next level at 40: 🌸TIWA SAVAGE’s CELIA🌸 album

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After trying to make it in the UK, where she grew up (participating in X Factor), and in the US R&B scene (singing background on Whitney’s I Look To You album and writing songs for people like Fantasia and Monica) she decided some ten years ago to go for a career in her native country, where she quickly became the biggest female star, releasing two albums and one EP in the process.

...and now, at age 40, just as the world is more receptive to African pop than ever before, she releases Celia, named after her mother, and it’s a marvel - the best thing she’s ever done, and the best thing to come out of Nigeria this year (which is saying something). The production is spectacularly good, cutting-edge and creative, and it’s telling that she doesn’t (feel the) need to accommodate western listeners, either in genre, sound or language. The level of Nigerian pop is so ridiculously high these days that this music has become literally undeniable, and this is Exhibit A.

first single “Dangerous Love”:

great live outdoor performance of it for the Tonight Show

(the song was discussed here, in the Naija Special poll.)

second single “Koroba”:

album highlight “Glory”:

No mean feat. DaBaby (breastcrawl), Sunday, 30 August 2020 19:07 (two years ago) link

testimonials from the Rolling Afro 2020 thread:

yes tonight is Celia listening time!
― No mean feat. DaBaby (breastcrawl), vrijdag 28 augustus 2020

The first half of Celia is superb, rest is good to very good as well. Best of the current batch of big shot Naija albums so far, by far. Made in Lagos, you’re damn right!
― No mean feat. DaBaby (breastcrawl), zaterdag 29 augustus 2020

Opening track “Save My Life” (with an uncredited Terri, I think, or is it Reekado?) [UPDATE: it's Reekado Banks!] is total Naijapolitan bliss.

“Bombay” with Stefflon Don and Dice Ailes is mmmmmmmmmmmmmm

also “FWMM (F*CK With My Mind)”...!
another Tiwa track with *backing* vocals/voices

the production on “Pakalamisi” with Hamzaa is stunning

― No mean feat. DaBaby (breastcrawl), zaterdag 29 augustus 2020

where did I even get the idea the second half was somehow not as good
― No mean feat. DaBaby (breastcrawl), zaterdag 29 augustus 2020

produced by Ozedikus (who did Rema’s “Woman” with Altims)
― No mean feat. DaBaby (breastcrawl), zaterdag 29 augustus 2020

had smoked a little something last night but now that I’m sober my opinion hasn’t changed one iota:
This album is astonishingly good. I was touting Fireboy’s debut as one of the best Afropop albums ever just the other day, well, we’ve got another one here. This is album of the year material.
― No mean feat. DaBaby (breastcrawl), zaterdag 29 augustus 2020

I mean, I hadn’t even mentioned “Glory”.
― No mean feat. DaBaby (breastcrawl), zaterdag 29 augustus 2020

tbh, not hating the sam smith collab on the tiwa album lol, tho i haven't been paying much attention to the lyrics.― whiney on the moon (voodoo chili), vrijdag 28 augustus 2020
co-written by Fireboy!
― No mean feat. DaBaby (breastcrawl), zaterdag 29 augustus 2020

I listened to about half of Celia yesterday and really liked it, looking forward to returning!
[1 hour passes…]
Superb album! I could do without the interlude and "Celia's Song," but they're not ruinous by any means, and the rest is excellent: deep, slick, sultry.
― rob, zaterdag 29 augustus 2020

yes, im a big fan too. don’t mind the interlude or celia’s song, they add a nice personal touch
― whiney on the moon (voodoo chili), zaterdag 29 augustus 2020

This Tiwa Savage album is becoming one of my favorite listens of the year. I even like the Sam Smith collab and I usually can't stand him. Oddly enough I like the second half better.
― ✖✖✖ (Moka), zondag 30 augustus 2020

No mean feat. DaBaby (breastcrawl), Sunday, 30 August 2020 19:10 (two years ago) link

yeah i love this album! didnt realize we had a thread. sam smith joint goes too! i love the faint echo of teedra moses in "glory" ("thoughts of you rule my world" part)

she just followed me on twitter XD

ILX’s bad boy (D-40), Monday, 31 August 2020 00:43 (two years ago) link

also maybe this was discussed before but DID YOU KNOW ?? she wrote "Collard Greens and Cornbread" for Fantasia and you can hear her demo of it on YouTube

ILX’s bad boy (D-40), Monday, 31 August 2020 00:44 (two years ago) link

yeah this album is fantastic, every sound is sublime

ufo, Monday, 31 August 2020 00:56 (two years ago) link

not sure how breastcrawl could overlook "Eminado" which is probably still my favorite song of hers

ILX’s bad boy (D-40), Monday, 31 August 2020 06:21 (two years ago) link

was thinking of linking “Collards...” in the intro, then forgot about it. once you know that Tiwa wrote it it’s easy to recognise her style in the melody. didn’t know her demo/guide track was online!
same goes for Monica’s “Catch Me”.

glad you posted “Eminado”, I already had those two personal faves from the first album so I stopped there.

No mean feat. DaBaby (breastcrawl), Monday, 31 August 2020 06:35 (two years ago) link

Love the new album. Perfect sunshine vibes.

Tim F, Monday, 31 August 2020 06:45 (two years ago) link

would like to take back any reservations i had about the tiwa x sam smith collab, the song bangs.

there's a few songs competing to be my fav, temptation, glory, dangerous love, bombay, etc. but for now i think koroba takes the cake.

whiney on the moon (voodoo chili), Monday, 31 August 2020 14:41 (two years ago) link

hey now:

Hey guys! watch my premiere for Tiny Desk in 15 mins. I’ll be in the comments as well. This is the YouTube page

— Tiwa Savage ⚔️ (@TiwaSavage) August 31, 2020

No mean feat. DaBaby (breastcrawl), Monday, 31 August 2020 15:21 (two years ago) link

Songs in the Key of Celia!

No mean feat. DaBaby (breastcrawl), Monday, 31 August 2020 15:31 (two years ago) link

live version of Dangerous Love is really great. I'm in camp "the backing vocals are good", but hearing Tiwa work around them so delicately in this stripped back style is very welcome

doorstep jetski (dog latin), Monday, 31 August 2020 16:06 (two years ago) link

ftr, I am also in camp "the backing vocals are good." I'm not sure how that got misconstrued. If my calling them "weird" connotes "bad" then change it to "unusual, striking, unexpected"—frankly, they're my favorite part of the song now.

I can't watch that TD now, but I'm looking forward to it. Also, not sure I ever raved over "One" in public, but that song crept up on me to be a favorite. I don't think I've ever heard "Eminado" though, exited!

rob, Monday, 31 August 2020 17:26 (two years ago) link

yeah I love 'One'. It feels iconic somehow.

doorstep jetski (dog latin), Monday, 31 August 2020 18:04 (two years ago) link

'Eminado' is god tier Tiwa. I like a lot of her stuff and the new album sounds great but that's the one I always go back to.

Matt DC, Monday, 31 August 2020 20:16 (two years ago) link

I’ve grown to really love this amapiano remix (with a new vocal by Tiwa) of ”Dangerous Love” by South African producers DJ Ganyani and De Mogul SA. The castanet accents on the beat are a great touch:

(while I applaud the fact that remixes are finally (and I mean finally!) becoming more common in afropop, I have to admit appreciating this and other** pop jams in an amapiano context takes some getting used to for me.

**Joeboy’s “Call” and DJ Neptune’s “Nobody” are other current Naija hits that have gotten this treatment)

No mean feat. DaBaby (breastcrawl), Monday, 31 August 2020 20:40 (two years ago) link

wow the tiny desk performance is incredible

ufo, Monday, 31 August 2020 22:08 (two years ago) link

I'm fully onboard with this. Tiwa finally found a way to translate her considerable skills and appeal into a full length album and now I'm in love.

human and working on getting beer (longneck), Wednesday, 2 September 2020 20:06 (two years ago) link

Reviews for Celia in Nigeria have not exactly been uniformly positive:

This one, in the Native, is pretty jubilant...

...but this one not so much...

...and ouch, this one doesn’t pull its punches.
(I had missed most of this apparent ‘woke Tiwa’ (re-)branding)

No mean feat. DaBaby (breastcrawl), Friday, 4 September 2020 20:04 (two years ago) link

As for its chart performance: streaming-wise it’s doing much worse than the Burna, Fireboy and Adekunle Gold albums (which all came out earlier too). All of Twice As Tall’s 15 tracks are outstreaming the most popular Tiwa track, “Koroba”. The least popular one? “Glory” :-(

They really have the whole thing backwards...

No mean feat. DaBaby (breastcrawl), Friday, 4 September 2020 20:04 (two years ago) link

Burna had a HUGE media push in the US, so that at least isn't too surprising. I haven't gotten more than a few tracks into Fireboy and have only heard the singles from AG, so not sure what my own comparison would be (I'm v doubtful I would end up liking either as much though). I played Celia for my partner last night and it took a few songs before she asked me what it might be a bit too subtle for its own good in terms of grabbing streaming listeners.

That Pulse review was amusingly batshit -- I completely lost track of what his perspective was, it almost felt like a panel review of wildly conflicting opinions. And then ending by calling "Celia's Song" (which I liked more on second listen but still has quite a lot of hallelujahs in it for my taste) the best track was *chef's kiss*

rob, Friday, 4 September 2020 22:27 (two years ago) link

to be clear, I was talking about streaming numbers for Nigeria!

No mean feat. DaBaby (breastcrawl), Friday, 4 September 2020 22:36 (two years ago) link

Oh gotcha!

rob, Saturday, 5 September 2020 00:17 (two years ago) link

NY Times critic Jon Pareles interviews her about new album, her life (in Nigeria, UK, and Us), her divorce, stint at Berklee College of Music, and songwriting(including as a hired songwriter in Los Angeles) and marketing

Savage wrote and recorded “Celia” the way many Western pop stars make albums: She convened a songwriting camp. She booked eight rooms for 15 days at the Oriental Hotel in Lagos, where producers and musicians could come and go, bouncing ideas off one another as Savage supervised, selected tracks and came up with top lines. “Just put your heart into it, and let’s have fun,” she told them.

curmudgeon, Monday, 7 September 2020 21:58 (two years ago) link

thanx for that!

No mean feat. DaBaby (breastcrawl), Tuesday, 8 September 2020 07:37 (two years ago) link

three weeks pass...

I just called to say Pakalamisi

Regard the timeless piano balladeeress! (breastcrawl), Wednesday, 30 September 2020 21:30 (two years ago) link


Regard the timeless piano balladeeress! (breastcrawl), Wednesday, 30 September 2020 21:31 (two years ago) link

thanks beastcrawl for this. I've probably played this album more than anything else this year, it's gorgeous

maf you one two (maffew12), Saturday, 3 October 2020 22:03 (two years ago) link

my pleasure, mafu12 (you can call me breastcrawl btw:-)

what’s your favourite track? I went from “Glory” to “FWMM” to currently, unquestionably, “Pakalamisi”.

Regard the timeless piano balladeeress! (breastcrawl), Sunday, 4 October 2020 14:07 (two years ago) link

whoops lol.. sorry, breastcrawl. The whole thing rules (even the "interlude") but I'll say "Save My Life"

maf you one two (maffew12), Monday, 5 October 2020 20:50 (two years ago) link

four weeks pass...

latest video is for "Ole" with Naira Marley:

meanwhile, I'm still all about "Pakalamisi". make it happen, Tiwa!

Welcome to Nonrock (breastcrawl), Monday, 2 November 2020 11:51 (two years ago) link

two weeks pass...

this album's incredible, so glad I finally got to it. thanks for the thread!

swing out sister: live in new donk city (geoffreyess), Tuesday, 17 November 2020 05:41 (two years ago) link

Time has Celia as one of its top 10 albums of the year:

Running up that hill but fleeting (a deal with Gop) (breastcrawl), Saturday, 28 November 2020 15:40 (two years ago) link

eight months pass...

new ep out, apparently!

grove street (party) direction (voodoo chili), Saturday, 21 August 2021 00:40 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

new single “Stamina” with Ayra Starr and Young Jonn, produced by Magicsticks of Asake fame;

(mainly because I want SNA to be as colourful as possible)

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