EP Review: ‘Ibukun’ – YXL Ayo

‘IBukun’ is the exciting new six track EP from UK based singer/rapper YXL Ayo.

Although based in Skegness, YXL Ayo is a vibrant up and coming artist that’s very much in touch with his Nigerian roots. And those roots are the basis of the EP; the title – ‘Ibukun’ – translates to “blessed/blessing” from Yoruba, a native language in Nigeria. YXL Ayo chose to incorporate Yoruba into this EP after his late Grandma let him know she wanted to see him pay homage to his roots through his music before she passed away. Ayo dutifully fulfilled this wish and in the process created a body of work that would no doubt make his Grandma proud.

In fact, the first track on the project “G.R.A” is a tribute to his Grandma. “G.R.A” being an acronym for both Grandma Remi Amona and Government Residential Area – the area in which his Grandma lived in Nigeria. Ayo bravely bares all in this soulful track that, despite having a somber vibe, still manages to feel uplifting and filled with positive energy. It’s without doubt a track that celebrates his Grandma’s life and his fond memories with her. It’s refreshing to hear emotion so raw and real on a track – you can really feel the emotions in Ayo’s gentle melodic delivery.

YXL Ayo’s sound is anything but two-dimensional though and throughout ‘Ibukun’ he strives to give us an introduction to all sides of his sonic pallet. From wavy afro swing meets R&B on “Gold” to moody melodic rap on “Fimile” and skippy trap on “Money Heist”. Ayo is an artist with bags of versatility, but he’s also got the ability to make all of his tracks sound cohesive. Yeah, they’re all different genres and vibes, but he brings his unique energy and YXL flavour to each. You know it’s YXL Ayo regardless and that’s the mark of a really talented artist. To have both versatility and a signature style that is truly his throughout all of his work.

YXL Ayo is a name that you’ve got to mark down as a one to watch out of the UK after hearing ‘Ibukun’. Versatility and raw talent in abundance!