2020 was by all accounts an awful year; Kobe died, the #EndSARS protests and lives lost at the Lekki Toll Gate shooting, there was (and still is) a global pandemic amongst so many other things, and in his new project – ‘Violent Times’, Loti uses this as a backdrop for the stage on which this body of work is created. Violent Times is not a project about the events of 2020, it is about heartbreak, love and loss; 2020 just helps to put it all in context.
There are many similarities between grief and heartbreak, they both deal with loss in some form, although heartbreak is more of the loss of someone’s love rather than losing a loved one, and on this project, Loti juxtaposes the two emotions.
The project starts with ‘Dying Inside’ a ballad where Loti is at his most vulnerable. You can tell he is grieving but he doesn’t explicitly state why saying “is it okay to cry, is it okay to lie that I’m fine when I’m dying inside”, repeating a sentiment a lot of us have shared sometime in our life and especially in the past year; and yes, it’s okay to cry. Loti uses a lot of storytelling motifs in his music and its apparent here, ‘Dying Inside’ is song zero, both a beginning and an end, the reason for his grief slowly revealed as the project unfolds, with ‘swear for me’ talking about infatuation in a relationships early stages, ‘90’s Hopeless’ examines the relationships of our parents, and early ideas of love formed due to Nollywood movies amongst other influences and how it affects how we 90’s babies see relationships. On ‘2020 Won’ he blends the feelings of loss in 2020 and the heartbreak he is experiencing with him saying “When the world was burning into nothing, I found you……… you made me feel like 2020 won again”, this point represents the loss and explains why he is dying inside.
The project is reminiscent of The Weeknds’ EP ‘My Dear Melancholy,’ both in its art direction and because they have similar themes. Also, it has to be a coincidence that they both dropped somber, heartbreaking music immediately after shiner, more pop albums.
The albums themes of melancholy are really strong and show in all areas, the lyrics, the beats and the albums engineering all play a part in creating a sad, moody environment. Women are featured on all the songs except dying inside, to offer a different perspective to the topics that Loti is speaking on and they all do their job excellently, both as a singular piece and in the larger context of the album. The project is a kind of throwback to Loti’s earlier work and his older fans will be able to tell even though this is better crafted. He does an excellent job of stirring emotions and creating something beautiful out of a time that seemed endless and filled with despair, here is to 2021 being better.