The past 5 years of music in Nigeria has seen a pop culture revolution which has taken power from the artiste and dumped it into the hands of the public, and the money bags.
Talent is no longer the top requirement in the music industry. It no longer matters whether your vocal chords can hit the chords, or they are more suiting to less artsy engagements. What leads the path now is the ability to get a beat.
For the public, the systematic affinity and consumption of high-tempo Afropop singles has made the industry and all it’s arms largely unipolar, with every other genre playing bit-part roles in the provision of music.
Tiwa Savage’s return to music after time out due to pregnancy has been celebrated. The pop queen returns with a body of work, the “R.E.D” album, which steadily keeps growing in influence and reach. Promotion of the album is on, and media interviews are her way of life right now.
Studying the “R.E.D” album and how it is being promoted would give you a perfect representation of the industry, and how 'balancing' your craft to suit yourself, your sponsors, and the public is the goal. First, the high-tempo songs are getting their day in the sun. ‘African Waist’, and ‘Standing Ovation’, are the current leaders of the album, with more low-tempo gems placed on hold. Songs such as ‘Make time’, and ‘If I start if I start to fall’, are currently album fillers, for now.
Critics were quick to point out the disparity between the clasy Tiwa Savage brand and the ‘street girl’ image she sold with Olamide in ‘Standing Ovation’. But Tiwa understands balance in music.
“When we are starting out as musicians, we're hustling, we're connected to the streets and then when you get really popular sometimes it’s easy to disconnect and I never want that to happen because I never want to be so far away from my core fans and supporters,” She tells BBC.
“I never want to get to a place where it’s hard for people to reach me or approach me. I really wanted the son and video to connect with people.”
Away from love and all it’s friends, “R.E.D” album also does contain a song which reads off as a motivational speech for women to speak out. ‘Say it’ is the title, and Tiwa explains why it made the cut. Turns out it was for emotional battery and domestic violence.
“As African women we go through a lot, physically, emotionally so basically the song is saying we need to talk about it.” She says.
“One of the things I think we don't do in Africa is that a lot of things we should talk about we don't. I experienced that in pregnancy. After my pregnancy I went through a tough time emotionally, and when I’m trying to talk to my older aunts, they go ''We don't go through that as African women, we don't go through depression and am like but we do. So, we need to say it and talk about it. So, that song was from me basically encouraging us African women that our first step is to be vocal and talk about things because we're strong.”
It is songs like these that have made Tiwa into more than just a singer. She also plays a big role in inspiring the younger generation of women, who look upon her success and find motivation to model their lives after her. But in 2013, Tiwa Savage released a raunchy video to promote her song ‘Want it’, a section of the public called for her head. That cannot be the work of a role model, they said.
“I didn't regret making the video but we should have made a 18 rating. I still have a sexual side to me and even though I have an obligation and influence on young kids, Women and teenagers and people in their twenties also look at me so I have to find that balance. That’s what myself and my team got from that.”
The “R.E.D” album is set to have a new extended version released. This version will contain songs from Wizkid and Psquare, and will be released on all digital platforms for purchase.