Riddim 5, her debut body of work, is a collection of experimental sounds that FAVE is trying on as she navigates the boundaries of her newfound fame.
If you listen to FAVE talk long enough, it’s easy to believe that the 21-year-old Nigerian singer was somehow destined to be a musician. One afternoon, a couple of hours before debut Riddim 5 EP is scheduled to be released, FAVE is engaged in conversation about balancing school and work. We’re sitting in the open-air bar space of a boutique hotel in Lekki. She’s fiddling with a legal thriller book by John Grisham, but her lithe voice takes on a distinctive, excitable lilt when our discussion turns to music.
“I don't know which I have more love for, if it’s making music—that is writing my own songs—or if it’s actually just singing,” the singer born GodsFavour Ugochinyere Chidozie quips, “but I just genuinely love music, I find myself writing whenever I hear a beat or trying to sing something different on someone else's song, you know, just exploring basically.”
Born in Lagos before moving to Uyo as a seven-year-old, FAVE’s bond with music has been a constant in her life for as long as she can remember, helping her deal with the constant relocations that were part of her upbringing due to her father’s job as an architect. She believes that moving around as a child helped broaden her appreciation for various musical cultures. “I've had a taste of the South and I've had a taste of the West so it's almost like I have different upbringings,” she explains. “Maybe that's why I'm so interested in different kinds of music because I've heard different kinds of music over time, different languages, and meeting different people.”
Still, the musicians that made the biggest impression on FAVE growing up were soulful bards who appealed to her poetic sense of wonder and channelled the melancholia she felt growing up. “I listened to a lot of Adele, Sia, Lana Del Rey, and Lorde,” FAVE says gleefully. “I couldn't get enough of them and Florence + The Machine, those artists were who I was really listening to. I was listening to everybody but at the same time, I just had people that I'd just want to listen to, and they used to inspire me.”
FAVE - Baby Riddim (Official Video) www.youtube.com
While much of FAVE's love for music was amorphous at this point, it took on definitive shape when she headed to Obafemi Awolowo University to study law. “I knew I've always wanted to do music, I just needed to be able to do it on my own,” she explains. “So, when I got into university and I could access the studio, it was a pretty easy choice for me. I just said, ‘Oh. Let's go into the studio and start.’”
Without access to significant funding, FAVE’s first recorded song, “M.O.M.M.S.,” was produced, mixed and mastered for free by a friend who saw potential in her earliest work. From there, she began participating in a series of online challenges as well as sharing soul-drenched freestyles that won her new fans and followers. One of those freestyles, “N.B.U.,” became a viral sensation, catapulting Fave to niche attention and putting her on many people’s radar, including YBNL boss Olamide.
Last year, FAVE unlocked a new artistic level collaborating with Olamide on two songs off his ninth solo album, UY Scuti, serving as a muse on “Want” and a duetting partner on “PonPon.” “It was crazy,” says FAVE of the achievement of working with the Nigerian icon. “I felt like there was no big man that took me to Olamide and said, ‘I present to you the next star.’ He heard my stuff and he felt like it was great. I don't know how it was that he decided that I should be on his album, and two songs for that matter, you can't really say what it is that he saw in me that made him make that decision but it just made me happy and made me confident. You know that you have talent but when another person identifies it. I felt like it'd be a very big step in my career. He just took me in, he saw me like his little sister. He didn't tell me that I was recording songs for his project.”
The unique lustre of her songs with Olamide served as an industry-wide notice of her talent but it was “Baby Riddim,” a ballad about undiminished love released in September of last year that broke her through. “I definitely didn't envisage success,” FAVE says laughing. Within two months of its release, “Baby Riddim” had received over 25 million streams across platforms and uniquely positioned Fave as a voice to look out for as afropop continues its march to global attention. “I didn't know where ‘Baby Riddim’ was going to take us but now ‘Baby Riddim’ is going to the UK, I definitely did not expect that,” she continues.
Riddim 5, her debut body of work, is a collection of experimental sounds that FAVE is trying on as she navigates the boundaries of her newfound fame and the sharp criticism that comes with the terrain. “I record a lot overtime because I'm always trying to work with producers, and we decided that we'd bring all the songs that we've recorded over time and pick out favorites,” she says about the project. “So, it's like just take the sides of me that I have. That's just it. That's why it's called Riddim 5 because they are like five songs, five rhythms, five different sides of me, five amazing songs that I just feel like people should know that I have these kinds of melodies in me.”
On most days, FAVE is unsure about the daunting prospect of completing her law degree while juggling a buzzing music career but she knows that her music would not be taking a backseat. “I'm ambitious as hell for my music because I know that it is the love of my life,” she says with a quiet steeliness. “I don't see myself doing anything else asides music. Even if I say I don't want to do music officially or put out music, I'll still have thousands of songs written on my phone, so it's like it's already my life. I might as well do it and be able to touch people and make people feel the way they feel about my music. I'm really ambitious. I'm putting all my energy, I know that there's no stopping me.”
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