Fireboy DML’s third studio outing sees him shift moods entirely—from the vulnerable, introspective, and romantic persona he revealed on 2019 ’s Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps and 2020’s APOLLO, to the self-assured and unmistakably confident mindset that characterizes this project. That shift was born out of an episode of writer’s block.
“I started working on the project in late 2020, early 2021, but I got stumped,” the artist born Adedamola Adefolahan tells Apple Music. “That was my first-ever writer's block. I was panicking. I was all over the place, thinking I’ve lost my mojo. It was really weird. But I think I grew very fast. I’d given so much of myself into APOLLO that I lost myself for a while. But I spoke to [YBNL label boss and recording artist] Olamide, who told me I just needed to get out of that environment. So, I booked my very first flight to the United States.”
Recording his hit single “Peru” in San Francisco turned out to be just the thing to unlock his creativity. “The experience of seeing that song blow up opened up my mind again,” he explains. “Like, ‘Yo, you’ve been overthinking everything. You’ve been overthinking your songs, your music, your creativity, your output. It’s time to relax and let the universe just take you wherever the universe want to take you to.’ And that gave me a direction for the album.”
Across 14 tracks, Fireboy learns to loosen up. “‘Playboy,’ in this sense, does not connote the playboy that we are familiar with—women, pools, lingerie, doing great stuff,” he clarifies. “This is the phrase ‘boy, play.’ I’m ready to come out to play. I’m ready to step into my superstar element. I’m ready to be more expressive. Not careless, but carefree—someone that’s willing to come out and play, and just have fun and relax. I was always holding back—now, I’m telling my truth.” Here, he breaks down key tracks from Playboy.
“‘Change’ was one of the songs that I recorded before I even left Nigeria. It was not long after December , when the ‘Peru’ remix with Ed Sheeran dropped and everything changed. The song was everywhere. And the song was No. 1 in the United Kingdom for weeks on end. I was excited, but I was also scared for the future. I was scared for what was going on. It’s a song about me reassuring myself and just telling myself to relax. It’s a journey going from uncertainty to braggadocio in a second.”
“Bandana” [Fireboy DML & Asake]
“This was one of those songs where you record, and you just suddenly do not have a hook. Like, every single hook you do does not sound right. I listened to this song over and over again because I couldn’t get it out of my head. I knew it was meant for this album, but I don’t have a hook for it. And then I told Olamide, and he was like, ‘Yo, Asake is a perfect man for you.’ And we sent the record to him, and he came with the fire hook.”
“Basically, it’s not an excuse for men to cheat, but it’s also the realistic point of view explaining why men in Lagos or people in general, people in relationships, cheat on their partners. It’s just me saying, ‘It’s not my fault. It was the alcohol.’ I think it’s just something that I know that a lot of men in Lagos are going to relate to because the dating scene in Lagos, at the moment, is a big mess. Everyone has gone crazy. I think COVID kind of really messed everyone up. So, it’s the perfect song for the perfect Lagos or Nigerian young couple. Like, I’d say, the realistic way to look at things. I’m singing this song purely out of the mindset of an honest young man who’s really true to himself.”
“Adore” (feat. Euro)
“The love songs on this album are not the vulnerable kind of love songs—they are matter-of-fact love songs. Playboys fall in love, too, but they go straight to the point. And that’s what ‘Adore’ is saying: ‘Yo, we might have a problem in this relationship. There are a lot of fuck-ups, but I still adore you. But there are problems in this relationship.’ No matter how much I love someone, or I care for them, I’m always going to point out where the problems are. There are no fairy tales when it comes to love.”
“Diana” (feat. Shenseea) [Fireboy DML & Chris Brown]
“We recorded this song in Ghana, in early 2021, when I started working on the album. Through the producer [Phantom], Chris Brown heard this song, and he went crazy. Like, ‘Yo, I got to be part of this.’ Shenseea came on it through Chris. It’s about how your woman caught you cheating, and she wants to leave. So, it’s just me begging her and telling, ‘I’m so sorry. Don’t leave. OK? It was just sex. Don’t do this to me. Don’t leave. I love you!’ I think it’s going to have a lot of global appeal because of the cultural influences on the record. Me bringing my Afropop element, Chris Brown bringing the R&B, soul, Shenseea bringing in the dancehall vibe. It’s a beautiful, beautiful cultural mix of genres.”
“Compromise” (feat. Rema)
“I love you. I adore you, but I’m only doing all this because I love you. This is about who I am. I am not the ‘buy you flowers, open the door’ kind of guy. I am not the romantic guy, but I’m a sweet guy. But because of you, I will compromise and be romantic for you because I know you love it. And I think Rema was also in that same frame of mind. So, it was easy for both of us to blend into that song. He’s a superstar just like me, and I know what it must be like to be in relationships, just like him.”
“One beautiful thing about this record is that it was made out of love. I was surrounded by my label team, people who really genuinely care about me. And that environment of love gave birth to this song. But I made that song out of a depressed mind. I was sad. People were expecting another album in 2021, but I had a slump. I was wondering what was going on. And ‘Woni won wa mi’ means ‘They said they’ve been looking for me’ in Yoruba. But at that moment [I recorded this], I was singing it in a playful way, but I really felt an amount of pain saying those words. I’m glad it turned out great. It was a huge record, and it kind of taught me a very big lesson: sometimes, trust your instinct as an artist. Sometimes, those first melodies are the right melodies.”
“It’s basically about just enjoying yourself. It represents a point in my life when I had just moved to Lagos from school. I’d never felt so much energy and drive like that in my entire life. I was in my bag. I was making all the right decisions. I was recording all the right songs. I never forget the little moments that make me feel alive, even in my past.
“Peru” [Fireboy DML & Ed Sheeran]
“After ‘Peru’ became big, a lot of artists and leaders been coming out for remixes, like, ‘We’d love to be on this song’ because it was going global. Everybody wanted to be a part of it—big artists, successful artists, talented artists, but it just did not feel right. And then, one day, I got a call [from my team] and they were like, ‘Yo, Ed Sheeran is going to be on the record. Please, say yes.’ And I was so happy. I was jumping around in the studio, so excited. He had sent me some messages, told me how much he loved the record, and sent me a voice note playing his verse. That collaboration is probably one of my most genuine, organic, natural collaborations I’ve ever made, and it just strengthened my resolve to make sure that whenever I’m going to be on a song with someone, I have to really want to be on that song with them.”