Siren is the word to describe Tiwa Savage. Everything she sings and how she sings it has an unimpeachable allure that stems from the uniqueness of her beacon like voice down to the elegant, diva-esque strut she exudes in her visuals and live sets. These core tenets are what give constant fluorescence to her music, even with the musical shift she’s embraced since her emergence till date.
Tiwa’s early, breakout singles were hard swinging, bubblegum jams with obvious American pop music influences (‘Kele Kele Love’). A link up with Don Jazzy and the Mavin crew engineered a move towards a more afro-pop centric sound, which led to a remarkable slew of hit singles like ‘Eminado’ and ‘My Darling’.
Switching styles meant Tiwa had versatility in her arsenal, but the problem with having a wide array of options showed in the cluttered nature of her albums. While both albums, Once Upon A Time and R.E.D are largely enjoyable efforts, attempting to do so much in those elongated spans lead to both albums being overwhelming and exhaustive. Strong album cuts which could have become musical gems were hidden within the barrage of songs on display.
Although her 22-song deep sophomore album, R.E.D didn’t exactly land with the emphatic thud of her debut, it eventually got eclipsed by a highly publicized feud with her then husband/manager, Tee Billz. So much so that a deal with Roc Nation didn’t make more than background noise. As the elongated gossip cycle finally broke and moved on from Tiwa Savage, the focus returned back to her music where she remained visible and audible via features.
Far removed from last year’s madness, one listen to Sugarcane, Tiwa’s recently released EP and it is clear that she’s given herself enough room to settle into. The EP is delightfully crafted, made up of six highly enjoyable, easy to listen earworms. Sugarcane is steeped in contemporary afro-pop sonically, while threading Tiwa’s familiar lyrical terrain of creating love songs. The EP refreshes her tropes perfectly, with Tiwa’s minty voice being accentuated by gleaming production.
The title track which also serves as the intro is laced with flirty lines and cheeky innuendos, “something wey sweet like sugarcane”, she whispers suggestively on the hook. Spellz’s high octane beat for ‘Sugarcane’ is driven by lively drums and accompanied by South African house-esque piano strings. The production beams with the colorful glow of neon lights, brightening the sexy demeanor of Tiwa’s vocals. An audio portrayal of the EP’s cover art.
The initially released single, ‘All Over’, produced by Mavin’s in-house producer Baby Fresh is the edgiest song the EP. It is a quick paced, dancefloor ready jam which ups the energy quite significantly without totally unbalancing the EP. The heavy hitting but minimal gloss of the Maleekberry produced ‘Me and You’ also pushes the pace a little on the EP. Sandwiched between both frenetic cuts is ‘Hold Me Down’, a dulcet toned, percussive afro-R&B song. A love song that also doubles as a sex jam, the type of song that perfectly encapsulates the idea of being in a bubble with a lover.
Spellz gets an official feature for his production chops on standout track and EP closer, ‘Ma Lo’, sonically a contemporary afro-pop track shaded with highlife undercurrents. Wizkid’s appearance is the only official vocal feature on Sugarcane. ‘Ma Lo’ which is Tiwa and Wizkid’s second collab hits the mark, pairing Wizkid’s inimitable swagger with Tiwa’s charm.
As far as well-intentioned, well-executed comebacks go, Sugarcane is a triumph for Tiwa Savage. 20minutes of mellifluous music to serve as an appetizer for her next project will only renew Tiwa’s hype.
Words by Dennis (@ayo_dennis)