On Transgressor, Michigan music scene mainstay Tunde Olaniran's first widely available full-length solo album, the multifaceted singer, musician, and all-around showman fearlessly traverses genres and makes powerful statements in favor of individuality and personal freedom. On the album's opening title track, he proclaims "I'm not afraid, I'm a transgressor," and "Namesake" states that "If I can be me, then you can be yourself." Olaniran's passionate vocals fluidly switch between quick-witted rapping, ecstatic yelping, and heartfelt crooning with equal parts humor, seriousness, and heartache, all delivered with a boundless sense of enthusiasm. His intricately detailed self-produced tracks are filled to the brim with sounds, occasionally incorporating swelling strings for dramatic effect (as on "Let Me Go"), but also pausing in order to highlight key points in his lyrics. "Up & Down" and "Paladin" briefly resurrect the Rio favela funk sound that was all the rage with hipster blogs circa the mid-2000s, while other tracks incorporate brassy, bass-heavy trap beats, switching up to more fast-paced electro beats for emphasis when necessary. "Don't Cry" breaks from the more club-friendly sounds with light, tasteful guitars and lively horn arrangements, featuring a golden age-worthy guest rap from Invincible. "Let Me Go" and "KYBM" are intense relationship-themed songs, while "Diamonds" humorously raps about trying to keep it real while being broke ("Nothing in my pocket but a five dollar bill, guess I'll go to Taco Bell and get a combo meal"). At times, Olaniran runs the risk of showboating, particularly with his flamboyant, multi-octave vocals. However, his ambition and talent cannot be denied, and his creative spirit and positive messages make Transgressor a strong, energetic effort.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson