Having been on the sidelines since making his debut in 2019, Color pencil he has had to sit back and watch his labelmates achieve success while anxiously awaiting his turn and wondering if it would ever happen to him.
For Crayon, talent, skill, or even effort was not the issue. So his case is similar to that of several artists who needed the universe to align in their favor and grant them the necessary luck to connect with mass listeners and catapult their career to a commercial level.
Crayon had to wait 4 years, but luck did come in the form of his 2022 Sarzhit single produced ‘(Ijo) Laba Laba’ which put him one foot in the mainstream. He followed with a defining chorus in Mavinthe mega success of ‘Overload’ that further established him as a talent whose time has come.
After achieving mainstream success, Crayon and his label quickly searched for the brand identity necessary to sustain success through a compelling story. he called himself “Captain Hook” and tried to get listeners to co-sign on to the idea of him being the chorusmaster of the industry. However, the identity he sought was not tied to his new found success, but rather resided in his humble beginnings and, like many artists, it is this surge of nostalgia and the gratitude and sobriety that he inspires that shapes Crayon’s identity as the kid who made it out of the hood.
His debut album ‘Trench to win’ is a representation of this identity as he shares his journey from grass to grace in an attempt to sell a plausible story through a beautiful body of work that doesn’t lose its appeal despite its obvious strategic design.
Interestingly, Crayon’s story as a kid from the Trenches began after he found success with ‘Ijo (Laba Laba)’ the lamba-infused Amapiano cut that ultimately got him connecting with a huge listener base. There were images of him visiting the soul of he kills him and in interviews, he captured the experience of growing up in a slum.
Having created a narrative, he had to back it up with befitting music and a track like ‘Modupe’ which is a gospel-inspired record that allowed him to employ relativity in a way many acts have after leaving the hood.
It’s this mindset that drives the album, and while he makes an impressive effort to balance it with easy-going romantic singles and party-starters, the overall idea was to inspire the attention of everyday listeners whose reality he shares.
Crayon’s desire to maintain his place in the mainstream is noticeable in his flow, writing, and cadences that employ the quintessential Afrobeats element which, while always present in his music, now contains a balance of street-related elements through lamba, gospel, and the grass to grace theme.
“I fought in so many wars, I have been through many struggles”, he says in the ‘Calvary Kid’-inspired church opening, where he offers insight into the dreary days of winter while expressing gratitude to those who helped him through the difficult time.
In ‘Boy of the trenches’, he revisits past struggles with Oxlade (an artist who also has a similar career path) and reveals that the desire to get out of poverty was in fact what kept him going.
On the one hand, there is the story of his fights in the Trenches, and on the other, there is the story of his Triumph. Crayon celebrates his overcoming his difficulties and doesn’t shy away from flaunting his success, though he does so with humility and gratitude.
At the start of the party ‘The only’ with the hitmakers of Amapiano Yaba Buluku BoyzCrayon brags about himself and flexes his success and repeats it in ‘Good day’ where he talks about opening bottles, vacationing in Santa Monica, and wearing designers.
Even when she sings about love on the stunning Pop album ‘Ngozi’ with labelmate and fast-rising international superstar ayra starrCrayon still talks about his success while promising a love that comes with a good time.
Born and raised in Lagos States, Crayon pays homage to the lessons and experiences he picked up on the streets of ‘L’Eko’ on a disc containing writing and sounds related to the street. The street-related style stands out in ‘Wetin Go Be’ and ‘Belle Full’, where he finds impressive pockets while employing ragga flows.
Although designed to tell a Trenches to Triumph story right from the cover, the album smoothly balances different sounds to convey a comprehensive listening experience. The tracks constantly flow into each other with a sonic harmony that is complemented by chordal collaborations that highlight the records.
Between thoughtful tracks, love numbers, feel-good records, and party starters, different tracks serve different purposes and cater to different tastes. The productions are held high on all tracks as there is limited experimentation with the compositions staying mostly in familiar sonic territories through a determined effort to give listeners something easily identifiable, tangible and retentive.
‘Trench to win’ it highlights Crayon’s talent and most importantly, his desire to maintain upward momentum. And while at first glance the album attempts to tell a story that some listeners may be reluctant to believe – especially since Grass to Grace’s narrative appears to be a brand creation – there’s an impressive effort to tie it with quality music.
Crayon has waited for her moment in the spotlight. He has been through the gloomy midwinter. And he now he is an artist whose time has come.
Composition, themes and delivery: 1.6/2
Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.7/2