We talk to the Nigerian singer and producer about her highly-anticipated fourth studio album, TBH (To Be Honest).
Simi has released her new album. As one of the leading voices shaping the new wave of Afropop flooding international music charts, the Nigerian singer-songwriter's highly-anticipated project comes via her own label Studio Brat and drops just in time for your summer playlist.
Hot off of the success of her recently released fan-loved single "Naked Wire," the singer has delivered a full ode to independence in her fourth studio release. Using this album to "get in your face," Simi is finding her musical footing and growing into her own, right before our eyes. Since her last full-length project in 2019, the singer, producer, and new mom has achieved a top 5 record on the Billboard World Album Chart, and an MTV Africa Music Award nomination, among other accomplishments.
The 11-track TBH (To Be Honest) is written and composed by Simi herself, a testament to the powerful vibes emanating from the Simi/Adekunle Gold household. Gold is one of two guest appearances on the album, the other being fellow Nigerian vocalist Fave. Production credits go to BlaiseBeatz (Wizkid, Tiwa Savage), Pheelz (Davido, Fireboy DML), and Grammy Award nominee P.Priime, and a few others.
To Be Honest manifests as the singer's reintroduction and reinstating of boundaries, as her past albums reflected her life experiences at the time. We spoke with the Nigerian star about her latest album, what she's been up to since we last spoke to her, as well as the pressure to succeed and keep upping your game.
Answers have been edited for length and clarity.
We last spoke with you in 2020—your single 'Duduke' had just come out, you were expecting your baby, and Restless II was just released. How have you been over the last two years?
I mean, it's been quite a ride. I've dropped a few singles from the album already. I didn't drop anything for about a year after Restless II. I was trying to figure things out—I was trying to gather myself and my energy together. So, but it's been pretty interesting. I'm so excited because it's been a long time coming and I've been working at this for so long. I'm just ready to let it go to the world so it can do its thing.
How do you manage to wear so many hats so well; you're a singer, and producer, and own your record label. How do you balance that all?
First of all, when you realize that you have so many things that you love and require time and that you want to be better at, somehow, you have to find a way to find a balance. I try to prioritize and I commit to my priorities. I know that sometimes since becoming a mother, there's some stuff that I would have to tweak or change, do more, and be less of as a musician because my child would definitely always be a priority over anything else. And I think understanding that helps you make peace with whatever choices you have to make. I'm also able to kind of point ahead when I see- it's easier for me to look in the future and fix if this might not work, so what should I do instead? So I make choices that might impact my life better because of the new choices I have to make.
And you were pretty open about how you struggled with this new album and that you were struggling with sleep. Did you feel a lot more pressure this time around?
Yeah, I did. I think, as an artist, the idea of you being an artist is you're trying to say something. You're trying to tell a story and at different stages of your life, you're trying to tell different stories. When I put out "Duduke," I was talking about the phase that I was in -- I was getting ready to be a mom. The idea behind To Be Honest was I wanted to do a project where I was speaking my mind and was less guarded. I wanted to be more in your face about certain things. So I was trying to think about what perspective because they already know I can sing, they already know I can write. How can I present this in a way that doesn't seem like, "yeah, we know." I think that's a different kind of pressure. And I know I'm singing as a mom again, but it's true because as a mom, sometimes people expect you're going to actually fall by the wayside because they think, "oh, they love women, I don't get fired. Because when she gets mad, she becomes the mom now she won't be able to do anything. I don't want to invest in that kind of future and everything." So there's just more pressure all around.
Simi - Naked Wire (Official Audio) www.youtube.com
Speaking of To Be Honest can you tell me a bit about it? What phase of your life and what story are you sharing with the world this time around?
I mean, it's not like I'm singing everything that's happening in my life, just a few stories. There's a song about my musical journey from the things that I've had to go through or learn or give in my journey to be an artist or in my journey here, where I am right now. I have songs about experiences that I've had with friends. I have a song called "Loyal," which was inspired by a friend that let me down. I have a song talking directly to the haters, telling them exactly how I feel. So, I have a couple of songs. I don't have a lot of love songs in this project. I have a few ones also vibe and enjoy yourself, relax without something to think about, be easy with life, taking- so it's just a few experiences and a few lessons, pretty much.
And what about this album are you most excited for fans to experience?
I don't think I have any one that I'm more excited about, but I'm curious to see how they are going to absorb whatever they hear. Because usually when I'm working on something, I get a little, "Oh, I love Simisola." Which is my first mainstream album, right? The thing is I love Simisola too, but I already did Simisola, you know what I mean? And I was just telling someone today, I'm like "even if I do an album that's exactly like that, maybe different songs, but exactly the same energy, I can never replicate the spirit behind my song, behind that album because that was me introducing myself, basically to the whole world." So I'm trying to tell new stories. I'm excited to see how people are going to respond to me stretching myself a little more.
You and your husband, Adekunle Gold, are a power couple. What is it like having, not only a life partner but a professional one too?
I think it helped that the foundation of our relationship wasn't based or centered on music. We didn't start dating because we were in the industry together. We were friends and in fact, funny thing is, he first knew me when I was doing gospel music. I hadn't known at the time, but when we started dating, I didn't even know he was trying to be a musician. Because he used to do post funny photos, all these celebrities doing, I don't even know.
So his doing music kind of caught me off guard, actually. But he is my biggest supporter. He's always in my corner. He's always rooting for me, always pushing me to be and to do more. And I don't think, not that I don't think, he's the best man that I know and I hope he stays that way and I'm just glad to experience life alongside him. As well as always having him to inspire me as an artist, as well, because he gives me great advice and vice versa, even on the professional front.
Oh, that's beautiful. Okay, going back to your album. If you were to pick one track off of it, to be the song of the summer, which would you choose and why?
[Laughs] I don't know! The reason why this is hard is that I love the songs. I don't know. Probably "Logba Logba," because it just has a vibe and I don't like to vibe, so it just has a vibe that is easy. So I think that probably will be the song of the Summer.
Check out Simi's fourth studio album To Be Honest' here or on your music streaming platform of choice.