There’s no king or queen in music industry—Tiwa Savage

Challenges and scandals in the last few years have almost affected the music career of Tiwa Savage, but the mother of one has managed to remain on top of her game. In this interview with SEYI SOKOYA, she speaks about her journey in the industry and what she feels about other artistes.


WHAT else do you have in store for your fans?

I have a whole lot, but to mention a few, we are definitely planning a promotion tour in November. Actually, I have not told anyone about this before, this is the first time that I am announcing it. The tour is to promote my new single. Next year, I have an official tour because I will be releasing a new album.


What is the concept and why now?

To be honest, Olamide didn’t want me to say this. Olamide, Pheelz and myself worked on this record and by the time I got to his house, he had already started the line 49 sitting 99 standing. I figured it was a line from Fela’s song, Suffering and Smiling. I loved it immediately. I feel as an artiste getting global recognition, it is my responsibility to speak on things affecting a lot of Nigerians.


Your new song is a departure from your usual party jam laced with romance. What are you up to?

There is a time and place for everything. I know that the fans want to dance and fall in love but I wanted my first introduction to the rest of the world to have substance. That is why this song is very special to me. We all know that 49-99 describes the Molue bus where you have twice more people standing than those that are sitting. That’s a reflection of the poverty and things that Nigerians are fighting daily. We may not have the Molues anymore, but we still have people hanging on buses or riding on okada to get to work every day. We have mothers carrying children in their hands who have to commute to work every day under this circumstance. I must say that I am not attacking anyone, but I am just saying that this is a reality that millions of Nigerians face every day and music is one way we can get this message out.


The song depicts what people go through, but ironically, street songs don’t project conscious messages like you have just done with this song.

As artistes, we try to create music that takes us away from our daily worries. When you are thinking about a lot of things, you also don’t want to be caught up in what you are dealing with. Artistes try to make sure that in those three minutes of listening to our music, they can escape the reality, but there must be a balance and that is why 49-99 is important for me.


What makes 44-99 different from other projects of yours?

When I signed with Universal, I had Sir Lucian on board and had Alex of Island Records on board as well. They were so excited and felt like there was a void with female artistes. We have male artistes dominating the scene and they wanted to put so much in a new project for a female act. They wanted to make a lot of noise about it. To be honest, we didn’t expect it to be this big. A lot of brands like Boomplay, Universal Nigeria and Nigerian Breweries also jumped on board. Boomplay put together my performance under Obalende Bridge and that was huge. They also helped to make sure my song is heard by millions across Africa. It wasn’t even in our plan initially, but I guess it was God’s timing and everything aligned.


What informed your decision to perform at Obalende underbridge?

I think that as an artiste, I cannot run away from the people. It was very important for me to connect with them and let them know how important they are to my growth.


How do you feel when people describe you as Queen of Afrobeat?

I am definitely not. I think it is amazing that people will put that title on me. There are so many queens just like there are so many kings. You have to understand and appreciate how hard we all work. You can’t place a title to one person, because Burna is doing his thing, Wizkid is doing his thing, same for David, Yemi Alade and Simi as well. Everybody is working hard. When you put us against one another to compete for one position, it makes it hard for us to do what we do. I think we are blessed as Nigerians to have so many talents. We just have to celebrate everyone. We all are kings and queens. There is only one original king and that is Jehovah.


Going by your new work, have you entered Molue before?

I haven’t entered a Molue before to be honest. Most of my youthful life, I grew up in the United Kingdom. Just because I haven’t been in a Molue doesn’t stop me from emphatising with people who have done that. I can’t pretend like that experience doesn’t exist. 49-99 is to shed light on people who have had the experienced.


What has been your staying power?

Definitely, my faith in God. I feel blessed because a lot of people started on this level with me. For this, I’m very grateful to God. I just want my story to be a testament and inspiration to other people. From when I started with Flytime and Cecil Hammond, a lot has happened. I’m growing and I feel like I just started in the global market. I think my staying power would be hard work and humility, because one has to remind oneself that this thing can leave tomorrow. One has to make sure one works hard to leave a legacy behind.


What were your fears then considering it was a male dominated industry?

The industry is still kind of ‘male dominated’ even now. I would say that there were fears then and there are fears now as well. I don’t think we will ever stop entertaining fears in life. There were legitimate fears about how the people were going to accept my brand, how are my new old and new fans going to react? I serve a living God and I don’t let fears consume me too much.


You recently participated in an empowerment programme involving market women. What was the experience like?

It was amazing seeing women hustling. I feel very connected to them and I was so happy to be a part of them. I was happy to encourage them, you should have seen the looks of joy on their faces. Nigerian women try a lot. We work very hard. They deserve so much more.