All-Star Indiana Pacers guard and DMV native Victor Oladipo is not the first NBA player to make music — Lance Stephenson, Lonzo Ball and Nick Young are just a few of the ballers-turned-artists — but not many players have been able to actually make songs worth listening to. Oladipo’s new R&B album V.O. is a sensual eight-track work that actually sounds legit.
There is no question that Oladipo can sing. He’s definitely improved since crooning Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” during the 2015 Slam Dunk Contest. He sounded pretty good then, and not just for a professional athlete. He released his debut E.P. Songs for You in 2017, and on Friday he dropped V.O., which should excite music and basketball fans alike.
Oladipo’s album boasts an impressive list of featured artists. Half the songs have features, but they’re arranged well, and Oladipo mostly shines equally with them.
“Lights On,” the opener, features Tory Lanez, who saves the song. Oladipo sounds much stronger later in V.O., but “Lights On” gives a respectable taste of the erotic lyrics and satisfying beats to come.
PnB Rock is featured on one of the album’s highlights, “Connected.” His voice meshes perfectly with Oladipo’s, and unlike in “Lights On,” where Lanez carries the track with his few lines, the artists sound fairly matched.
Oladipo’s voice is not heard solo until V.O.’s third song, “Forward,” which proves he can stand on its own. He shines while singing over a smooth beat. “Forward” sounds professional and could easily be mistaken for a song by a mainstream R&B artist.
He also sings alone on “Testify,” another standout track. Its mature, more expressive lyrics are a necessary break from the album’s earlier sexual lyrics, which lacked substance. Thankfully, his album concludes with the same feeling. “Funny Thing About Love” shows emotion and genuineness.
“That’s the funny thing about love/ It won’t be who you want/ It’ll be who you need,” he sings on the final song that end the album on a high note.
Despite some notable moments, V.O. begins to sound repetitive halfway through. The lyrics and beats come off as a little too similar, and tracks begin to blend together. Some variety would have been very beneficial, but that’s understandable given Oladipo’s lack of professional musical experience.
It’s worth noting that Oladipo made such a solid album while being a full-time NBA player. The R&B artist’s sweet voice, combined with solid beats, makes for a likable sound. There’s certainly room for growth, but the impressive moments on this album only increase the anticipation for his next release.