After two decades of making music professionally and releasing them independently via his self-branded label Dunkishrock Production, Duncan Daniels who is a US-born Nigerian-American music producer and recording artist, highlights his tenacity for staying current and never backing out or backing down with his sole purpose of getting his music heard. This has not always been an easy plight. Yet, with relentless drive and against all odds, Duncan Daniels presents ‘Songs of Limitless Optimism — S.O.L.O’.
The album highlights Duncan’s vocal and arrangement skills as both a performer and mixing engineer. His ability to also write music that cut across a varying array of topics makes this a very distinct effort. This is also a body of work with no other vocal features, every single voice including background and supporting vocals are all his. Duncan also engineered every song himself for stereo and enlisted the renowned mastering expertise of Abbey Road Studios veteran Engineers, Andy Walter (U2, The Beatles, Cold Play), Simon Gibson (The Beatles, Harry Potter, The Hobbit), and Alex Gordon (Florence + The Machine, Slowthai, Yussef Dayes). Duncan Daniels took the sonic experience of the project to even greater extent by working with California-based mixing engineer (behind the viral YouTube Mixing tutorial videos) Alex “Pro Mix” Solano, to up-mix the project to spatial audio for the Dolby Atmos immersive listening experience.
Duncan Daniels’ S.O.L.O is timeless feel-good music with limitless optimism that can be enjoyed anytime and anywhere. The project offers great sonics and sets a vibe from start to finish. It is a complete body of work, with limitless potential.
Duncan Daniels addresses critics and bolsters the idea of doing it alone, going “Solo,” a word that also echoes the album title and is repeated constantly on the hook, prefaced by the chant in Yoruba “Wo okpto Wo oletomi” which translates to “They are not on my level, no one better.” Almost like a war cry before battle, as he opens you to this body of work. We also get to listen to Duncan’s versatility, taking on a rap verse for the first time with so much ownership and skilled wordplay.
Duncan Daniels delves back in time to his brief travels from Port Harcourt to Lagos in the mid-2000s, always having to pass through the ultra-busy Obalende area on the Lagos mainland before getting into Lagos Island. Tapping deep into this nostalgia the 1998 song “So into You” by Tamia comes to mind with similar progressions and melody structure, hence a catchy summer-sounding fun and vibey love song emerges as the first single on the album.
In the Igbo language, “Mmadu” translates to “Person” or “human being.” An activist at heart, Duncan uses his music to shed light on key issues affecting people living in the city of Port Harcourt and its surrounding Niger Delta areas in Nigeria. Unfortunately, years of unsafe oil manufacturing practices and burning of poisonous substances into the atmosphere in the region has abetted dangerous air quality and a rise in respiratory illness amongst other calamities. Duncan has been raising awareness on this issue and is engaged in finding solutions to these problems facing the Niger Delta.
4. “Diaspora Night”
Duncan draws you into a typical African diaspora club night-out in New York City, sometime in 2014, a scene with which he was familiar. The second single on the project with its intentionally re-recording of ERA’s popular “Dorime” from the very heavily remixed song “Ameno,” allows for a playful yet addictive reaction. Diaspora Night is a measured club song that gets you hyped as you sip a glass of Cîroc, Martell, or Hennessy.
5. “Waste Time”
We have all experienced the initial start of dating or “Talking,” where not that much talking takes place. Texting has replaced phone conversations as the preferred route of communication in today’s social experience. However, not picking up calls can be seen as a sign of “no interest.” Duncan explores this scenario on “Waste time,” where frustration is the resulting feeling.
6. “Catching Feelings”
Afro-beats meets RnB meets Dancehall in this sexy vibrant and soundgasmic tune. Duncan Daniels brings the vibe, courting the listener, inviting them to his sound. The lyrics are masked and cryptic which is one of the distinctions with Duncan’s song-written abilities.
7. “Iwo Nikan”
Drawing inspiration from recently becoming a father and knowing the world she will grow up into, Duncan penned down this beautiful song to remind her that she is unique and beautiful the way she is and does not have to be pressured by the social factors that plague young girls in today’s world. In our current social media climate, the pressure of having the perfect look, skin, or clothes, have driven young teens to depression and suicide in severe cases. We should teach our children to be comfortable in their skin and love themselves, which is the greatest love of all, to quote the late Whitney Houston.
8. “The Rhythm”
Feel good Amapiano vibes! Everybody loves them, right? Duncan Daniels finds a way to stylistically infuse his originality to the south African piano sound. Another characteristic of this body of work is the symmetry between every track and how they blend collectively. The sound is catchy yet smooth, you listen and cannot escape the Rhythm, keeping your feet tapping and your head bobbing.
9. “Tears On My Eyes”
As the album nears its conclusion, Duncan Daniels explores the deep emotional turmoil that comes with heartbreak. A sweet yet sad afrobeat song, Duncan adds a hyperrealism element in the writing style that immerses the listener into the emotional turmoil of a breakup.
10. “Climbing Higher”
The perfect closer for this album. Giving God thanks for the journey so far and greater heights in the future. Duncan ends this project with faith laced lyrics and an acknowledgment of the grace upon his journey, signaling elevation. Climbing Higher is a feel-good optimistic song driving the project to its conclusion.
Stream or download ‘Songs of Limitless Optimism — S.O.L.O’