AUDIO: Zinoleesky – “Grit & Lust” (EP)

In the two years following his grand introduction on 2020’s Chrome, Zinoleesky saw his star power rise thanks to a street-inspired lyrical style that explored the contrast of his weighty ambitions and the extenuating circumstances of his birth. But while the tension between goals and origin has been the crux of his most profound work, the singer has also found time to reflect on the evolving landscape of his life on tracks like the Niphkeys-produced Blessings and Naira Marley, and ponder companionship on songs like Loving You and Rocking.

On 2022’s Grit & Lust, Zinoleesky confirms himself as a transcendent star via the power of his storytelling and witty observations. Across eight songs, the singer (born Oniyide Azeez) pulls threads from his life to create a compelling tapestry of the life of a pop star in the middle of a compelling come-up. Packed with soulful odes and gritty word play punctuated by Zinoleesky’s lithe voice, Grit & Lust is not so much a victory lap as it is a testament of where he is right now.

Personal is an audacious hustler’s anthem that addresses online trolls and his super-sized dreams, while Yan Yan Yan, a hypnotic blend of log drums and prickly horns, finds Zinoleesky bigging up himself. As with everything Zinoleesky, the true clincher on Grit & Lust is how he keeps finding nimble pockets to microcosmically express elation, angst and acceptance that are alien to the de rigeur of street pop, as he does poignantly on the Ayra Starr-assisted Many Roads.

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