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How Mayorkun's 'Sade' Went From a Freestyle to a New Hit

Mayorkun, the Nigerian artist signed to Davido, tells us the incredible story behind his new single "Sade."

Maryorkun is to Davido what Mr Eazi is to Wizkid—the star’s starlet who becomes a star.


His new single “Sade” came about by happenstance. He, along with Dremo, were on Tim Westwood’s Crib Sessions last December and, as is the nature of the show, a succession of beats are played to which artists freestyle.

Of the 13 minutes both artists were on, Dremo rapped for most of it, but around the 9th min he ceded to Mayorkun just as Westwood played for Kiss Daniel’s “Woju.”

A moment after and Mayorkun starts to freestyle a verse that took in Yoruba and Pidgin, a bridge that included the line “my iron don burn, na pressing issue,” before wading into a chorus whose keynote and keyword was “Sade.”

He repeated the melody, mumbling different words and it became immediately clear that he’d created a song out of an existing one. Right then an acolyte stationed behind him beamed, impressed.

Over a succession of WhatsApp messages, Mayorkun explained what happened next. "After Tim Westwood released the video, everyone said ‘please get into the studio and record that song you freestyled.’ When I decided to record this song, I thought about the perfect person that could give me the sound I wanted, [so] I listened to a couple of current songs and myself & the team decided Masterkraft was best. As soon as I sent him the a cappella, he said ‘I got you’ and everything else fell in place.”

Another artist would have played down the connection to Kiss Daniel’s “Woju,” but Mayorkun speaks about it freely and confidently. This made my question as to whether or not he’s worried about being accused of siphoning from a contemporary operating in the same sphere redundant.

Far from it, Mayorkun is even more confident of the song making. “I wrote it in two days,” he offers up unasked, but no doubt in anticipation of a common interview question.

The video for “Sade” was shot in Kaduna, Nigeria, which as it happens is where I’m from. Even I had to be told by the head of PR at Davido Music Worldwide that it was shot in Kajuru Estate, whose scenic beauty draws a lot of its richness from the wood and grass land of the Savannah climate, as well as its medieval architecture.

Mayorkun. Image courtesy of the artist and Davido Music Worldwide.

I ask Mayorkun what led him to my hometown, which surely isn’t a popular location for music videos, “It was the director's idea," he says, "the moment he Clarence Peters heard the song he said, 'Mayor, we are going on road, get ready.' I didn't argue, come on.. No one argues with Clarence Peters, he's a genius. He delivered massively. The video is a masterpiece.” It might be a stretch to call it a “masterpiece” but it's very impressive, no doubt.

I tell Mayorkun that a princess who chooses a man as is portrayed in the video is reminiscent of Queen Amina of Zaria who, along with tales of the great wars she led, is also said to have killed any man she slept with as a rule, to which he laughs and says, “certainly not.”

The real premise of the video, he explains, is “basically centered around a pauper who is daydreaming about picking a princess as his wife. He visits the palace, spends time with each of the three princesses and, at the end, he's supposed to pick one princess as a bride. But then he returns to his senses: it was all a dream”.

Even more unusual is that Mayorkun’s chief love interest in the video is seen in one scene reading James Joyce’s Dubliners. Joyce is a god even among gods and Dubliners is the entry level to the cathedral that is Ulysses, “her (the love interest's) scene was meant to depict a princess who's smart and reads a lot of books. During the shoot, Clarence just wanted her to hold a book. He saw Dubliners, I remember, and said ‘perfect’”.

What are the chances that, while shooting a romantic scene in a medieval castle, a highly-regarded literary classic is found lying about just at the precise moment it is needed? Happenstance.

Mayorkun's "Sade" is available now on iTunes.

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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Photo: Courtesy of Radswan

Freddie Harrel Is Building Conscious Beauty For and With the African Diaspora

Formerly known as "Big Hair Don't Care", creator Freddie Harrel and her team have released 3 new wig shapes called the "RadShapes" available now.


Photo: Courtesy of Radswan


The normalising of Black and brown women in wigs of various styles has certainly been welcomed by the community, as it has opened up so many creative avenues for Black women to take on leadership roles and make room for themselves in the industry.

Radswan (formerly known as Big Hair Don't Care), is a lifestyle brand "bringing a new perspective on Blackness through hair, by disrupting the synthetic market with innovative and sustainable products." Through their rebrand, Radswan aims to, "upscale the direct-to-consumer experience holistically, by having connected conversations around culture and identity, in order to remove the roots of stigma."

The latest from French-Cameroonian founder and creator Freddie Harrel - who was featured on our list of 100 women of 2020 - has built her career in digital marketing and reputation as an outspoken advocate for women's empowerment. On top of her business ventures, the 2018 'Cosmopolitan Influencer of the Year' uses her platform to advocate for women's empowerment with 'SHE Unleashed,' a workshop series where women of all ages come together to discuss the issues that impact the female experience, including the feeling of otherness, identity politics, unconscious bias, racism and sexism.

And hair is clearly one of her many passions, as Freddie says, "Hair embodies my freest and earliest form of self expression, and as a shapeshifter, I'm never done. I get to forever reintroduce my various angles, tell all my stories to this world that often feels constrained and biased."

Armed with a committee of Black women, Freddie has cultivated Radswan and the aesthetic that comes with the synthetic but luxurious wigs. The wigs are designed to look like as though the hair is growing out of her own head, with matching lace that compliments your own skin colour.

By being the first brand to use recycled fibres, Radswan is truly here to change the game. The team has somehow figured out how to make their products look and feel like the real thing, while using 0% human hair and not negotiating on the price, quality or persona.

In 2019, the company secured £1.5m of investment led by BBG Ventures with Female Founders Fund and Pritzker Private Capital participating, along with angelic contributions from Hannah Bronfman, Nashilu Mouen Makoua, and Sonja Perkins.

On the importance of representation and telling Black stories through the products we create, Freddie says, "Hair to me is Sundays kneeling between your mothers or aunties legs, it's your cousin or newly made friend combing lovingly through your hair, whilst you detangle your life out loud. Our constant shapeshifting teaches us to see ourselves in each other, the hands braiding always intimately touching our head more often than not laying someone's lap."

"Big Hair No Care took off in ways we couldn't keep up with," she continues, "RadSwan is our comeback.It's a lifestyle brand, it's the hair game getting an upgrade, becoming fairer and cleaner. It's the platform that recognises and celebrates your identity as a shapeshifter, your individuality and your right to be black like you."


Check out your next hairstyle from Radswan here.

Radswan's RadShape 01Photo: Courtesy of Radswan


Radswan's RadShape 02Photo: Courtesy of Radswan


Radswan's RadShape 03Photo: Courtesy of Radswan

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