Interview

Liya Wants to Stand Out

The rising Nigerian artist, who has been crowned the 'First Lady' of Davido's DMW label, tells us about how her life has changed and details her new Alari EP.

When Nigerian music icon Davido signed Liya, a day after hearing her song in a Lagos nightclub, the trajectory of her life was effectively changed. From being a hopeful up-and-comer, the singer was suddenly on the books of one of the most influential record labels in the afropop industry, Davido Music Worldwide, and primed for a breakthrough. "Melo," the enthralling single played that day in the club was released within days of Liya's signing, retro-fitted with a video that heralded her ascension to the 30 Billion Gang.

Following the buzz and positive acceptance of "Melo," Liya retreated to the shadows to deal with the evolving landscape of her life and put together a debut project that would cement her position within Nigerian pop. In August, nine months after being signed, Liya returned with Alari, a six-track EP that was released without a lead single.

"Alari is basically saying I am different," the singer says during a chat one afternoon after the project's release. Songs like "Odua" and the project's titular track prove that the Liya is effectively operating on her own plain, where she weaves desire and equanimous gratitude into languid, fluid pop anthems guided by her sirenic voice and breathless cadences.

Below, we caught up with Liya to discuss working on Alari, getting signed to DMW, and the inner workings of her life.

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Interview

Interview: Peruzzi Is Taking His Time

We talk to the DMW artist about striking a balance between being one of the most trusted afrobeats songwriters while maintaining his career as an artist — and his latest album Rum & Boogie.

When Peruzzi, born Tobechukwu Okoh, abruptly left medical school in Ukraine, he knew he wanted to become a star in Nigeria. "I left medical school in my fifth year after my passport got stolen. I just felt like it was time to do the music thing properly," Peruzzi shares when we meet at his Lagos home.

After shuffling between Lagos and Abuja, and record deals that failed to provide him with the necessary publicity to kickstart his music career, Peruzzi spent the next couple of years not listening to Nigerian music in order to hone his own songwriting abilities. In 2017, Peruzzi finally got his limelight moment with the Davido-assisted remix of his single "For Your Pocket." In 2018, a few months after collaborating with the afrobeats superstar, Peruzzi was unveiled as a signee under Davido's label imprint, DMW, with the spirited posse-cut "Mind," which featured label mates Mayorkun and Dremo.

Although Peruzzi suffered a false start under DMW with his debut single "Mata," the Imo State singer notched numerous songwriting credits on genre-shaping records such as 2Face's "Amaka," Davido's "FIA," Larry Gaaga's "Doe" and Ecool's "Ada" in 2018. Later that year, Peruzzi's solo moment as an artist came with his single "Majesty," a celebratory R&B record that propelled Peruzzi's career to unprecedented heights.

Three years later, Peruzzi has proven to be a noteworthy name within the Nigerian music industry and beyond, entrancing fans with his arresting melodies and enviable wordplay, and accruing songwriting and artist credits on culture-defining albums such as Davido's A Better Time, Tiwa Savage's Celia and Olamide's Carpe Diem. With two EPs and an album in his catalogue, Peruzzi's latest offering is a 20-track double-sided album titled Rum & Boogie.

While his medical aspirations may be fast fading, Peruzzi's pen is sharper than ever as he presents fresh cuts of Afro-RnB and Afropop on his long-awaited sophomore album.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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