In any creative endeavor, I imagine creating a collabo project requires a certain level of skill and understanding of the creative process of parties involved. It often involves bringing together opposites in terms of style, experiences, process, methods and maybe even character to make something that will be one whole in spite of its obvious differences. Compromises will have to be made, not necessarily to adapt but to amalgamate individual styles, find a sweet balance and possibly display strengths and cover for each other’s weaknesses. When The Grey Area consisting of solo artistes 3rty & Kid Marley came together to make music as a duo, you can’t help but acknowledge their courage in taking the leap. The idea was born out of mutual respect and admiration between the two. The first fruit of the duo in form of a full length body of work is here. It’s eponymously titled The Grey Area and it comprises 7 songs with a sonic spectrum with elements ranging from afro-beat, pop, dance hall, fuji, indie-rock, hip-hop.

The band’s first single Sunday Morning released in 2017 was a rock chune created with a purpose. Its mellow guitar riff instantly put you in a reflective mode, possibly reminiscing or hoping for a time in life where things are easy and calm. As if work done on that wasn’t enough, the duo push the envelope when they rework the beat of the song and making it the pilot song of this EP, however Sunday Morning gets a new title – Sorry (may our sunday mornings not turn to sorry). Speaking to 3rty about the beat change “…the instrumental for Sunday Morning was one of the tracks off Tom Mish’s Beat tape so we only had a non-profit license for its use which was why we only released it on SoundCloud.” I had a liking for Sunday Morning and it took time to adjust to the new beat which they lay the same vocals to on this tape, but the purpose and direction with which the former was created is retained on this new version. It’s a game of opposites as 3rty’s slow tempo delivery complements Kid Marley’s hastier approach as he rapidly sings and echoes “All I’m saying is I’m sorry” on the chorus adding some oomph to the song.

On Thots they address betrayal and infidelity unapologetically. 3rty’s songwriting is honest as he sings “she’s calling me bae, she’s calling me boo but she got another that’s she’s calling it too” it serves as a strong summary of a betrayed partner’s ordeal that’s rightly titled. Speaking of titles, it gets on a lighter note on Ogunfe, but its content is far from trivial. Kid Marley’s delivery is calm but fluid, 3rty is in part-storytelling part-preacher mode on some well pulled guitar strings to create a soulful record centered on double themes with conflicting moods; the first covers the good things of life as inspired by their love for food, and the other addresses how ladies turn down ‘good’ men then eventually begin to wonder where all the men have gone when they get pressured from family to get married- a common occurrence in Nigerian culture. Erekere is a bouncy number that calls for a quick shaku shaku dance session, it’s a weird blend of ragga dance hall and fuji music featuring Mokanla11 and interpolates a hit record of Nigerian fuji icon King Wasiu Ayinde Marshall.  Dark Clouds; a record about the uncertainties of life, is energetic and by the time the hook hits you, it feels like you’re been summoned into taking an action.

3rty, the crossed-eye man with a slender stature fondly described as the music babalawo (herbalist) and Kid Marley with his more dominant frame complement nicely to create a collection of songs with closely knitted themes, that sees them finding a formula to address relevant issues in the most relatable way.