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Review: Victor Oladipo, 'V.O.'

The musically talented basketball star drops his feathery debut full-length

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Victor Oladipo looking fresh as hell.

Victor Oladipo is good at a lot of things. We can now add making an album to that list.

Currently in his second year as a member of the Indiana Pacers, the All-Star guard has proven he can lead an NBA squad both on and off the court. Oladipo has received praise from coaches, teammates, fans, and broadcasters alike for his shining persona and his relentless work ethic. All of this is certainly much deserved as well.

But with V.O., all of Oladipo’s on-the-court accolades do not matter. Unlike other sports-turned-music stars, in fact, Oladipo sticks strictly to off-the-court subject matter throughout his debut album, never making unnecessary references to his life as a literal baller. Instead, listeners get a proper introduction to Oladipo’s musical side on V.O.—an alter ego of sorts that writes sensual R&B songs with the help of world-class music stars.

Out today (Nov. 30) via Victor’s own Feathery Music Group Inc. label, V.O. is an eight-song collection that explores a wealth of modern R&B moods. A follow-up to Oladipo’s introductory Songs for You EP, V.O. features production by Grammy award-winning songwriter Bongo (Big Sean, Jeremih, The Game) and R&B songwriter Eric Bellinger (Brandy, Chris Brown, Usher), with A-list guest appearances from Tory Lanez, PnB Rock, and Trey Songz.

V.O. opens up with the album’s debut single, “Lights On”—a club-friendly thumper featuring Tory Lanez.  “I make it rain on that pussy / Make it thunderstorm everyday on that pussy,” sings Oladipo, giving listeners an initial taste of V.O.’s lyrically erotic nature. In his bombastic, auto-tuned guest appearance on the track, Lanez makes a quick mention of former Yankees star Derek Jeter. Somewhat surprisingly, this direct sports reference marks the only one of its kind on V.O.’s entirety.

The album’s second song, “Just In You,” opens with a fluttering guitar riff, marking V.O.’s first tender moment. “I don’t know how to love / Show me how,” sings Oladipo in ear-grabbing fashion. This is followed by album standout, “Forward”—a Frank Ocean-esque number overflowing with warm R&B feels. “Baby let me tell you about this here / Something that you might need to know / Your clothes were made in another place / But were meant to be on my flo’,” Oladipo sings over top of a smooth, sexy bass line.

The PnB Rock-featuring “Connected” comes next, marking another one of V.O.’s highest points. “She already know I'm connected / I'm the only one she wanna mess with,” Oladipo sings in a hook as golden as Boomer’s hair. After a rather forgettable fifth track, Oladipo brings Trey Songz on board for “Drown,” with the two belting it out together by track’s end. “I wanna drown in your love / She said hell yeah,” sings Oladipo over a beat that sounds appropriately underwater.

After a standout performance on “Testify,” Oladipo caps off his debut full-length with the song “Funny Thing About Love.” Another club-friendly number, the album’s uplifting closer feels a little out-of-place in the overall context of V.O. but still fits Oladipo’s glowing personality. “That’s the funny thing about love / It won’t be who you want / it’ll be who you need,” he sings.

An impressive debut effort, V.O. proves that Oladipo is not your average “basketball player making music.” Unlike previous NBA stars who have given music a try, Oladipo leaves his hooping business on the court in order to make the most of his singing talent in the studio. While there’s certainly growth to be made, V.O. marks a solid opening statement from the aspiring R&B artist. It will be exciting to see where he takes things from here.

Writer - Music, Comedy & Sports

An Indianapolis native, I love all things music, especially of the local variety. My other passions also include comedy, social justice, and the Indiana Pacers.