Tiwa Savage, the queen of afrobeats and Nigeria’s very own, recently dropped Celia—her first body of work to come out on Motown Records.
The 13-track project, which she titled in tribute to her mother, features border-crossing collaborations including the likes of Sam Smith, Stefflon Don, Davido, Naira Marley, Hamzaa, and more—pointing towards the effort of artists coming out of the African continent to have global appeal. As a trailblazer and one of the few women in the afrobeats scene to stay the course and make a musical impact, Savage declares that she’s here to stay with this album.
“I decided to really just go back to what I loved and what I fell in love with as a musician, which is afrobeat combined with soul and R&B,” she explains in a July interview with France 24 English.
“So it’s very, very heavily influenced by that. And while I was creating the album, I actually didn’t listen to any other songs during the process of creating it because I didn’t want to be influenced by the trend of what was happening. You can expect real, hardcore R&B fused with afrobeats with this album,” Savage continued.
Take a peek at her NPR’s Tiny Desk (Home) set that features a selection of jams from Celia below.
Savage also notes that her journey with Motown Records/Universal Music Group thus far has been quite the experience. “It’s been amazing,” she continues. “The journey has been different from what I’m used to, but it’s definitely a lot more structured and there’s a lot more planning; more people involved who are key players in the industry. It’s giving me a chance to compete on the global scene with artists that I look up to and I love so much and just have that opportunity to be in the same space as them.”
Leading up to Celia’s release, Savage appeared in Beyoncé’s Black Is King visual album, performing “Kings to the Kingdom” from The Lion King: The Gift album. She then teased dropping “Temptation” in collaboration with fellow pop icon Sam Smith—a track of note on the album. The duo soothes our ears with a song about forbidden love. The London-produced track is a sonic mirage—giving us a glimpse of the summer that could have been. Savage and Smith also collaborated with the songwriting of “Temptation,” with rising afrobeats singer-songwriter Fireboy DML credited as a co-writer of the song.
Celia shows us how Savage stays in the pocket of what makes listening to R&B so warm, with the complex melodies and messages that align with afrobeat music. The album is a sonic journey—taking us through falling in love, heartbreak, navigating double standards and gender dynamics in relationships, boosting one’s confidence, and even showing gratitude for the road taken thus far in her career.
Here’s a roundup of reactions to the album we caught on social media: