Fast-rising Nigerian star Asake roared into New York Friday night with a show in support of his debut album, “Mr. Money With the Vibe,” which features Afrobeats icon Burna Boy as well as American rapper Russ.
Asake (full name: Ahmed Ololade) released his first single in 2018 and has struck an individual blend of West African Afrobeats and South Africa’s Brazilian-tinged ampiano.
His set Friday night at New York’s Palladium Times Square — the largest venue on his tour — saw him backed by a full band, including horns, to bring his jazz-influenced sound into a live setting. Clad in an all-denim ensemble and his trademark black sunglasses, he performed his entire debut album in order, starting with the album’s mid-tempo opener, “Dull.” But as the setlist continued and the songs became more lively, so did Asake.
He launched into some of the fan-made dances his supporters have shared on platforms like TikTok and Instagram reels, and the audience shouted along loudly on the track “Organise” — and at times he even put down his mic and let the crowd sing entire lines, a capella, as his name appeared in huge letter on the LED screen behind him.
Later in the show Asake changed into a more casual outfit, wearing athletic shorts and a dry-fit long-sleeved shirt. He performed the rest of his album, along with an extended remix of “Sungba,” which featured a recording of Burna Boy’s verse.
Asake has an outsized stage presence, and it will be interesting to see how he works in larger venues, with bigger productions and dancers. Even on this, largest room of his tour, at times the stage felt too small for him — which is just about the best problem to have as a performer.