Album Review: Marenikae – Ajebutter

With her intriguing debut album title, Marenikae gives you an inkling of her album’s direction before you’ve even committed to purchasing it. To give some insight, for those of you who may not know, an “Ajebutter” is Nigerian slang for a “spoilt kid” or a “rich kid” most times born or currently living abroad. It has the connotation that“you’ve had an easy life and don’t know suffering.” Press play.

  1. Rosé High

The album starts off with a cool take on a guilty confession about alcohol. I’m sure this song would sound amazing live. Various instruments come together to create something that is sonically pleasing. And while all of this is great, someone help Marenikae put the Rosé down abeg. How much is Rosé again? Money is good o. Jokes aside, starting the album off with this record was a great decision.

2. Gidi

The song begins with a steady flute that you’ll also hear towards the end of the song. “Gidi” has a relaxing vibe that makes you feel high-class/elite. “I no get time…money dey for mind, no time” and “toast to the good life,” are the lyrics Marenikae runs with on the hook. Themes of hustle alongside enjoyment all are nicely packaged into the track. This song could have benefited from a nice rap verse towards the end, but Marenikae still carries it out well on her own.

3. Smooth Operator

This song screams begs to be performed live with choreography. “Smooth Operator” is pierced with church organs, horns and draws the focus towards Marenikae’s confident vocals. The song comes off like a freestyle and if it is, kudos to her creativity. Although the energy is great, the constant Ajebutter repetition/rhyme is a bit much. Substituted lyrics could have alleviated this issue.

4. The Bad Bitch (Interlude)

You’ll hear Marenikae at a different pitch and tone in the first half of this uptempo song. Lyrically the song isn’t for me, maybe because of the subject but I can’t deny the fun transition to the second half of the song. If I’m being honest, it almost made me raise my hand. This song is dedicated to the bad b*tches getting money. Marenikae salutes you o.

5. Luh U Ryt

I don’t know if Marenikae has been getting personal thus far, but this song feels very personal. She’s telling a guy to forget his old girl and that he looks like he’s going through some war wounds from love. Lyrics like “love can be unkind,” “take a chance” &“turn off the lights” give a complete message to a special song. Marenikae also uses some Backstreet Boys lyrics towards the end of the song. Make sure you catch it. Hint, it’s toward the end of the song.

6. Vybz

My favorite song on this album is “Vybz.” This song is full of Marenikae’s strengths, complimentary vocals, captivating lyrics and smooth flow, all while even paying homage to the great Lauryn Hill. “Why be a rock when you really are a gem?” Also, did I hear some Yoruba? Marenikae’s vibrant personality is all over this record.

7. Kraze / Krase

Marenikae’s continuation of upbeat sounds gets a bit exhausting but this record is meant to keep the party going. Lyrically there are times where her flow and diction is captivating but the hook that lead up to the “kraze” could have been replaced with stronger lyrics. It felt as if Marenikae wanted to keep up with the beat, which is great in theory but I would have appreciated a slower flow that didn’t match the beat step for step. Sometimes, less is more.

8. Kibinua / Body

I love the guitar that plays in the background on this record. Off jump, Marenikae gives reality and you can hear it in her voice. The more I listen to “Kibinua/Body” the more catchy it is. Along with the enjoyable beat, Marenikae gives a heartfelt message in this song that you should definitely listen to.

9. Cool Ajebutter (Smooth Operator Remix)

A remix to the previous track, “Smooth Operator” this reimagining gives more attention to the drums through the hi-hats and snares. When comparing the two I find that I do like this remix more than the original. The drums give the song more flavor and Marenikae’s ad-libs are perfect.

10. Remember

“Warning. Angry African woman,” is what starts the song off. You can add Kendrick Lamar to the list of artists (including Lauryn Hill and the Backstreet Boys) that Marenikae has borrowed from. Contrary to what the beat may lead you to initially think of the song, Marenikae dey vex o. It seems as if Marenikae is with whatever smoke comes her way as she seems to be dealing with those who have empty words for her. The album is almost done and I’m glad that Marenikae has shifted the feel of the album from enjoyment to more down to earth, relatable songs. I think this song is great, but would have been amazing without drums at all and/or with a slower tempo. “Remember” is another favorite of mine from the album, Marenikae gives you an unexpected record.

11. Remember (Afromerge Version)

To end the album, Marenikae gives an Afromerge Verson of “Remember”. Although the alternative track is appreciated, I think the original version sufficed. The beat clashes with Marenikae’s vocals in this version, which takes away from her voice which I love to focus on. However, I do love the transition, “ayyeee go somewhere with your busy bodyyyy.” It’s incredibly catchy and it’s moves you regardless of where you are.

Rating: 3/5. A debut album without features is a bold statement and a testament to Marenikae’s hustle. Her confidence is through the roof and you can feel it in her voice. This is a feel-good album, and gives you Marenikae’s signature sound, straight from a REAL Ajebutter. Jaiye, drinks, and good living with a little bit of serious matters to handle towards the end–this is the Ajebutter lifestyle in a nutshell according to the stereotype. While this is definitely a solid debut album Marenikae should focus on improving her songwriting. Marenikae needs to create catchier, memorable lyrics that will stick with the listener and help improve the replay value of her records. Personally, I’m looking forward to Marenikae’s future projects and also looking forward to her having the courage to experiment and hopefully succeed at making a variety of sounds, other than only sticking to upbeat Afropop. Well done and congratulations on this debut album!

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