In 2017, Juls put out his first commercial album ‘’Leap of Faith’’. The choice of album name was not in vacuum. It was Juls’ first major attempt at throwing his hat into the unpredictable waters of the music industry full time. He quit his formal job in the finance industry in the UK to pursue his musical dream. One would have questioned Juls’ hesitation at reaching this decision considering his position within the music scene as the producer who, along with Mr, Eazi changed the face of afrobeats. The hesitation made sense considering that, even the greatest military generals have/had doubts when going to war over their strategies.
The success of Leap of Faith – which had standouts like ‘’Early’’, ‘’My Wave’’, ‘’Bad’’ and ‘’Give You Love’’ was the confirmation Juls needed to eschew any doubt in pursuing this musical endeavor full time. Between 2017 till date, Juls has grown his profile within the scene to near godlike status. His impressive skills coupled with his own industry knowledge has led to him becoming, among other things, a guest on Ebro’s show on Beats 1. Juls also produced GoldLinks ‘’U Say’’ featuring Tyler, The Creator.
The success of “Leap of Faith” and other successful singles was the jetpack that propelled Juls’ creativity. In 2018, he released “Ojekoo”, a 5-track album featuring songs like “Gwarm” and “Agoro” with appearances by Burna Boy and Adekunle Gold respectively. (“Ojekoo” has raked in 14K streams on Boomplay).
2019 saw him drop a couple of singles like “Normal” (featuring the charismatic Kojey Radical), “Maayaa” (with Tiggs The Author & Santi) and the dancehall influenced, Agent Sasco (formerly called Assassin) featured “Slow Down”. The last ultimate single released by Juls was “Cake”, which saw him reunite with Mr. Eazi once again. The different shade of singles plus more is what is heard on his third studio album “Colour”.
Consisting of 10 tracks, “Colour” lives up to its name. The music encompasses different influences or genres, with the golden and vintage sound of highlife serving as the bedrock on which the album is constructed. (It needs to be said that highlife has become an ubiquitous element in most of Juls’ work since causing a seismic shift in the sound of afropop with Mr. Eazi’s “Skin Tight” and “Bankulize”.
“Nyanfu Riddim” featuring Worlasi (the only native Ghanaian on the album) blends South African house music with minimal highlife feel to create a musical reverie. Worlasi is allowed to berate the excellently spaced, high tempo beat how he wants; singing about love and money in both pidgin English and his mother tongue of Ewe. “Be like of late, money get leg, once e land na e dey lef/ Be like of late money be air, you no hold am na e dey lef”, he intones on the horns and guitar swirling record, summing up his intentions with riches with the lines: ‘We go chop am nyafu nyafu”. (Nyafu Nyafu is a slang that means recklessly or excessively).
“Normal” featuring the charismatic Kojey Radical brings the sound of UK grime to the fore. Two things stick out on this track: the build-up before Kojey’s vocals drops and the cadence in his delivery. The energetic tempo present on “Normal” is replaced with a mid-tempo, groovy toned “Like Tu Danz”. Kida Kudz, Ms. Banks and Pa Salieu float on this enchanting minimal production. The vibe exuded by ‘Like Tu Danz” reminds one of “Bad”, off “Leap of Faith”.
Another standout on “Colour” is ‘’Angelina’’ featuring Falz and Oxlade. A tune about love, ”Angelina” is that record that sticks in your head, due largely to Oxlade’s amazing falsetto delivery and the masterful production that surrounds the song. From lyrics to production, everything thing is well tempered. On “Sweetie Odo”, the infectiousness of vintage highlife sound is very apparent. Sway Clarke, (who has had stint with Tinnie Tempah and now the frontman for German band “Seeed”) does not disappoint with his rich RnB styled crooning. Closing the album is “No Lie”. The record opens with a spoken word delivery about black excellence: ”Don’t you know light lives in dark places too?” the poem partly reads. “No Lie” is a soulful hip-hop tune, constructed along the lines of a Slum Village record.
”Colours” is Juls’ best work till date. The album confirms his growth as a producer and a good A&R. If there exist any great quality to his musicality, it is his ability to peg the right talents on a record as exemplified on “Like Tu Danz”, ”Maayaa” and “Angelina”, where artists from different musical styles combine effortless to create amazing pieces of music. Also, the transition and sequencing of songs on ”Colour” is impeccable – “Nyafu Nyafu’’ was an excellent opener. Juls does well to hold the interest of the listener, thanks to the fusion of different musical genres.
My only reservation is why Juls does not feature a lot more Ghanaian artists on his albums compared to Nigerian acts or artists with Nigerian heritage. Having cultivated a respectable stature and brand as a music producer along with his influence, one might think he would use his albums to introduce some talented Ghanaian acts to his growing fan base. However, one can also understand his decisions: he has to sell records and it makes sense to put on already known voices like Mr. Eazi, Kojey Radical and Falz on his project. Whatever the argument, one thing remain incontrovertible: “Colour” lives up to its title.