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The Queen of Afrobeats, Tiwa Savage, delivers another surefooted EP, ensuring her dominance in the afrobeats music sphere.

Tiwa Savage told us she had no plans to put out a project this year until she decided to assemble this Sugarcane EP.

“All Over,” her first big single of the year, is closing in on 8 million views on YouTube, and has since been followed by cross-national collaborations with Awilo Longomba in “Esopi Yo” and Diamond Platnumz on “Fire”.

Signing to Roc Nation already made Savage’s global ambition clear, and early in September she further cemented that by performing at Jay Z’s Made In America festival.

As if to give an idea of what kind of company she keeps these days, she posted a video of Coldplay’s Chris Martin Naija two-stepping to “Ma Lo” on her Instagram page.

Savage’s two full projects—2013’s Once Upon A Time and 2016’s R.E.D—have been fully realized records of surefooted writing and well-chosen production, ensuring dominance in the afrobeats sphere and elsewhere on the continent.

Her new project, Sugarcane, is the EP that makes the case for other acts making EPs over albums. Brevity sharpens focus, or simply leaves little room for fillers, making for great replay value for Sugarcane. Twenty listens in one weekend and one isn't bored or sated.

Both Tiwa Savage and Wizkid combine well on “Ma Lo” as they did on their last song together, “Bad,” off R.E.D.

Produced by Spellz, the melodies on “Ma Lo” are more satisfying, helped by the soothing beat—as well as memorable phrasing that don’t mean much “robo ske ske, robo ske ske” the Pon Pon playbook that is Tekno's “Pana.”

House beats, like juju, are easy sells but Spellz’ own combination has got extra delight on the titular track “Sugarcane,” where Savage’s already honeyed voice, good enough in the verses, is even more effective when she coos the words “something wey sweet like sugarcane” just when the beat breaks.

Savage’s singing straddles Spellz’ beat through its peaks and troughs and the writing, once again, is mature. Another writer would have multiplied the entendres on “sugarcane” for being sweet or phallic, but Savage is an experienced hand and shows restraints.

Mavin Records' First Lady may sometimes draw from Beyonce’s aesthetic in her videos and live performances—who wouldn’t?—but her strongest vocal twin is Brandy.

This is less clear when she sings in Yoruba or pidgin, but undoubtable when the lyrics are mostly in English as in “Hold Me Down.” It may just be the rasp in her voice or the specific ways she harmonizes, a similarity which this listener is only hearing for the first time.

“Me and You” is interesting for several reasons. The naked dembow beat may draw comparisons to Drake and Wizkid’s “One Dance” (rightly for wrong reasons), but the real likeness, if there’s any, is with “XO” by Beyonce.

The song's produced by Maleek Berry, who also provides the background vocals, his nasal singing voice adding good texture. The real interest here is in Savage’s songwriting which, as is elsewhere on the EP, is as precise as you’d expect from an experienced songwriter but never intimate enough to feel personal to her.

“It’s 6 in the evening, I’ve been in your arms all day/I don’t want to get away, your love dey make me stay" or  “It’s 2 in the morning, your eyes say come to me/the moon is the company, I love this your ecstasy,”

In both cases the specific timing promises some specific detail—whether real or imagined—but then followed by commonplace lyrics.

No fan is owed insights into any artist’s life but Savage’s tales of marital strife which played out in the media last year are noticeably absent in her lyrics and music.

Marvin Gaye found new completion on “Here, My Dear,” which was largely about the breakup of his marriage to Anna Gordy. Beyonce also found hers in Lemonade, made even more special by the big apology that is 4:44.

Perhaps these heights, or depths, are still to come for Savage or may not be at all, which is also fine, but there sure is scope for more.

This spoilt listener isn’t complaining though. Each song on Sugarcane is well produced and well-written and of course well sung.

Full marks all round.

Tiwa Savage's 'Sugarcane' is available now.

Tiwa Savage Delivers 6 Sweet Stalks of 'Sugarcane' In Her New EP

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Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Passes Away

The former Egyptian president, who was ousted in 2011 during the Arab Spring Uprising, was aged 91.

Egypt's former President Hosni Mubarak passed away yesterday according to reports by the BBC.

The former statesman's death comes barely a year after his successor and Egypt's first democratically-elected president Mohamed Morsi, suffered a fatal heart attack.

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Moonchild Sanelly. Image courtesy of the artist.

Emerging Artists: Submit to Be a Part of MIDEM Talent Exporter

The new program will select a group of 22 artists from across the world through an open call for entries.

MIDEM, the music world's leading conference and trade fair that takes place in Cannes, France, has announced their new accelerator program for emerging artists across the globe.

The MIDEM Talent Exporter will select a group of 22 artists from across the world through an open call for entries.

"This live matchmaking format will shine a light on the most promising export-ready talent," a message from MIDEM explains, "and connect them with today's finest international talent buyers, including agents, promoters, festivals, media, PR, curators, music editors and A&R. They will also gain access to 10 music supervisors with the specific objective of building concrete business partnerships."

MIDEM Talent Exporter is born out of the Midem Artist Accelerator, a talent discovery and mentorship program that OkayAfrica has had the opportunity to be a part of. In the past artists like AKA, Bez, Moonchild Sanelly, Tshego, La Dame Blanche, Kyan, and other have been part of the program.

As MIDEM explains, the program gives artists the opportunity to "meet international business partners, be scouted by international festival bookers, find an international booking agent, find local promoters, find local PRs, get your music placed in film, TV, gaming, sign publishing and/or sub-publishing deal(s), sign recording deal(s), integrate music playlists, be spotted and highlighted by international media & journalist," and more.

Emerging artists can submit now for MIDEM Talent Exporter 2020.

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Photo by Kristy Sparow/Getty Images.

Austrian-Nigerian Designer Kenneth Ize Makes Spectacular Debut at Paris Fashion Week

The designer topped off his debut by having supermodel Naomi Campbell walk the runway.

Last night, Austrian-Nigerian fashion designer Kenneth Ize debuted at Paris Fashion week and put on an undeniably spectacular show.

The designer wowed with his Autumn/Winter '20 collection and then topped it all off by having international supermodel Naomi Campbell walk the run way last and bring the show to a close.

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Ami Faku. Image courtesy of artist.

Watch Ami Faku Break Down Her Song ‘Imali’: ‘Many people never get the break they need’

South African soul artist Ami Faku speaks about the inspiration behind her hit 'Imali' on Apple Music's Song Stories.

Ami Faku's hit single "Imali," which is a collaboration between the Eastern Cape-born artist and the duo Blaq Diamond from Durban, is an undeniable hit.

For the latest episode of Apple Music's Song Stories, Ami Faku breaks down the inspiration behind the song.

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