Tiwa Savage wouldn’t be dragged into the “Afrobeats vs Afrobeat” argument. Matter of fact, she doesn’t mind as long as it has “Afro” in it.
The singer makes this revelation as she covers the latest edition of Nation of Billions. According to her, the african sound has evolved and picked up a lot of sounds on the way, so provided it doesn’t lose the main ingredient which is the Afrobeat, it can be called whatever.
“Just like in reggae music, yes it has evolved but it’s still reggae music – it still has the elements and energy – anywhere in the world you listen to it you know the genre of music it is so I just hope we can maintain the genre and maintain that in Afrobeats. Like when you have a pot of stew, the main ingredient is the meat – the main ingredient is the Afrobeat sound, but I colour it with maybe R’n’B adlibs, maybe soulful background vocals or maybe lyrics here or there. I don’t really mind as long as it has the Afro in it, you can call it Afropop, Afrobeats, Afrobeat, Afrosoul,” she said.
Asked if she thinks the interest of major global record labels in the African sound could damage the sound, Tiwa who recently got signed to Jay Z’s Roc Nation had this to say, “Personally I try to maintain either the drum pattern or pidgin English or a lot of times I speak in Yoruba and Igbo as well so there’s always going to be something. It’s either in the instrumentation, the lyrics or the video. I want a situation where it’s always present. I think it’s a good time now because they [record labels] are looking for us – so, it would be a different situation where I’m knocking on the door and I’m like, hey, listen, I have huge fans back in Nigeria and this music is growing and I’m trying to convince somebody of the sound, or of the movement. Then I can understand [labels] really trying to, you know, change the branding or the music or whatever.
Explaining why her deal with Roc Nation made sense, the mother of one said, “because they are the ones more so interested with what’s going on with Afrobeats and the movement. From my personal experience, especially signing with Roc Nation – they are more interested in maintaining what it is that’s gotten me this far and what has gotten us this far. So, they’re not really trying to change the sound. I would say maybe branding and artist development – in terms of, our music industry is completely different in Africa than it is in the US or UK – so it’s just learning a different infrastructure – the product is still the same. It’s just working on the branding or packaging a little bit. I have to maintain that otherwise, what’s the point really? You’ll lose the essence of the movement and this movement is bigger than one artist. It’s a revolution. So we have to be mindful that we’re representing a continent and we’re representing new artists that will come up after us and they have to maintain that sound as well.”
She also opened up on Polio and the role she plays in fighting the disease in Nigeria: “I’m a Polio Ambassador, I’m actually very actively involved in that. I’m passionate about Polio because to me it hits home because I have a child. And at one point, we thought it was eradicated in Nigeria – and it actually was – but we had four cases come up last year that not a lot of people know about. With me doing that cause and not talking about it, it didn’t really help the situation because a lot of people still didn’t know about it. Yeah, I can go home at night at say ‘oh Tiwa you did your bit, you helped’, but I realised I need to talk about it more so that other Nigerians can know this is a situation we’re dealing with.”