Deep Cuts: Viral Wreckage By Aunty Rayzor

The Nigerian rap artist shines over transcontinental club sounds on her wild and expressive debut for Hakuna Kulala, finds Skye Butchard

Where is the most exciting club music being made right now? Brazil, with baile funk? Nigeria, with cruise and afrobeat? Or Uganda, with Nyege Nyege and Hakuna Kulala’s imperious releases? A good argument could be made for all three. In the Summer of 2021, Nyege Nyege live-streamed a DJ set from In/Out Festival in Kampala, Uganda. In it, artists from all three countries party with each other, swapping the mic between fits of laughter and impromptu dances.

DJ Cris Fontedofunk represents São Paulo with gloriously unhinged funk beats. Soon, Nigerian rap artist Aunty Rayzor and Ugandan MC Yallah are dancing in front of the camera. They’re having a ridiculous amount of fun. By the end of the track, Aunty Rayzor is on her hands and knees in hysterics, while MC Yallah shakes for the crowd. At one point, The two sing “Uganda!”, “Nigeria!” and “Brazil!” at each other with beaming smiles. For all their clear taste and technical ability, their energy is just as important to the recipe

Two years on, it’s increasingly undeniable that these respective sounds are shaping the underground. Nyege Nyege and baile funk tapes have especially exploded in recognition over the past year. MC Yallah’s recent record Yallah Beibe is one of the most confident hip-hop releases in recent memory, and it rides on various strains of cutting-edge club music. Now, with her debut record Viral Wreckage on Hakuna Kulala, it’s Bisola Olungbenga’s turn.

As Aunty Rayzor, she has relentless energy. Her delivery is fluid and fast. She moves between Yoruba and English with ease and charisma. She demonstrates her power and dexterity whether rapping over raw Nigerian club beats or elegant and expensive sounding instrumentals. She has an ear for hooks, homing in on a single phrase or word until it burrows into your brain. Notably, her first album expands its scope beyond the club or one scene. This is a full-length statement of dominance, over a transcontinental array of sounds.

Viral Wreckage has all the bite you’d expect if you’ve caught Olungbenga’s live sets, but it also reveals the depth and ambition of a more seasoned artist. There are plenty of hard-nosed party tracks on this record, but there are also nods to vintage Afrobeat, Alté and surprising left-field songwriting experiments. She teams up with Congolese artist and labelmate Titi Bakorta for two guitar-based tracks. The first, a woozy jam called ‘Fall Back’, showcases Aunty Rayzor the singer. Bakorta’s eccentric and passionate verses contrast with her slick, laidback choruses. Both have star presence, no matter the mode they’re operating in. Later, the hyped closer ‘Sise’ combines new and old Afrobeat sounds in a wiry and addictive loop that Olungbenga makes her own.

On the opening track ‘Stuttrap’, she enlists Japanese producer Scotch Rolex. He’s already responsible for some of the wildest instrumentals of the moment on his collaborative work with Shackleton and as part of WaqWaq Kingdom. ‘Stuttrap’ lives up to that bar with satisfying stop-start beatwork and a metallic sheen. Aunty Rayzor raps in aggressive staccato, matching the snarl of the 808 underneath. The record quickly becomes a showcase of Auntie Rayzor the collaborator. Each partnership has clear chemistry, and each beat is tailored to her delivery.

The following ‘Doko’ with Slimcase is another successful double act. The two follow up on each other’s lines and play around with call and response on the ridiculous earworm of a chorus. Still, Auntie Rayzor steals the track on her final verse, where she ups the venom, spitting out each line with a satisfying bluster.

She teams back up with DJ Cris de Fontedofunk on ‘Bounce’ (you can see her having a blast performing it in the CYPHERFUNK Livestream). It hits hard on record, where she glides over the stuttering swung synth that fills the mix and gives the track its edge. These off-kilter club tracks are her bread and butter so it’s no surprise that she thrives, finding new pockets to keep the groove captivating.

‘Tobaya’ featuring Ugandan producer Ill Gee is a stoned nocturnal R&B track, water-soaked and floaty like the subdued moments on Kelela’s Raven. The bright synth lines and dry drum programming push and pull with classic West African rhythms. Olungbenga is all confidence and opulence, packing cold words into delicate vocal runs: “You are not the guy for me… You are not the type for me / I’m a big girl”. You picture her riding driving through Lagos at midnight in a fancy car, brushing everything off.

The record’s more relaxed back half isn’t as consistently fiery and inventive. Moments like ‘You Not Worthy Of My Love’ don’t stick in the brain as easily, especially when flanked by strong songs in each direction. But it’s not long before the record is impressing again. The early single ‘Murder’ is a flurry of technical wraps and bubbling tension. Its skeletal horrorcore-leaning beat from frequent MC Yallah collaborator Debmaster sits in a sweet spot between threatening and campy, leaving plenty of negative space for Aunty Rayzor to fill with villainous pomp. By the time it spills over into breathless gasps for air, it’s earned its deadly name.

Olungbenga chose the name Rayzor for an obvious reason – it’s a small blade that can cut deep. She was likely thinking about flows like this, where her unshakable aggression could match any rapper. Viral Wreckage has that sharpness, but it’s more surgical precision and careful grooming than it is scrappy knife fights. She could go just about anywhere from here, whether it’s São Paulo, Berlin or something built just for herself. On ‘Nina’, she comes back to Debmaster, lays down another killer hook and raps her heart out. This time, she’s more relaxed, basking in it. It already feels like she doesn’t have anything to prove. Looking back at that CYPHERFUNK stream, you hope she’ll have this much fun for many records to come.

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