarae meets us on her own terms with her debut album “The Angel You Don’t Know”

After an extensive list of singles and guest appearances, Ghanaian-American singer Amaarae invites us to her world on her own terms, with her debut album The Angel You Don’t Know

It’s uncommon to see an artist gain so much traction prior to their first LP, but Amaarae’s feature list runs deep, and they’ve been only glimpses of what she can do, given a beat and some freedom. With “The Angel You Don’t Know”, we get to see her in full effect, and we’ve been treated to a world of beauty and chaos. Her sweet and laid-back vocals are still ever-present on this album, but we also see a more edgy and chaotic side from her, as well as some cockiness for good measure. 

The chaos begins with the album’s intro D*A*N*G*E*R*O*U*S”, which starts a guitar-driven number followed by the lyrics “fuck it up sis!’” repeated multiple times as the track fades out. It’s only 22 seconds long, but any expectations you may have had of this album are immediately thrown out the window – And that’s a good thing. 

The first actual track of the album isFancy, a light-hearted and confident tune about feeling yourself. A few weeks ago she tweeted “My album is basically non-stop affirmations and incantations 4 bad bitches”, and that message is very apparent in this song. She provides a well-put-together blend of singing and rapping, coupled with well-timed adlibs, and it all sits perfectly over a Haze and KD produced trap beat. “Bitch I’m really with the shits and that’s for sure” is easily my favorite lyric on this song, those bad bitch affirmations are already starting to kick in. 

Amaarae flips the script on Fantasy”, as the first set of features start to kick in. It’s a bit funny seeing someone featured on an Amaarae track, as she’s usually the guest on songs. Nonetheless, we’re in for a treat. It’s giving a very exotic vibe, something you’d hear on vacation in the Caribbean, and she really explores her sound on this one. Maesu’s feature is paired with what sounds like a choir, and it almost overpowers his vocals. CKay’s feature is markedly better, and he gets choral harmonies to accompany his verse. Maesu pops up again, but this time in the background, someone’s shouting “ayyy”, and that lifts the spirits of the track, almost making you feel as if you’re dancing to this at a party. I’d say the track could do without Maesu’s feature, but the party vocals have made me reconsider. To be honest, there’s not a lot of Amaarae on this one, it feels like she’s being drowned out by her features at the moment. 

The lead single of this album,Leave Me Alone” is all about protecting your space and energy, and focusing on yourself. We’ve had a lot of time to ourselves this year, maybe too much. It seems that this isn’t the same for her, as she delivers self-reflective and introverted vocals over what sounds like the base guitar loop of a lo-fi beat tape. The track picks up as the beat kicks in, and a bouncy chorus ensues. It’s uptempo and echoed, giving it more authority. Regardless, the foundation is set. The guitar loop is still very present throughout the track, although it’s overtaken by vocals at a point. Just as lo-fi music is perfect for letting your hair down and relaxing in isolation, Leave Me Alone follows in the same vein, albeit with an upbeat twist.   

British-Ghanian rapper Kojey Radical and Amaarae team up once again with Jumping Ship, but this time their places are switched, and Kojey’s the feature. Having Kojey’s rough vocals on the chorus was a great choice, and it’s one of the best parts of this song. The chorus’ lyrics “you gon’ make me leave, jumping ship” allude to leaving a relationship, and it’s a nice duet with both Kojey and Amaarae’s voices complimenting each other, almost like sweet and sour. It’s a perfect blend. Santi’s feature is my favorite part of this song, but maybe I’m a little biased. He glides into the track with vocals that hit every beat before relaxing into his verse, serenading us with a little singing and then poof. He’s gone. All in the space of 30 seconds, but it’s arguably the best feature on this album. I wish he was on longer, but I guess he jumped ship. 

Feel A Wayopens with sensual lyrics from who I assume to be Moliy, it’s so hard to tell cause she and Amaarae sound so alike. Princess Adjua comes in with an infectious hook, and it’s clear the entire layout of this track is set for whines. No one can tell me otherwise. Listening to this song makes you want to let loose, and feel sexy. It’s a track for bad bitches, and it’s only fitting that we have 3 on this one. 

The shortest song on this album, Trust Fund Babykicks off with a brooding piano and slurred vocals that segue into Amaarae’s first verse, and I particularly like this song because it’s a sex song, but on the woman’s terms. The sexual liberation of women in music has been a rising theme recently, and it’s long overdue. Female agency is important, and Trust Fund Baby” embodies that concept. The song exudes confidence and is a reminder that your body is your own, and no one else’s.

Amaarae shows us her cocky side with Hellz Angel, and I’m excited. A queer wind instrument sets up the track, what I’m assuming is a flute or a recorder. She raps on this, and mumbles a bit too which is surprising, but not in a bad way. This is why I hate referring to Amaarae as a singer because she’s so much more than that. Some of the lyrics on this are playful and the ad-libs are almost child-like, you can tell she’s having fun. “Bitch I’m in my bag on ten, I can’t even lack I’m blessed” are the perfect lyrics to describe this album, because you rarely catch her lacking. 

Things get a bit psychedelic with Céline. The beat is trippy, and I genuinely pity whoever listens to this while high, because you’ll literally leave the planet. Rvdical The Kid really finished work with the production on this. Amaarae employs a really high vocal pitch with some lyrics, I’m hearing a bit of Carti’s baby voice in there. The song can definitely do without it. Kyu Steed’s verse is here and then it isn’t, it’s very easy to miss. This track isn’t the strongest. There’s an audio excerpt at the end that’s a nice little addition. All in all, it’s an okay song, I probably won’t be playing this much. 

Dazed and Confused In Beverly Hillshas to be my favorite song title on this album, and maybe even this year. It’s a one minute interlude with a bedroom pop sound, and it picks up the pace towards the end. The lead vocals on this aren’t Amaarae’s but it’s an uncredited feature. The beat drop is exciting, but also pretty sad because it comes in late into the track. I wish this was longer, but it’s a good interlude.

Sad, U Broke My Heart” is slow and sparse, you can barely feel Amaarae’s presence on this track, and it feels like a waste of a beat. More could’ve been done with this song. 

“3AM” is another slow tune, and it has a loop that sounds like a hospital EKG machine, or a bedside alarm. There’s a part with nice harmonies, and she even speaks a bit of Yoruba on this, that’s a nice touch. 

Sad Girlz Luv Moneypicks up the pace again, and the difference between Moliy and Amaarae’s voices is clearer here. “Get the fuck outta my way, I’m gonna get paid, yeah” is a serious mood, and it’s clear Amaarae and Moliy are on track to get that bag and clear everyone in their way. Amaarae comes in towards the end of the song to close out the tune. 

Party Sad Face/Crazy Wurld is a great song to end this album with, it’s sprinkled a glittery piano that you can hear if you listen close enough, and Odunsi’s feature has me excited, cause these are some of the cleanest Odunsi vocals I’ve ever heard. The “Crazy Wurld” part of this song is the perfect outro for this album, finishing what Amaarae started with “D*A*N*G*E*R*O*U*S”, the album ends with guitar-driven chaos. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Previous Story

Enter the Harem: Rema Serves a Sensuous Video for ‘Woman’

Next Story

#GetToKnow: Apex Village’s Latest Signee Azanti Who is Poised to Take the Charts by Storm

Latest from Music & Playlists