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Is Kizz Daniel Afrobeats’ most underrated songwriter? [Pulse Editor's Opinion]

The lyrics is perhaps the last thing most listeners notice in a Kizz Daniel song.

Is Kizz Daniel Afrobeats’ most underrated songwriter?

This is in part because critics have long dismissed his writing as rudimentary and elementary in rhyme and arrangement.

This writer, however, holds a contrary view that while Kizz Daniel might favour a simple approach to writing, anyone willing to take a closer look will find depth in the simplicity.

The dismissal Kizz Daniel's penmanship suffers is similar to what Afrobeats songs with simple lyricism face with such songs dismissed as unsubstantial beyond the good times they offer (vibes).

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Amidst the constant jabbing at the meaning and intrinsic qualities of Afrobeats, it's high time to point out that while lyricism is not the focal point of Afrobeats, its stock in trade as it is for many other genres still demands quality lyrics.

Enter Kizz Daniel, a shining example of an artist whose stellar writing is lost in the motif of his work which is to offer a good time.

The indefatigable Kizz Daniel kicked off his 2024 with the release of a 4 track EP ‘Thank Alot (TZ) that packed an accomplished blend of indigenous genres, smooth melodies, and groovy production.

The lead single 'Twe Twe' combines Nupe folk music, Yoruba Tungba drums, and Afrobeats arrangement for a hit record whose lyrics has unsurprisingly been a subject of derision among some observers.

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The way I see it, the lyrics is an exemplary piece of genre-specific writing. Kizz Daniel's decision to substitute the word "Twerk'' for the localised variant "Twe'' helps the track stay rooted at home.

Similarly, the vivaciousness of the lyrics fits perfectly into the type of folk music it borrows from so much that it sounds like something written by a jolly band leader in a palm wine joint. This is genre-specific writing that only a few artists can manage.

Even when Kizz Daniel deploys Yoruba commentary in the mid-tempo Juju music infusing 'Showa', his writing not only communicates the good time he promises but is also genre suitable.

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While the writing on this record appears simplistic, its thematic depth and social relatability are compelling when one pays closer attention. Take for example the hook where he says:

"S'oní capital business? S'owá?/S'oní character deaconess?/S'owá?/Can you wake up around 4:30/s'owá?/To make breakfast for me?/S'owá?"

In these lines, Kizz Daniel, like a rich man who craves a good time, asks his love interest if she has the capital to start a business. Then proceeds to lay out the criteria for her to get the capital from him such as possessing the character of a deaconess(a ranking church official) and an ability to always tend to his needs by alluding to the viral tweet of the woman who woke up at 4:30 AM to make breakfast for her husband, before adding sexual innuendos that further ground the music in the Yoruba cultural essence that drives it.

While songs like 'Twe Twe' and 'Showa' are mostly in Yoruba hence the quality of the writing might be lost on some listeners, Kizz Daniel's penmanship still shines in 'Sooner' and 'Too Busy To Be Bae' where he deploys English and Pidgin.

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Playing on the word "I wish I met you sooner," which is notoriously famous among Nigeria's promiscuous men, Kizz Daniel tells the story of an Oliver Twist with a desire for multiple women on the dancehall bounce of 'Sooner'.

On 'Too Busy To Be Bae', Kizz Daniel shares his lack of tolerance for romantic relationships through impressive commentary that documents the experiences that inform his decision.

The relatability of the social commentary and the ease with which Kizz Daniel rhymes words while retaining an impressive ability to stay on the theme is compelling. Impressive writing such as Kizz Daniel deployed in 'TZA' is a thread that runs through his discography. And while this quality might be lost in the simplicity of language and the jolly nature of the music, it deserves recognition.

Kizz Daniel's music is proof that listeners can get a better appreciation of Afrobeats if they recognise that depth, structure, and compelling musicality exist within the simple lyricism and grabby production that drives it.

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*Pulse Editor's Opinion is the viewpoint of an editor at Pulse. It does not represent the opinion of the organisation Pulse.

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