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Tiwa Savage Delivers 6 Sweet Stalks of 'Sugarcane' In Her New EP

The Queen of Afrobeats, Tiwa Savage, delivers another surefooted EP, ensuring her dominance in the afrobeats music sphere.

Tiwa Savage told us she had no plans to put out a project this year until she decided to assemble this Sugarcane EP.

“All Over,” her first big single of the year, is closing in on 8 million views on YouTube, and has since been followed by cross-national collaborations with Awilo Longomba in “Esopi Yo” and Diamond Platnumz on “Fire”.

Signing to Roc Nation already made Savage’s global ambition clear, and early in September she further cemented that by performing at Jay Z’s Made In America festival.

As if to give an idea of what kind of company she keeps these days, she posted a video of Coldplay’s Chris Martin Naija two-stepping to “Ma Lo” on her Instagram page.

Savage’s two full projects—2013’s Once Upon A Time and 2016’s R.E.D—have been fully realized records of surefooted writing and well-chosen production, ensuring dominance in the afrobeats sphere and elsewhere on the continent.

Her new project, Sugarcane, is the EP that makes the case for other acts making EPs over albums. Brevity sharpens focus, or simply leaves little room for fillers, making for great replay value for Sugarcane. Twenty listens in one weekend and one isn't bored or sated.

Both Tiwa Savage and Wizkid combine well on “Ma Lo” as they did on their last song together, “Bad,” off R.E.D.

Produced by Spellz, the melodies on “Ma Lo” are more satisfying, helped by the soothing beat—as well as memorable phrasing that don’t mean much “robo ske ske, robo ske ske” the Pon Pon playbook that is Tekno's “Pana.”

House beats, like juju, are easy sells but Spellz’ own combination has got extra delight on the titular track “Sugarcane,” where Savage’s already honeyed voice, good enough in the verses, is even more effective when she coos the words “something wey sweet like sugarcane” just when the beat breaks.

Savage’s singing straddles Spellz’ beat through its peaks and troughs and the writing, once again, is mature. Another writer would have multiplied the entendres on “sugarcane” for being sweet or phallic, but Savage is an experienced hand and shows restraints.

Mavin Records' First Lady may sometimes draw from Beyonce’s aesthetic in her videos and live performances—who wouldn’t?—but her strongest vocal twin is Brandy.

This is less clear when she sings in Yoruba or pidgin, but undoubtable when the lyrics are mostly in English as in “Hold Me Down.” It may just be the rasp in her voice or the specific ways she harmonizes, a similarity which this listener is only hearing for the first time.

“Me and You” is interesting for several reasons. The naked dembow beat may draw comparisons to Drake and Wizkid’s “One Dance” (rightly for wrong reasons), but the real likeness, if there’s any, is with “XO” by Beyonce.

The song's produced by Maleek Berry, who also provides the background vocals, his nasal singing voice adding good texture. The real interest here is in Savage’s songwriting which, as is elsewhere on the EP, is as precise as you’d expect from an experienced songwriter but never intimate enough to feel personal to her.

“It’s 6 in the evening, I’ve been in your arms all day/I don’t want to get away, your love dey make me stay" or  “It’s 2 in the morning, your eyes say come to me/the moon is the company, I love this your ecstasy,”

In both cases the specific timing promises some specific detail—whether real or imagined—but then followed by commonplace lyrics.

No fan is owed insights into any artist’s life but Savage’s tales of marital strife which played out in the media last year are noticeably absent in her lyrics and music.

Marvin Gaye found new completion on “Here, My Dear,” which was largely about the breakup of his marriage to Anna Gordy. Beyonce also found hers in Lemonade, made even more special by the big apology that is 4:44.

Perhaps these heights, or depths, are still to come for Savage or may not be at all, which is also fine, but there sure is scope for more.

This spoilt listener isn’t complaining though. Each song on Sugarcane is well produced and well-written and of course well sung.

Full marks all round.

Tiwa Savage's 'Sugarcane' is available now.

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Stop What You're Doing Right Now and Watch Falz's New Video 'This Is Nigeria'

The Nigerian rapper tackles his country's social ills in his very own answer to Childish Gambino's "This Is America."

Nigerian rapper, Falz has been known to use his sharp brand of humor to address social ills in his country. Today he's taken it a step further with the release of a new song and video entitled "This is Nigeria" and the outcome is an audacious, decidedly necessary critique of Nigerian society inspired by Childish Gambino's viral video "This is America."

Falz opens the song with a voice over of his father the lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana, discussing the consequences of rampant corruption and exploitation, before adding his own cutting criticism: "This is Nigeria, look how I'm living now, look how I'm living now. Everybody be criminal," he rhymes as chaos ensues all around him.

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Photo courtesy of Nike

The Secret Behind Nike's New Naija Football Kits are Nigerians Themselves

The story behind the bold new uniforms the Super Eagles will be wearing at this year's World Cup.

Partner content from Nike

The new Nigeria football kits are not even out yet, but they're already causing pandemonium with Nigerian press reporting that there have been already 3 million worldwide orders. And it's easy to see why—the designs are daring with a bold nod to Nigerian culture that is very in vogue right now. In addition, UK Grime MCs with Nigerian roots, Skepta and Tinie Tempah have already been photographed in the new jerseys causing a surge of social media chatter about the new look.

But while rock star endorsements and an edgy new design will certainly bring attention, there's no doubt that the real bulk of the demand is due to what is ramping up to be a significant moment in the history of Nigerian football—the 2018 World Cup.



If you don't already know, Nigeria is entering this year's World Cup in Russia with some of the most exciting young players we've seen in years. With youthful talent like Wilfred Ndidi, Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho—all 21—and veteran Olympic captain Jon Obi Mikel ready to take the field in Moscow all eyes are on Nigeria to advance out of Group D and challenge the world for a chance at the cup.

The plan here is to outdo the teams previous international achievement, the 1996 Olympic Gold Medal in men's football which is commemorated on the home kit with a badge recolored in the colors of the '96 gold medal-winning "Dream Team."

The home kit also pays subtle homage to Nigeria's '94 shirt— the first Nigerian team to qualify for the tournament—with its eagle wing-inspired black-and-white sleeve and green torso. But if the allusion to the pasty is subtle, the new supercharged patterns are anything but.

The look of the kit feels particularly in touch with what's going on in youth fashion both in Nigeria and the world and that's no accident. Much of the collection comes in bold print, both floral and Ankara-inspired chevrons, ideas that we've seen entering street wear collections and on the runway in recent years. That's because African and Nigerian style has become a big deal internationally of late. And not just in style, the country's huge cultural industries from Nollywood to Afrobeats have announced themselves on the world stage. This cultural ascendance is reflected in the design.


Courtesy of Nike

"With Nigeria, we wanted to tap into the attitude of the nation," notes Dan Farron, Nike Football Design Director. "We built this kit and collection based on the players' full identities." Along with other members of the Nike Football design group, Farron dug into learning more about Nigeria's players, "We started to see trends in attitude and energy connecting the athletes to music, fashion and more. They are part of a resoundingly cool culture."

In fact OkayAfrica has covered the team's love for music before—even dedicating an edition of the African in Your Earbuds mixtape to John Obi Mikel, Alex Iwobi & Kelechi Iheanacho's favorite songs to get hyped up before a game. When we asked the charismatic trio, they gave us list that included many of the huge Nigerian artists that we love, like Tekno, Wizkid, Yemi Alade and Nigerian-American rapper Wale and also, perhaps surprisingly, perhaps not, Celine Dion.

Nigerian culture has gone global partly through its infectious energy but also because of its vibrant diaspora populations that bring it with them wherever they land. Lagos-born Alex Iwobi whose goal in the 73rd minute to qualified Nigeria for this summer's tournament spent most of his life in London but still reps Naija to the fullest.

"I grew up in England, but Nigeria is my homeland," he says. "When I scored that goal, the players were dancing, the fans were playing trumpets and bringing drums…there was just so much passion and energy. It is always an honor to wear the white and green. To compete this summer is not just our dream, it is also the dream of our fans. Together, we all represent Naija."

This similar energy can be felt in Nigerian communities from Brooklyn to Peckham and even in China. Naija culture is truly global and no doubt the fans will embody the Naija spirit wherever they will be watching the games this summer.

If you're wondering, Nike isn't simply hopping on the Nigeria bandwagon. The apparel company has been sponsoring the Nigerian football since 2015, supplying kits to all nine of the Nigeria Football Federation teams at every level, including the men's and women's senior teams, men's and women's under-20 teams, men's and women's under-17 teams, men's and women's Olympic teams, and the men's beach football team.

So while the kit is available for purchase worldwide June 1, just know that you'll be competing with millions to get your own official shirts for the World Cup. If you are in New York, find the kit for sale exclusively at Nike's 21 Mercer store.

And please join OkayAfrica and Nike on June 2nd for Naija Worldwide as we celebrate Team Nigeria's journey to Russia in style.

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Listen to Adekunle Gold's New Album 'About 30'

Adekunle Gold's highly-anticipated sophomore album is here.

Adekunle Gold's much-anticipated sophomore album, About 30, has arrived.

The 14-track album boasts features from Seun Kuti, Flavor and British-Nigerian soul singer Jacob Banks, who appears on a remix to the popular lead single "Ire." The album sees the artist flexing immense versatility and range as he delivers emotional ballads, folk-Inspired cuts sung in Yoruba, and a few highlife-tinged summer jams.

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