Ayra Starr or Oyinkansola Sarah Aderibigbe was born on 14th June 2002, in Cotonou, Bénin Republic, to Nigerian parents.
During her college years, she was a victim of bullying by her classmates because of her age and appearance. Her strategic response to this unhealthy experience was music.
“I would listen to Nicki Minaj on my way to school, and I’d feel like the second Nicki Minaj.” She claimed. Her musical career started in 2020 when she posted her original work on Instagram. The song caught the attention of label executive, Don Jazzy, who signed her to Mavin Records immediately.
Earlier in 2021, she released her eponymous debut extended playlist. The EP became the second most-streamed Nigerian female project during the first quarter of the year. The EP reached number one on Apple Music in 5 countries and has accumulated over 15 million streams across Spotify, YouTube & Audiomack. Away, the EP’s lead single peaked at number four on Nigeria’s TurnTable Top 50 chart. OkayAfrica also included the song in their list of “The 9 Best Nigerian Songs of January 2021”.
19 and Dangerous
On 6th August 2021, Ayra finally released her debut album titled 19 and Dangerous. The album which contains 10 tracks employs the services of her label executive, Don Jazzy, Louddaa, Andre Vibez and London in its production. The album is a reflection of what young adults born in the early 2000s face as they attain physical and psychological growth.
No wonder 19 and Dangerous is a table where Ayra Starr discusses Generation Z related issues like heartbreaks, intimacy, a show of pride and arrogance, mistakes, its consequences and the regrets that follow, unreciprocated love, cheating, celebrity lifestyle, self-esteem etc. Cast, track one, produced by Louddaa, opens with a prologue in which the singer avers that humans are responsible for making life difficult for themselves by allowing others to hurt them with opinions that are “insignificant”. This is a show of low self-esteem and Ayra Starr, with high self-esteem, is here to correct it.
The slow Dancehall tune is the part of Ayra Starr that does not care about people’s impressions of her. After all, “I come to this life all alone”.
Fashion Killa, track two, produced by London, is a medium through which the singer reminds people of her abilities and qualities. One may perceive Ayra Starr as being proud on this song because she clearly exemplifies that in lyrics like: “I put the water in the ocean in the city that I’m from/I light the room in the dark ’cause my bling is a torch/I watched fashion die today in the mirror that I saw”.
On this Dancehall tune, Ayra Starr verbosely proclaims herself as one who does “fashion” better. Over time, similarities have been drawn between Ayra Starr and Tems, this is true. The two female singers share two obvious things in common; voice, delivery and this I-don’t-give-a-fvck/don’t-mess-with-me themes they reflect in their music.
Lonely, track three, another Dancehall tune produced by Louddaa, is the plight of a nineteen years old Ayra Starr who finds herself in a relationship where her lover does not reciprocate the feelings she got for him. He has been gone for “four weeks” and the songstress misses him. No one can blame her, she’s a “human being”.
As much as it is surprising to see the same proud and I don’t-give-a-damn Ayra Starr we saw on the first two tracks, now begging a guy on the third track, it is even sadder to know she has this kind of nonchalant lover who would not even pick up his calls. This is proof that every stubborn female has a melting point. Snitch, track four, feat.
American born female singer known as Fousheé is a trap song produced by London. The nonchalant lover on track three finally breaks Ayra Starr’s heart on track four and she’s all out to “make you cry”. She wants revenge for being “f*cked up” and cheated on. Fousheé brings diversity to the song with her beautiful voice. Snitch is a notification to her heartbreaker to watch out for her revenge. Even the “hoes you’re f*cking” are not safe from her reprisal attack. Toxic, track five, another trap song produced by Don Jazzy this time, continues from where track four stops.
It seems Ayra Starr will never get over the heartbreak. The wound is still very fresh and raw. She never expected the heartbreak hence “I died when you left me”. Her voice is sad: she gave “much”, she got “worse“, “crying my eyes out” and “smoking very much since you left”. Beggie Beggie, track six, feat. CKay, produced by Louddaa, is the first Afrobeats on the album, not without a touch of Highlife tho.
The beat is a testimony to it that Ayra Starr is ready to move on away from her past heartbreak, she’s now ready to embrace love again as she does the toasting herself. This is obviously one of the best songs on this album. The female singer is literally begging the guy to love her, that is rare and out-of-the-world! She begs like a “bambiala” (a word the Yorubas use to refer to street beggars in Lagos).
According to her, this “fine” guy is a “hot cake” and a “husband material”.
Underwater, track seven, produced by Louddaa, is a song of regrets; a ballad of lamentations; soulful even when one does not know what “mess” Ayra has got herself into. She’s “drowning” and “getting tired”. The song attracts sympathy. This track is a hundred per cent Asa type of persona and delivery on a Soul song. An Asa feature would have been the best way to go about it. Ayra Starr has totally messed herself up, now she can only hope that “mi mò! mi mò! ó ma wá, ó ma wá, ó ma bò” (I know! I know! It will come, it will come and go). But is hope tangible enough to hold on to? That is what you got when you cannot swim and yet you still go ahead to jump into a river.
Karma, track eight, produced by Don Jazzy, is another Dancehall tune. In this song, the singer is at the brink of another heartbreak as she finds herself with another cheater who only acts right when she (Ayra) appears “on the paper”.
Bloody Samaritan, track nine and also the lead single of the album, produced by London, is the only Amapiano song on 19 and Dangerous. It is the continuation of Cast, track one, with the singer warning her haters whom she calls “these bad b!tches” that she would not “take sh!t”. She also reminds them that she’s a “vibe killer” and those “watching my stories” and “movements” cannot “kill my vibe”. A wind instrument is used extensively towards the end of this song.
Bridgerton, track ten, is everything Indian, the beat (kudos to Andre Vibez), the flows, the vocals, and delivery, except the lyrics. If she was not speaking English, anyone except an Indian would have mistaken her for an Indian on this song. I guess Ayra is a lover of Indian movies. On this track, Ayra reflects her dangerous but proud sides. She claims “I’m the queen, bow down”, “I make my rules”, “break all of your rules”, “I’m really holy but I’m insane”, “angels follow me”, “I step on your toes with no apologies”, “I’m a boss, I got the sauce”, “I twerk on my throne” etc. This track exudes too much self-esteem and arrogance. It is exactly what Ayra Starr means when she titled her album “19 and Dangerous”. Too much pride for a 19-year-old on track ten. 19 and Dangerous is a beautiful way to debut an album in this current industry. The album closes the same way you will end a prayer with “amen”.
Amin, track eleven, produced by Louddaa is Afrobeats mixed with Dancehall made with percussion instruments like drumbeats and sèkèrè (rattlegourds). The singer says her prayers on this song, pleading to find solace, happiness amongst many other things she hopes will happen.