If you haven’t heard of Ayoka, you’ve been missing out. I covered her track “Need to Know” back in April and loved the track. Her debut album, Venus, continues we got on “Need to Know.” Ayoka effortlessly walking that fine line between the obvious sexiness of today’s R&B and the “I need a better love” moods of old school R&B.
This project reminds me, as “Need to Know” did, of Staasia Daniels or even a Carter Marie. All three can “sang” and have perfected that balance between the new and the old. All three also have a mix between the serious and the joyful, giving themselves a more dynamic presence in their tracks. For example, Ayoka’s vocal abilities are on full display on the first half, as she bounces between ballads and playful tracks such as the dancehall-flavored “Whine” (a standout on the album).
And then “Damaged Goods” hits and everything goes out the window–in a good way.
On the song “Damaged Goods,” Ayoka takes an different route, opting for a bit of a Sade-esque sound and imagery, detailing the story of a woman who’s unwilling to be the person she could be because of past traumas. It’s a surprising track to put in the album, from a sonic standpoint. However, since this debut is about lifting up Ayoka’s vocals and everything as the centerpiece, it does make sense. It also sets up a lot of the second half of the album. This portion is where Ayoka talks about some of the concerns she’s got in her relationships and the concerns she has with those around her. She goes on a run that’s part Sade, part The Weeknd in its bluntness.
The project itself is as complete as a debut can be. It accomplishes its goal of introducing who Ayoka is and why we should listen to what she’s got to say. Plus, it highlights her strengths, especially her voice. Check it out above and remember to support dope music in all its forms.
Ayoka’s debut album is a mix of dark and sunny vibes, showing as complete of a picture it can for a debut album.