It’s hardly impossible to not competitively pitch contemporaries who are pretty much at same pedestal, against each other. It’s almost a norm that coexisting brands are barely in good terms no matter how they try, the fans, the media and other agents actively play the role of magnifying the blurs and making them see ghost and what seems like a healthy competition propagates into frictious rivalry. When I’m talking brands, the human form of it are most likely more affected with these antagonistic race. Just like the never-ending Ronaldo/Messi comparison in football. Every country, career or whatever have these two person/things on the said chain they’re in competition with. So because I’m talking about music, I’ll give instances of incessant comparisons amongst contemporaries.
In South Africa, we have the endless Casper Nyovest & AKA feud, in Ghana, we have Stonebwoy & Shattawale, in Tanzania we have Alikiba & Diamond, in Nigeria there’s Wizkid & Davido. A constant with these stars is how initially try to pretend like it’s nothing until the perceived ‘understudy’ begins to overtake; a valid example was Yemi Alade rooting for Tiwa Savage in 2015 when Tiwa was on maternity leave but when Tiwa returned to reclaim her throne, the narrative hasn’t been same. So this isn’t always about fans or media pitching them against each other, at some interviews even, their body language gives them away but its bothersome because what’s the essence of the word – contemporaries if there can’t be co-stars, is it really possible for just a person to be at the center stage for so long?
For a growing music industry like Africa’s, I think we need more representatives to propel our sound beyond, due to the dearth of female music acts, these comparison had been more reserved for males only as there’s barely as much females on the center stage due to societal odds being against them (though its getting better). In the last 4 years, Two female acts have been doing massively well across the continent and beyond, smashing records and garnering recognition that used to seem impossible for females.
These are Tiwa Savage and Yemi Alade both from Nigeria. Tiwa came into the industry in 2010 and has been on a roll since then, there were
few other females but it seemed like Tiwa was taking no prisoners and her royalty status got sealed with her 2013 smash Eminado, that soared beyond Africa at a time when social media wasn’t much of a promotional tool.
Yemi had her own big break in 2014 with smash Johnny, it went beyond expectation across the world as it could be dubbed arguably, the biggest song ever by a female artiste in Nigeria or even Africa. It’s currently the most-viewed video by an African-based artiste on YouTube save for Morocco’s Saad Lamjarred.
I might just cut the chase and hit home, following Hot FM‘s OAP Misi’s opinion on Tiwa while having an interview with Yemi where she said Tiwa ‘shouts’ and Yemi actually sings, the Nigerian internet have been steaming with the Tiwa/Yemi comparison with most people on Twitter opining Yemi to be so big in Africa that she’s bigger than Tiwa Savage. According to these people, Tiwa Savage’s reign doesn’t exceed Nigeria.
I’ll be breaking hearts and shaking tables with this post as well as keeping it hundred or over. Note that this isn’t about who’s best (I don’t comment on such as I believe in uniqueness and preference) but who’s bigger is highly debatable.
We’re quite used to a habit where we try to rob Peter to pay Paul like OAP Misi unethically proved but I won’t be giving her that much relevance as she’s ever unimportant. Yemi Alade is multilingual as she’s sang in French, Swahili and Portuguese to some of her hit singles like Johnny, Nakupenda, Kissing and Nagode. This move has endeared her to fans in Francophone and Eastern countries but is she bigger than Tiwa in Africa? Possibly not! We’re quite adept in joining bandwagon instead of being grounded in making researches and be equipped with our own knowledge rather than surface-sighting or perception. Tiwa might not be multilingual but you don’t overrule her star power to validate Yemi’s . If we’re going by the Yemi headlines shows in French speaking countries narrative, then you best put Chidinma as Africa’s biggest female act because she headlines in even more Francophone countries despite her inconsistency. There’s this perception that Tiwa is nobody outside Nigeria and I’m disproving that.
The public mistake Tiwa’s physical absence in some African counties as lack of influence or recognition and it’s heresy.
Tiwa visited Kenya for the first time in 2016 for a concert wasn’t just sold out but Tiwa Savage was the talk of the town. Kenya’s biggest artistes Sauti Sol came all the way to Nigeria for a song/video with Tiwa dubbed Girl Next Door. Tiwa had singles like All Over, Malo & Get It Now atop Kenya, Gambia & Uganda iTunes and radio charts during their reign.
In 2015, Tiwa Savage performed with her bump at Women’s Day Celebration in Uganda. She also won two major awards – Abryanz Style & Fashion Awards as Most Stylish African Female act and HiPoPo Award as Best African female act both in Uganda in 2017.
“I have always loved this woman and her music…
She’s one of my favorite African idols..
When she told me that she loves my music plus she was watching my performance and she loved it!!!
I couldn’t stop smiling….
She’s so sweet…and down to earth Tiwa Savage
Thank u for the beautiful compliments,
Forever inspired & Motivated.
#Women’s Day #Queenz Queen’ #Dreamsdocometrue if u just believe.”
If God gives me a chance, because I know such opportunities does not come easy. You have to work hard. Of course they see me and know who I am, Tiwa Savage sometimes comments on my social media posts. She knows who I am, we’ve talked but I want her to give me the collabo through my hard work after seeing that I also have something to deliver. But Not just forcing or paying for it or when I ask her for one, she won’t object because I have something to bring to the table.” – Sheebah Karungi, Uganda’s biggest female artiste on Tiwa Savage.
Tanzania’s biggest music export, Diamond Platnumz trailed Tiwa all the way to South Africa to have her on his song and video dubbed Fire. Aren’t all these East African counties or I’m wrong? Don’t get me started on the projects Tiwa have been featured on across Africa.
Tiwa arguably has as much presence in Francophone countries as she performed at KUNDE Awards, the biggest award show in Burkina Faso faced by a wild crowd, hopped in a private jet for a gig in Cote d’Ivoire in 2016,booked by private jet to perform in Ethiopia in 2017. Foremost Francophone rapper, MHD just featured Tiwa in his forthcoming album.
All these and more is a tease of Tiwa’s star power across Africa and because she doesn’t frequent these places doesn’t mean she’s not happening there. It may interest you to know that Tiwa is the one of the most expensive artistes in Nigeria. In South Africa and Ghana, Tiwa’s Queen status is matchless!
So we praise Yemi for selling out venues in Europe and what’s not but in a bid to invalidate Tiwa’s hard-work over the years. We’re very gullible as we ignorantly hop on the bandwagon of what is see/said online and the quest to be detailed and well-informed is losing it’s essence by the day. Do you check the venues Yemi ‘sells out’? 90% of the venues are 500-700 capacity, which is okay as it’s her preference but pitching that against Tiwa is downright cretinous. Not everyone wants to do a 500-capacity hence you allow them time to go at their own pace. The running cost of touring is no joke as these artistes barely make as much as you’d imagine; not overlooking personal circumstances. Some greats like Micheal Jackson have affirmed that they hate touring and really, touring doesn’t depict the status of an artiste especially in the Nigerian music industry where everyone wants to be perceived as internationally blown, so they set up a ‘200 capacity venue’ where in some cases the price is slashed to increase sales then run to Instagram to post sold out- their utmost favourite phrase.
It’s funny to say Tiwa’s star power is restricted in Nigeria and in a time when Yemi is supposedly the “biggest in Africa” and Tiwa was the first African artiste to be featured on E! VIP 2016, Tiwa has mounted bigger stages like BET Experience 2014, NBA African Games 2017, South African Idol 2017, Grammy’s Black Women in Music 2017, Made in America 2017 and Tiwa is set to share same stage as Beyonce, Jay Z and Ed Sheeran in South Africa at the Global Citizen Concert, Nelson Mandela’s 100th posthumous birthday which would also host the likes of Oprah Winfrey,Tyler Perry and Naomi Campbell.
Migos, J Cole, Ciara have been to Nigeria, doesn’t mean they’re bigger or can pull a crowd more than Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Beyonce, Drake etc but getting them to Nigeria or Africa may ruin organizers’ budget so they opt for the lesser acts and all we care about here is that they are foreign and visiting Nigeria.
Nigerian artistes are doing great across Africa and have attained feats to brag about but the idea of putting one down to raise another is fast becoming stale. It’s never been documented that only a star can exist at a time hence we should do better to be supportive, the competition thing is becoming pretty much baseless.
However Chidinma headlines as much shows in Francophone countries buy doesn’t place her at same pedestal as Tiwa Savage and Yemi Alade in Africa. Bottom line, Yemi Alade isn’t bigger but more AFFORDABLE than Tiwa Savage. This could vary by the promoters in charge of the event they’re being hired for.