Review – Oakwood Ave by Shalom & Toyin Ores

Review – Oakwood Ave by Shalom & Toyin Ores

So I’m sure we all remember the lovely roommate artistes I sat down with last week; you know, the ones who were dropping a single to show off Penn State afrofusion? Exact;y, those ones. WELL if you did what I said you should do, you followed up on them and know that their short EP came out on Monday. And for those who didn’t, well I’m catching you up on it now. Oakwood Ave is a collaborative afrofusion project by Toyin Ores and Shalom. (check out the interview with them here:


The project begins with Cry No More which has this slightly detuned almost lo-fi vibe to the instrumental. A deep 808 sets an almost dark tone that balances out the synths. The drums are simple and set a familiar vibe that doesn’t pull the ear too much so that you can focus on Shalom spitting fire. Her flow and delivery are undeniably lit. Gonna gas Shalom till she can’t take more because these lyrics are well thought out. There’s a Kirko Bangz callback that took me back. And then Ores did something funky with a clap in the beat near the end. I wish there was more of that one clap cuz the bounce it adds is hot.

Holiday is the second track and it kicks off with these catchy party chords. The whole track is steeped in island vibes, from the drums to the steel drum chords. After setting the mood with the beat, Ores delivers a fun verse. And then an even more fun chorus. The hook is my takeaway from this song, it’s amazing! Contagious! The vocal chops give it this International style, Major Lazer levels. Shalom’s verse works much better than I thought as I wasn’t sure rap rap would work on this but she proves me wrong. The tailoring of the flow to the beat is masterful and then she has a little sung bridge that I found stuck in my head for a while.

The released single, Bright Lights, follows and slows the pace down.I absolutely love the jazzy piano loop and he horn stab staples that feel in. The drums aren’t what you might expect from an afro project but somehow it gives it a unique feel. Love the piano loop. Not the drums I expected but it gives it a new feel. For such a simple beat, Ores adds some little flourishes here and there and that attention to detail is impressive. His vocals on this song are also my favorite from him on the project and thats saying something after what he did on Holiday. What can I even say about Shalom? This is my favorite from her as well. She rides the beat with ease and delivers like a veteran. Shalom is cold. No cap.

Young Heart Breaker’s somber mood is announced by a dark bass, simple synths and sparse drums. Shalom sings about an ingenue partner and the story is so relatable. The vocals don’t set the world on fire but its strong enough to get the message across. The hook runs a bit long for me but then Tim Lyre  arrests my interest again and steals the song with his patois flow, emotional vocal delivery and confessional lyrics. The harmonies in the second hook made it more palatable for me.

Chicagoan rapper Femdot lends his hard-hitting bars to the second verse of 1,2,3… The pain of the reality of police brutality is evident in everyone’s delivery and lyrics, however I’m not sure if the beat gelled with the subject matter for me. I can also admit that you don’t need a melodramatic beat for the message to get across. Shalom takes a smaller role in this track with an an understated introspective verse and a short bridge, allowing  Femdot shine with punchy potent poetic lyrics and emotive delivery.

The project closes out with Straight Out Of Oakwood  and this is such a wonderfully pleasant song. I actually love it. I miss outros like this. The start had me expecting a full song and then it spirals into this fun peek into the process that put this project together (besides our interview). I claim my shoutout since I’m here writing about it.  And Joe is the best rapper on the track lol. Maybe he should get in the studio with them. I also need to give Ores  credit for this beat because even just being on this. outdo, it is cheery and works well for what it was used for.

TL;DR: Oakwood Ave is a fun little project that’s an interesting exploration of afrofusion. You can tell that both Shalom  and Toyin Ores have an appreciation for afrobeats that they then put their own spins on. Ores’ production is simple and effective. The drums are clean and set the vibe as necessary. He also does well in keeping the sound spacious for Shalom‘s dexterity on the mic to shine through. You really get a sense of the personalities behind the project. The clarity of the mix made listening easy on the ears. They make a beautiful team and I am interested to hear how they grow together (if they so choose) and as individual musicians. After this and After Spring, I can happily say that July was a beautiful month for music from Nigerians in diaspora.


Favorite Tracks: Holiday & Bright Lights

Least Favorite Track: 1,2,3…

Rating: 8/10

Check out the project on your streaming services of choice! Link to the project here:

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