Johnny Drille “Before we fall asleep” album review
Music Review

Johnny Drille “Before we fall asleep” album review

After being discovered by Mavin Boss- Don Jazzy, for doing a cover of Di’ja’s “Awnn”, and releasing hot singles like “Halleluya”, “Romeo and Juliet” and “Shine”, sensational singer Johnny Drille is out with his debut album titled “Before we fall asleep”

“Before we fall asleep” offers new sounds, originality and an exploration of in-depth musicality of Johnny Drille that we have never seen before. It tries to present issues of Love, female subjugation, social and political consciousness and revolution in more expansive and non-conventional ways.

Johnny Drille before we fall asleep tracklist- www.thescoove.africa
Album Tracklist

As he released the album, Johnny Drille said:

I’ve questioned everything, the reasons why I make music, the joy and happiness that it brings.

For the first time in my journey as a musician and for the longest period I struggled to find excitement and fulfilment in the music I was creating: the series of writer’s blocks, inner emotional sufferings, industry pressures, and an annoying feeling of unworthiness were taking a toll on me.

I tried to hide these emotions from social media but if you looked close enough you could tell. There was something wrong, something was missing. My devoted fanbase I’d built over the past 8 years had loved and stayed committed to me despite not giving them the album like they more than deserved. Maybe I just wasn’t ready.

Love to my team, my family, my friends, my loved one who all stayed believing and encouraging me to push through and at perhaps the darkest moment of my life I found a spark, of hope, that spark became a fire, and that fire is burning bright in me, and now I feel alive again. I was down but God raised me, I’ve learned and I’ve grown, I’ve reached depths I never thought I could.

This album is SPECIAL, it is a piece of my heart in words and letters written with my tears and laughter, my anxiety and insecurities, and more importantly, my LOVE. This album is for a SPECIAL person, YOU 🧡

I’ve never been this excited about anything in life and I hope you share in this excitement. My debut album #BeforeWeFallAsleep is out this Friday and I’m counting on you. Love, JD.

My story, as expressed in this film by my best friend @timmyDAVIES.

Johnny Drille “Before we fall asleep” album review

1 “My kind of brown”
This is a wonderful album opener and the song contains excellent percussions that establishes its smooth and motivational vibe. The 5-seconds acapella makes it more dynamic and guarantees listeners that they are definitely listening to something new, something original.

The more commendable thing Johnny Drille did was to make his album-opener song a non-romantic song. When you listen to several albums, the opener is always a romantic song. Because ordinarily, singers believe it will get listeners more interested in “Before we all asleep”

Johnny Drille, thanks for ignoring the status quo.

It is also noteworthy that the song is that of encouragement to boost self-esteem. Johnny sings:

“Why you dey cry, you know you too fine, don’t let them bring you down”.

Wonderful lyrics. But it is supposed to be the chorus as it is a memorable catchphrase. The song also contains words that paints pictures in your mind; of clear-cut imagery. And even though they are everyday motivational words, they don’t sound like clichés.

2 “Loving is harder”
Okay, whatttt? From the album cover, it is obvious that Johnny Drille presents two sides of himself. The lover who is holding a flower and the playboy/ hard guy who is smoking. I think it’s the playboy who is smoking that takes over this song. He sings:

“You want me to follow you to the gallows?”

It is no surprise that it is the lead single of “Before we fall asleep” as it was released few days to the release of the album.
However, it should have been a collaboration with a female artiste. Even though it’s almost a perfect song and it sounds very original.

It still could have been made better with a female artiste on it. That way, it won’t be that it was just Johnny Drille expressing his own side of his story.

It was like Adekunle Gold did with “Delilah”, where he had Seyi Shay sing her own side of the story consequently.

It is intriguing to know Johnny Drille inserts Nigerian embedded love lyrics here and there. He says:

“I go dey for you no matter the weather”

3 “Ludo”
“Ludo” is a song about a girl’s tricky game with him. like Ludo, it is unpredictable. The hook is amaze balls! I mean, when the singer is not only good, but is a mixer and producer, he produces near-perfect song! It’s like with Simi, she almost has no bad songs. But Johnny is not even Simi, he is Simi on Steroids!

Even though the lyrics are somewhat wordy, some of them are quite memorable, and knowing the kind of “good boy” songs Johnny Drille sings, he seems to have drifted into getting very realistic with love and not just being a hopeless romantic.

Meanwhile, Johnny, I see what you did with the muffled beat at the end. Classic!

4 “Ova” ft. Don Jazzy
It’s a normal Johnny Drille song and has the lyrics of his romantic songs. It sounds familiar. The chorus is nice and makes up for the song which might not be so easy to learn its wordings.

It is good to know Don Jazzy has not lost his magic! He made the song way better and added some Nigerian spice to it. This transcends the song from being ordinary to being a jam.

The laughing-singing vibe at the end makes it sound very friendly, like it was made with love. Which is one of the major point of music.

5 “Odo” ft. Styl plus
By the time we are listening to this song. We begin to realize there are many romantic songs on “Before we fall asleep” but few of them come across as similar even though they have similar tunes.

Styl Plus made the song a whole vibe! His voice blends with Johnny Drille’s own so much you might not even know he was on the song. However, Johnny overshadowed him on the song. His verse was short…just too short. We were expecting more of it.

But unfortunately…

While the vocalizing at the end makes the song even more fantastic, it should have come earlier as this would have exalted the musicality of the song.

May we also take a pause, to commend Johnny Drille so far on the collaboration? It is very original when artists don’t just feature other artist because they are popular, but because they will actually add more essence to the song. I didn’t know Styl Plus before, but now, I am checking for him!

The Nigerian music industry is so bedeviled by many collaborations that the line between what is a jam and what is not is becoming blurry. Now, a Jam is termed one when it features the most popular and big names in the industry?

Good one Johnny Drille!

Read: Yemi Alade Queen Don Come EP Review

6 “Driving in the rain” ft. Ladipoe
Okay, this should have been a single! I mean, whatttt? Ladipoe’s verse is way better than Johnny Drille’s and this is because while Johnny Drille’s verse sounds okay, it sounds recycled; Like it has been used before in one of the songs.

But Ladipoe’s is so goooood I had to pause to check if he was rapping because he mastered his job so well. He understood the assignment! The way it rolls out of his mouth is simply breath-taking.

Meanwhile, the song does not entirely agree with the title. It was only towards the end of the song that the title was mentioned. This is not good enough for a song as legendary as this.

7 “Before I let go”
Even though it is a cool song it is the second song without relationship complication, it should have been preceded with the recorded voice at the beginning or even better, by better lyrics. It was only when Johnny Drille said:

“We are two songs on different keys”,

That intrigue sparked and was kept on by Ayra Starr’s voice (probably) towards the end, which is the only thing that made the song classic by the way.

8 “In the light” ft. Ayra Starr.
Finally! The first upbeat though not completely upbeat song on “Before we fall asleep”. This song has its flaws. It just doesn’t fit into the kind of collaboration a Johnny Drille and Ayra Starr song is supposed to produce.

I mean, it may boom later, Like Chike’s “Running to you” ft. Simi, but the probability is low.

The song needed something feisty, something memorable, like in “Loving is harder” or even “Ludo” on which she could have been featured.

The thing is, the song would have even been okay without the collaboration.

9 “Clocks” ft. Chlyde
Why couldn’t Ayra Starr be featured on this song?

Anyways, I don’t know Chlyde, but she sounds like she dropped from heaven!

God dey create voice abeg!

It is a perfect romantic song. The sync between Chlyde and Johnny is purely legendary. I mean, I am getting some Rihanna “beautiful like diamonds in the sky” vibes.

What’s more? It sounds unique in comparison to other love songs on the album even though the theme is not entirely different.

10 “Lies” (To whom it may concern”)
“Lies” is supposed to be a song of political consciousness, and even though it is expected to be laced with a revolutionary tune, no matter how hard Johnny Drille tries, it ends sounding romantic.

It doesn’t have enough motivation and passionate voice to effect a real feeling like in Falz’s “Talk” or Yemi Alade’s “Criminal in Agbada”. While it does its best, it doesn’t tick most of the boxes of what makes a song that preaches political didacticism.

It is even more obvious when Johnny Drille sings in less verses and words in comparison to other songs on the album.

Read: Nigerian artists with highest monthly listeners on spotify (September 2021)

11 “Lost in the Rhythm”
The conversation at the beginning was preparing, a near perfect depiction of police violence. While Johnny Drille tries to tell a story, he sounds like he almost never completes it.

The song tells a story about a guy who works hard and becomes successful despite the odds life and circumstances push against him, but even at the middle of the storytelling and the wordy lyrics, it is almost clear what is wrong with the song; Johnny Drille should have sang in more pidgin to denote his message as this would have made it clearer and more relatable.

In fact, it is not quite okay that this song should come immediately after “Lies” considering that they are both social/political contemporary songs.

It sounded like Johnny was making the album, remembered that he needed to make it have more than love-themes and recorded two songs to show he had completed the assignment.

12 “Sweet as a mother’s love”
Wonderful opening lyrics. The song sounds like one of those songs you hear when watching a British Romantic film. I mean, Johnny Drille’s dexterity is certainly undeniable.

This song appeals to foreign countries than it does the Nigerian setting, which brings us to one of the main concerns of the album promotion. The album is perfect consumption for not only Nigerians, but foreign countries, especially America.

Why not promote “Before we fall asleep” in America as well then? Just saying.

Take for instance “Sweet as a mother’s love” is a one in a lifetime song, but might most likely be ignored by Nigerians.

13 “Sister” ft. Lagos Community.
It’s a song to women and how they should keep up their strength despite the subjugation of all kinds they experience intermittently in their life. The song encourages them to open up for help that they are not alone and should never be ashamed of themselves or their past. Johnny Drille sings:

“Open…get a little light in”

It is also important to note, that featuring a choir is a veteran move. Only few artists do this and what they fail to realize is that having a choir on an album makes it dynamic, like you are featuring a part of the world or community in your song, and not just collaborating with an artiste who says his/her own views form a vantage position.

Like I said, Johnny Drille is no rookie.

14 “Sell my soul”
“Sell my soul” borders on a didactic tone. Johnny Drille sings:

“I don’t wanna sell my soul oo, never ever sell my soul”

He says the relationship is obviously going to be dangerous for him. But then, the girl is just a metaphorical representation of different kinds of temptation Johnny faces. He says:

“Some demons be looking so fine…”

It is a wonderful album closer. A love letter to not only Johnny’s fan, but probably to Jesus too, as Johnny has mostly identified as a Jesus boy. And being in a secular sphere, he tries to say he will not sell his soul by submitting to temptations.

“Before we fall asleep” offers new sounds, originality and an exploration of in-depth musicality of Johnny Drille that we have never seen before. It tries to present issues of Love, female subjugation, social and political consciousness and revolution in more expansive and non-conventional ways.

Flaws:
 The album contains too many lyrics. We get that Johnny Drille is an excellent songwriter, but still, the album contains songs that bare too many words. It becomes hard to memorize. The amputating thing about it is that, most of these songs do not have a fixed chorus.

 The album struggles to drift into the Nigerian sphere continually. At some point, we get a sense that a foreign music is being made, and the artists, realizing this, tries to make “Before we fall asleep” maintain its national originality, but still unconsciously submits to the muse of his art even though he does very well in trying to fit into the Nigerian context of music.

 “Before we fall asleep” should have adequately explored he side themes of social and political consciousness as well as the revolution it sought to inspire through songs like “Lies” and “Lost in the Rhythm”
Apart from this, “Before we fall asleep” is a perfect body of work, and arguably the best made in Nigeria. It gives what has not been heard before, and exposes us to a world of new explosive but still, almost sentimental music.
It is a bomb.

Rating: (10; 2 points each)

Songwriting: 2/2
Mixing/producing: 2/2
Replay Value: 2/2
Track-listing: 1.7/2
Structure/Rhythm: 1.8/2
Total: 9.5/10

This is the highest rating we have for an album so far!

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