We plug to you I/O… Born Ayo Olatunji, the Harlem, NY singer-songwriter is the grandson of the late Nigerian drum legend Babatunde Olatunji who won a Grammy Award in 1991 in the Best World Album category for his album Planet Drum. Babatunde also founded the Olatunji Center for African Culture in Harlem and recorded with legends such as Stevie Wonder and Quincy Jones during his time.
I/O carrying on the family’s musical success, recently released his debut project Isolation in July this year. The LP is a free 12-track album released through DJBooth.net, which is a follow-up to his last mixtape titled 8-bit Love. I/O who produced 10 of the tracks also penned all 12 tracks on Isolation with Kozza BabumbaLe’Roy Benros and I/O himself serving as executive producers on the project
The first plug, “Wasted My Time” is a subtle laid-back track to which Olatunji’s vocals remain in a solemn and almost ethereal tempo throughout. The song is backed by rich electric guitar and homogenous drum patterned sonics. I’ll admit I’m not entirely certain on the theme of the song, but the sounds seem to bring out a plethora of emotions on every listen and it serves as a great introductory song to the album.
This next song is aptly titled “I’d Be Lying” because I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t the track that got me hooked on I/O. The intricate mix of instruments in the first 29 seconds of the track had me wishing this were an instrumental – from drums and hi-hats to lush guitars. Luckily, I/O’s vocals embellish the orchestrated sounds so well that I was and remain content after listening to the full song. The R&B track infused with an electric-funk feel is one of taking risks and chasing dreams that is executed rather superbly.
The third single I plug to you from Isolation is the song titled “Strangers”, produced by Jordan Ware. An apt demonstration of the eclectic sound that embodies I/O’s self-defined genre of “New Wave”, “Strangers” is a harmonious showcase of his vocal talents and songwriting abilities. Everything on this track plays together so well, I can see why it was chosen as the lead single off the new LP. I/O sings mostly over a bare-minimalistic instrumental of synth-keyboards and arresting drum patterns to make for a very enthralling listen. Listen to the super dope track below:
If I were to explain I/O’s music, I’d say it’s a cross between Frank Ocean and The Weeknd because that’s quite the easily identifiable comparison, but I/O somehow still differentiates himself from these two Progessive R&B front-runners. Comparisons aside, his songs are as refreshing and captivating as they get and as proof, all the tracks on Isolation are so GOOD, it was simply easier just to select the first three tracks I heard on Isolation for this feature. Other favorites on the LP are “We’ll Always Be” with its up-tempo electronically generated sounds and “Fast/Freetimes” which reminds me of the Zapp & Roger “Computer Love” tune from 1985. Isolation is one of the standout LPs I’ve heard all year and frankly quality music this GOOD should not be free.
As a bonus, here’s some brand new music from I/O titled “You Slay Me” which was released only a few days ago. You can thank me later, listen below:
Download: Isolation – I/O
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