6 songs, with a running time that just pushes just into the 20-minute mark, Tiwa packs this EP with expressions of love. It reads out like a local love letter shared between a hopelessly romantic Juliet to her Romeo. “Na because of you wey I get goosebumps…This one na Julie Julie and Romeo, Original ogbongolo bo bo oh (bo bo bo bo bo bo),” She explains on ‘All over’, a record which has become popular, powered by its passionate theme.
A kind of urban pop-iness runs deep through the EP, and the ‘Pon Pon’ softness of ‘Ma lo’ even features superstar Wizkid. The mid-tempo vibe is cut through by unmitigated title banger ‘Sugarcane,’ but this EP is definitely the project for the mushy times. Get ready to embrace love.
3-Worth Checking Out
To find out why this is so, I have called endless list of musicians who are from the East, both popular and rising ones to share with the public the reason why they have never publicly confronted the topic. None has declared their support or openly criticised the group. If your entire consumption of social media, is from musicians then you would tend to believe that this isn’t one of the most controversial and trending topics in the country.
It’s almost like our musicians don’t exist in Nigeria, neither do they follow the news or social media outlets. Not one tweet, one Instagram clip, one share of anything related, or anything else has elicited a reaction from them, and this has created a gap, one that feeds neither part of the conversation about the desires of a people for self-actualization.
Almost every musician who I called to comment on the Biafran situation refused to talk to me. The most recurrent official response was “No comment.” And then a couple of artists were, “Omo, you want make I enter trouble’.
During the civil war in 1967, everybody was affected. All Eastern musicians who generally were dominating the music scene in the country with Highlife were affected. Although there are no records of them contributing to the war effort, they were affected.
After the civil war in the 1960s, Igbo musicians were forced out of Lagos and returned to their homeland. The result was that highlife ceased to be a major part of mainstream Nigerian music, and was thought of as being something purely associated with the Igbos of the east.
“I think none of us wants to be associated with something that might affect our possibility to achieve success,” a young rapper told me under the strict plea for anonymity. “Nobody would like to have their chance at personal success hindered by fighting for a cause that might not be successful.”
“Let’s face it, nobody is sure that we will get the Biafra that our fathers fought for, and our youths are struggling to achieve.”
Another artist, who also pled anonymity said although he is led in his heart to pursue the cause due to what it stands for, the fact that it is now illegal means he might lose a lot. “I don’t want to be picked up and locked up for the cause. My family will run mad,” he explained soberly on the phone.
These were the only two people who could speak to me about it. Some others simply begged that I don’t even mention their name in this story because whether they comment or not, it would have an effect on their personal lives.
The whereabouts of the Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of IPOB is uncertain at the moment. And so is the future of the group. There are conflicting opinions on his disappearance, with sources claiming that he either fled back to the UK or got arrested by the Nigerian army. No one truly knows.
I ask another Highlife artist if he would sing a song about him, or praise his efforts at rally Igbo youths to a cause. His answer was speculative and conditional.
“If he is alive and one day Biafra becomes real, I will be the first to record a song for him. But for now, there is no way I will do it. I don’t anybody to pick me up.”
"I have seen different videos of him talking about different artistes that are young enough to be his kids.
"I would have thought that if he was such a role model, there were better ways he could pass his message across but I have nothing against him. I have nothing more to say about him. I feel people just have different ways of expressing themselves."
Eedris Abdulkareem has always had a reputation of being belligerent thanks to a 2004 altercation with American rapper 50 Cent. A brawl was set in motion when he attempted to occupy a seat reserved for the world star.
The latter's bodyguards however prevented him for doing so which resulted in a fight that caused 50 to cancel the remainder of his performance. History remembers this as the beginning of a decline in Abdulkareem's career.
Three years after, the singer renders an apology to the rapper at the KORA Awards held in Abuja. Hatchets were buried but Abdulkareem's career stayed dead.
His work in the genre has made him one of the most influential musicians of the world. His albums The ’69 Los Angeles Sessions, Best of the Black President, Expensive Shit, Live!, Zombie and The Underground Spiritual Game remaining popular.
2017 marks 20 years since the death of Fela, and his music has spread across the world. Fela’s genre has become engrained into world music traditions, birthing movements and inspiring thousands of records. Away from his sons Femi and Seun Kuti who have furthered Afrobeat, outside Nigeria, the genre has taken root. Bands such as Antibalas, Tony Allen, London Afrobeat collective, and many others have performed the genre in various continents.
Elements of Afrobeat have been passed down, stripped and utilised to create new records. In Fela’s home country, Nigeria, a new generation of artists have tapped into his music to create hit records. Artists such as Wizkid, Davido, Tekno, Runtown, Mr Eazi and more are pushing for international recognition.
It is this root that has made Western media coin the controversial term Afrobeats, - Adding an ‘s’ – to classify African pop sounds.
“I think the fact is a new population of the world are calling our new strain of pop music coming out of Nigeria Afrobeats. We have chosen to interpret that in a positive way, while acknowledging very clearly and repeatedly the difference between ‘Afrobeat’ and ‘Afrobeats’,” says Sam Onyemelekwue, Managing Director, Trace Nigeria.
“And the fact that the world is now calling Wizkid, and others Afrobeats. We will continue to highlight that difference. What we don’t want is for the young movement of music to lose the power of what Afrobeats is, what people make that connection to. So we don’t mind the term. We are yet to get Yeni onboard because she said Baba (Fela) is still knocking her head for the mistake,” he said.
Varied and strong as the current Afrobeat scene is, no performers so far are going to take the style away from Fela Kuti.
Fela’s influence stretches beyond Africa into distant lands. And artists from all over the world continue to draw inspiration from him. The latest is Wyclef Jean who released a new song titled ‘Fela Kuti’.
Global superstar and famed Hip hop artist, Wyclef is working on a new album titled “Carnival III: The Fall and Rise of a Refugee.” The project which will be released under the label, Heads Music is due to hit the market on September 15, 2017.
The 12-track project will be Jean’s eighth studio album since releasing his debut album “The Carnival” in 1997.
To lead the album though is track drawn straight from Fela’s breast, and named after the legend. The track, ‘Fela Kuti’ samples “Eko Ile.” It was produced by Supah Mario, who also worked on Young Thug’s ‘Wyclef Jean’ single, housed on his 2016 “Jeffery” album.
Fela’s vocals, the gongs and horns come on, reworked with a rattling emphatic drum creating an immersive yet muscular groove, upon which Wyclef delivers his story about a lady who is on an adventure in Hollywood and wants to have fun. He tells her: “The voodoo is workin' on me, Dance like Fela Kuti, Mama say ma coosa Energy”
“I decided to name it Fela Kuti because, for me, I feel like we be thinking of [Bob] Marley, we give a lot of people from our past props, so when the kids hear Fela Kuti, I really want them to Google it,” Wyclef tells XXL.
“Fela Kuti studied jazz in England. Wyclef studied jazz at Vailsburg High School. Fela Kuti then went back to his country and tried to help his country by running for president. Wyclef, you know, did the same thing.
Then, Fela, through all his obstacles and all that, his music is what pillared him right back to the top. He understood the strongest way to help politically was to make sure the music was bangin.’
So for me, the same way kids can have songs called ‘Wyclef Jean’ who are influenced by me, I want kids to know who Fela is and what he means.”
Beyonce have recorded a full-length album based on the Nigerian’s material. Her recent African-themed baby shower also had Fela’s music as part of its soundtrack.
Wyclef isn’t the only popular international artist to get inspired by Fela. “We did a whole Fela album that didn’t go up,” Producer The-Dream wrote, in an entry for Beyoncé song End of Time on lyric annotation site Genius. “It was right before we did [album] “4.” We did a whole different sounding thing – about 20 songs. She said she wanted to do something that sounds like Fela.”
2017 marks 20 years since his death from AIDS in 1997. And as the years go by, Fela’s music continues to inspire across the world.
"You must be a stupid man. You are a fool. Number one you sound like Ghanaians. That's why you are accepted, that's why you are not original but because its African music that's why you are accepted. Who are you to say a thing like that? That's pride" said Eedris Abdulkareem.
Eedris Abdulkareem referenced Davido in his diss to Mr Eazi and berated the HKN singer for dissing Dele Momodu on a couple of songs in 2016. The veteran rapper aired Mr Eazi and Davido for lacking respect for their elders.
Dancehall artiste, Patoranking however disagrees with him based on claims that the interaction between Nigerian and Ghana musicians have been going on for quite some time.
“We have been having this cultural exchange with Ghana way back since the time Tuface sang ‘My love’ which featured VIP from Ghana. Tic Tac and Tony Tetuila sang ‘Fefe ne efe.’
"The musical cultural exchange between Nigeria and Ghana has been going on even before I finished secondary school. It is false for Mr. Eazi to say he started that style of music because he did not help me sing my hit song, ‘My Woman.’
"I did it myself and the song is a global hit song. It is the biggest afrobeat song in the Caribbean. I do not agree with his statement. It is wrong," Patoranking told Punch News.
The latter is in fact one of the Nigerian music stars promoting more connection with Ghanaian artistes. A couple of hit tracks with rapper, Sarkodie has seen him easily gain relevance at home and abroad.
His objection to Eazi's comments follows a list of responses from fans on social media and some news organzations.
These two can't seem to get enough of themselves as they are always ready to let everyone who cares to listen that they are in love and would be in it for a long time.
Over the past few months, these two lovebirds have shared pictures of themselves on Instagram, damning the consequences of the ever-prying eyes of the public.
To solidify their love, Juliet Ibrahim, and her boyfriend, Iceberg Slim both got matching tattoos. Iceberg Slim got a tattoo that reads "LO" and Juliet Ibrahim got a "VE" tattoo. They have the tattoos on similar places (their arms) and when put together it spells love. They also have identical love symbol tattoos.
Aside from drooling in love, Juliet Ibrahim is using her foundation, "Juliet Ibrahim Foundation" to raise funds for the victims of the flood that ravaged Benue state.
Among those who have helped in cushioning the plight of the flood victims is Made Men Music Group C.E.O Ubi Franklin.
‘Mummy Jam Jam’ couldn’t have picked a better title for her mini project which comes out in a few days. The singer has always been the true definition of sweetness. She conjures it with each step. It lingers on her breath as she exhales, dances in her shoes and flows through her syrupy music. Even when she sleeps, it envelopes her in a cloud of tender dreams, rushing sugar, and scents of lavender.
She is the beautiful sugarcane; the source of all things beautiful, pristine, and sexy. A standard for her peers, and the epitome of everything a female pop star should be like. That’s why she is Tiwa Savage . It’s the only explicable reason for her success and greatness. No one has done it like her, and none looks primed to take her throne for now.
“Sugarcane” comes after the success of her album “R.E.D”, which was released at the end of 2015 and lingered through 2016, providing the singles ‘If I start to talk’, ‘Bad’ and ‘Attention’.
Just like the last project, Wizkid is also featured on this one. He comes in on the sixth and final track, ‘Ma Lo’ , which is produced by Spellz. The last time Wizzy and Tiwa collaborated, it was for ‘Bad’, a single that pushed through radio and TV as a hit, and got a Headies nomination.
Tiwa’s new project is coming in at a time when it characteristically rains albums in Nigeria. Already the project-race is on this year, with many LPs released or in waiting. But somehow you get the feeling that “Sugarcane” EP will hold its own. Afterall, it isn’t anything. Something. One thing.