Audio

Iyanya's First Release On Don Jazzy's Mavin Records Is a Confident Step Forward

Iyanya's singing has grown surer and the 'Signature' EP shows maturity in a genre that is still figuring out a name for itself.

Iyanya’s move to Mavin Records might have provided Don Jazzy with the fresh challenge of working on entire projects with a proven singer who has a solid fan base, and Iyanya's with a team of proven producers in Jazzy, Babyfresh and Altims—a perfect move for both parties.


There is an Iyanya that would be very content making “radio R&B” but for the inconvenience of appealing to fans who have had decades of the stuff from its American originators.

There was a proposed joint EP with UK R&B singer Angel. This was probably a retail outlet for the pent up R&B melodies that afrobeats fans just won't buy wholesale, but the project has yet to materialise.

Iyanya displayed strong R&B chops on “Wambi” the first song off Applaudise, a well rounded album full of very good, often exceptional singing and equally-solid production throughout, but lacking the absolute bangers that the uneven Desire had, like “Kukere” or “Ur Waist.”

This R&B chops are yet again evident on Signature, especially on “Nobody Has to Know” a viscous jam (no pun intended) dripping with sweat and sex and a very charged and disturbing lyric “beat that pussy into submission, baby let me in” right off the lascivious chamber of R Kelly’s brain.

"Nobody Has to Know" is produced by Altims, who made “Do Like That” for Korede Bello, and who here also made “Not Forgotten” featuring Poe, a new addition to Mavins and its first rapper.

The song has a clear narrative line and a very touching moment of recollection when in 2010, while backstage in Abuja, Iyanya received a call informing him of his mother’s passing. It is done in a particularly R Kelly-like flourish and he has a well documented adoration of his own mother.

Babyfresh produced “Baby Answer” and “Celebrate” which is a mid-album cut that may get little love for being just that. But as a support case for 'afrobashment'—which many artist in the UK are making and many in Nigeria have made—it is a good one.

A personal game of expectations to see how many and what songs Don Jazzy produces on new Mavins projects continues to repay interest. Jazzy has produced four of the eight songs here, more that he did on Korede Bello's Belloved, the only other major Mavins release of the year and a long awaited debut.

“Bow For You” stands out from the rest here but pales when heard next to “Rotate” which Jazzy made for Wande Coal, the song it most resembles. The latter was made in 2013—a life time in this new afropop era— but is 'till this day a winner. “Odo Ye Wu” continues the long tradition of repurposing gospel for pop and features good old Jazzy adlibs. “Hold On” is a plea to a love interest not to rush heart matters.

“Up To Something,” released last October when Iyanya officially joined Mavins, features Jazzy’s big boy crooning which Nate Dogg made a career out of, as well as the durable Dr Sir.

As well as being a survey of the Mavins star-studded roster, the video has Iyanya, Jazzy and Dr Sid in impressive suits besides plush cars and a huge house telling of their successes so far.

Also all three don't dance much. The big boy sway tells of maturity as individuals but also as afrobeat practitioners free and above fads or the eagerness to prove themselves.

Also, it tells of already successful artists entering new phases in their careers. Iyanya may not have come up with more bangers like “Kukere” but his singing has grown surer and surer, and the projects are mature in a genre that is still figuring out a name for itself.

Sabo Kpade is an Associate Writer with Spread The Word. His short story Chibok was shortlisted for the London Short Story Prize 2015. His first play, Have Mercy on Liverpool Street was longlisted for the Alfred Fagon Award. He lives in London. You can reach him at sabo.kpade@gmail.com

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Pictures courtesy of Maeva Heim

Maeva Heim is the Founder the Beauty Industry Has Been Waiting on

The 31-year-old founder of Bread Beauty Supply is changing the conversation around haircare for textured hair.

It's nearing 9 p.m. in Australia, and Maeva Heim is dimly lit from behind and smiling warmly at her computer screen, ready to talk shop. We're here to discuss hair care, namely her brand Bread Beauty Supply, and how black beauty has made the globe smaller.

The 31-year-old is the founder of Bread Beauty Supply, a haircare line that encourages all textures and curl patterns to come as they are. "We don't want to tell you what to do with your hair. Enough people do that already," Heim says of Bread's brand philosophy. "We are just here to provide really good products for whatever you want to do with your hair at any point and not dictate to you how things should be. We're just women making the good products. You're making the good hair, and that's it. We're not here to define the rules."

But it's impossible to talk about recent strides in beauty products for textured hair without talking about the summer of 2020. In the weeks following the murder of George Floyd in the United States, a crescendo of cries rallied through global streets asking for not just equality but equity. The world watched with scrutiny as black boxes filled social feeds and brands made pledges to diversity. Those calls pinged from executive boards to the shelves of some of the world's largest beauty retailers. Meanwhile, after years of formulation, fundraising, and perfecting formulas and ingredients during a global pandemic, Maeva Heim introduced Bread beauty to the world in a perfect storm of timing and execution. The July 2020 launch filled a wide gap for Black beauty between homemade beauty products and behemoth beauty brands as Heim focused on an often under-explored direct-to-consumer middle.

Lauded on social media for their innovative packaging and nostalgic scents (the brand's award-winning hair oil smells like Froot Loops), Bread is a brand that makes hair care basics for not-so-basic hair. Typically, women with textured hair have not been included in the conversations around the idea of "'lazy girl hair" with minimal and effortless maintenance and styling - something Heim wanted to change. Part of Bread's mission is deleting category terms from the brand language – e.g. 'anti-frizz — that the brand feels unnecessarily demonizes characteristics that are natural to textured hair.

Photo courtesy of Bread Beauty

Born and raised in Peth, Western Australia, to an Ivorian mother and a French father, Heim grew up as one of the few Black kids in her neighborhood. Her days weaved between school and helping her mother run her braiding salon, one of the only of its kind in 1990's Australia. From sweeping floors, answering phones, and assisting with product orders, Heim's introduction to the world of beauty was rooted in the practice of doing.

Heim would go on to study business and law at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia, before working in marketing at L'Oréal, followed by an internship at Procter & Gamble in Singapore. But it wasn't until her relaxer exploded in her luggage during a flight between New York and Chicago that she began to think seriously about not only her personal hair journey but also about the beauty industry's gaps.

After ditching chemical hair-relaxer and returning to her natural texture, she pitched her idea to Sephora and, in 2019, was selected as one of the first-ever Australian participants in the Sephora Accelerate program, securing a launch deal for both in-store and online.

But what's most striking about Heim, aside from her penchant for focusing on the brand and the consumer, is her focus on the innovation gaps for Black beauty products. Uniquely shy on social media but poignantly focused on every nuance of her brand and serving Bread's prior overlooked customer base, Maeva is the founder the beauty world has been waiting for.

*This interview has been condensed and edited for length and clarity

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