You must have listened to Tiwa Savage’s debut album ‘Once Upon a Time’ by now and while so many opinions are going around, I thought I’d share mine with you.
I got chatting with the lovely lady some weeks back right before the album dropped. She broke down each song in detail, explaining their origin and/or her experience while recording them.
So let’s dig into this much awaited debut…..
1. ‘Once upon a time’ (Produced by Marcus McCauley)
Tiwa says: she picked this Disney-themed intro because it best suited the name of the album.
Osagie says: I think if you want to have intro for any album, it has to be creative, very creative. Tiwa’s intro does just that – creates an exciting anticipation for the remaining 20 tracks on the album.
2. ‘Wanted’ (Written by Tiwa Savage, Tiffany Fred. Produced by Warren ‘Oak’ Felder)
Tiwa says: she wrote this song after she read something about her on a popular blog. She also says the song took a while to be completed because her team had to clear the samples from Damien Marley’s ‘Welcome to Jamrock’.
Osagie says: This is by far the best song on the album. I like the fact it came in at track two; starting off with high spirits. Tiwa’s towering confidence through her vocals and lyrics plus Oak’s hard hitting drums is a perfect blend. Rihanna would be jealous.
3. ‘Ileke’ (Written by Tiwa Savage, TJ Billz. Produced by Gospel on the beats)
Tiwa says: she interpolated the names of popular Nigerian hardworking women in the high-tempo dance tune as a tribute to them E.g: Florence Ita-Giwa Omawumi, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Genevieve Nnaji, Joke Silva and a lot more. She also got Iyanya to do ad libs.
Osagie says: It’s a nice attempt to make dance music. Will make the clubs for sure. How do I explain this; it’s a vocals-on-point-but-don’t-bother-listening-to-the-lyrics-just-dance kind of song.
4. ‘Middle Passage’ (Written by Tiwa Savage. Produced by Raydar Ellis)
Tiwa says: this is a dedication to Nigerian men who work so hard but are not really encouraged.
Osagie says: Tiwa displays her impressive vocal ability which we know her for right here. She’s also a natural on jazzy beats. With the added effect of the conga and African drums, the song creates a peaceful ambience which she basically dominates. Calm yet capturing.
5. ‘Olorun Mi’ (Written by Tiwa Savage. Produced by Sauce Wilson)
Tiwa says: this is a tribute song she wrote for the lost ones…
Osagie says: A true ballad. Instrumentation is beautiful; the progression along with the prominent strings and synths will put you in a reflective mood. And the lyrics, memorable.
6. ‘Why don’t you love me’ (Written by Tiwa Savage. Produced by Don Jazzy, Altims)
Tiwa says: she enjoyed working with Don Jazzy in the studio, adding that the chemistry was great!
Osagie says: The first Mavin input is quite impressive. Definitively a club starter; a heavy tune with a bit of that Kwaito sound in it but can pass off as EDM. The slight infusion of the dubstep sound makes it all better. Tiwa’s vocals stand out as usual.
7. ‘Fela Interlude’ (Written by Tiwa Savage. Produced Sauce Wilson)
Tiwa says: she made this one-minute plus acapella as a tribute to the great Fela Kuti.
Osagie says: she should have made this a full length track! Best way to show off her very impressive vocals too.
8. ‘Love me, Love me, Love me’ (Written by Tiwa Savage, Richard King. Produced by Harmony Samuels)
Tiwa says: she was looking to do something that would have a bigger impact than her first single ‘Kele kele love’ but also sound a little bit different. She once again hooked up with Harmony Samuels.
Osagie says: I might have heard this song and watched her perform it over a thousand times but it still gets me. Over two years of its release and I still don’t tap the skip button.
9. ‘Eminado’ feat Don Jazzy (Written by Tiwa Savage. Produced by Don Jazzy)
Tiwa says: this is her favourite song off the album
Osagie says: this is totally horrible, unimaginably boring. A complete waste of time; from Don Jazzy’s poor singing and delivery to Tiwa’s obvious watered down lyrics.
10. ‘Folarin’ (Written by Tiwa Savage, Wande Coal. Produced by Spellz)
Tiwa says: she co-wrote the song with Mavin Records label mate Wande Coal and was her first work with323 Entertainment in-house producer Spellz ‘Magik Boi’.
Osagie: Similar to her first two singles but with more African sound. I also like the blend of the electro synths and Tiwa’s laidback flow with the strong adlibs in between. One of the most impressive songs off the album for me.
11. ‘Oh yeah feat Don Jazzy’ (Written by Tiwa Savage. Produced by Don Jazzy)
Osagie says: A much better collaboration from Tiwa and Mr Collins! Don Jazzy’s production is super outstanding and his call and response with Tiwa is commendable. A mix of EDM and African rhythmic beats.
12. ‘Shout out’ feat Iceberg Slim, Sarkodie (Written by Tiwa Savage, Iceberg Slim, Sarkodie. Produced by Spellz).
Tiwa says: she had fun recording this. She called up Iceberg in the dead of the night; he came through immediately to the studio, wrote his verse and laid it.
Osagie says: The best house party music since Burna Boy dropped ‘Like to party’ (don’t both songs sound similar by the way?). Other than Spellz using the same rhythmic progression as Banky W’s ‘Good good loving’ (which he wrote and produced by the way), the track rocks!
13. Written all over your face (Written by Tiwa Savage, Tiffany Fred. Produced by Warren ‘Oak’ Felder)
Tiwa says: the song is a sensual and very explicit track detailing cunnilingus.
Osagie says: the lyrics of the song are very graphic but far from lewd. Oak delivers the second best instrumental of the entire album while Tiwa shows us why she’s arguably the best vocalist in the country.
14. Get low (Written by Tiwa Savage. Produced by Sauce Wilson)
Tiwa says: she wrote this song for all women as a dedication to the special man in their lives.
Osagie says: So that the chauvinistic men don’t get all riled up on the previous track, ‘Get low’ almost serves as vice versa tune. Tiwa however treats us to a beautiful ballad.
15. Ife wa gbona feat Leo Wonder (Written by Tiwa Savage, Leo Wonder. Produced by Sossick)
Tiwa says: this song was actually recorded in 2010 despite being released in 2012.
Osagie says: does this song blend with the overall feel of the album? Maybe not but you’ve got to commend Tiwa for once again delivering another brilliant song coalescing with Leo Wonder. I think this should have been made a bonus cut.
16. Eji ma fia (Written by Tiwa Savage, Trafic. Produced by Spellz)
Tiwa says: *honestly, I can’t remember what she said here, I was already dancing to the song*
Osagie says: This is another party starter for sure but what strikes me is that when Tiwa wants to score a Nigerian pop jam, she loses her grip on lyrical content.
17. Baby mo feat Flavour (Written by Tiwa Savage, Flavour. Produced by Del B)
Tiwa says: after the duet with Flavour on ‘Oyi’ remix, the highlife singer returns the favour on this highlife themed joint.
Osagie says: Fast or rather pacey. Another commercially intended track. It would have sounded better if it was slowed down.
18. Stand as one feat General Pype (Written Tiwa Savage, General Pype. Produced by Spellz)
Tiwa says: the track should serve as a wake-up call for Nigerians. She also expressed her delight recording with General Pype.
Osagie says: Sounds nice but shouldn’t have made the final album cut. It certainly doesn’t blend in with the theme.
19. Thank you (Written by Tiwa Savage. Produced by Don Jazzy, Altims)
Tiwa says: just as the song title says, she acknowledges her many fans for listening to her music and supporting her career.
Osagie says: Despite being a cliché ‘thank you’ track, I think it’s not the best way to end the album. I think Tiwa could have ended it on a higher note.
In conclusion, Ms Savage dropped one of the best albums of the year. Production-wise, this is by far the best I’ve heard after Bez’s ‘Super Sun’ in 2011. You can obviously tell that Tiwa has tried to balance two major sounds on the LP – Nigerian contemporary music and Western urban sound; she clearly does better with the latter.
Big props should also go to her A&R team who conjured some of the best music producers to deliver a befitting debut. I’ll be bumping this one too many times…
My Score: 4/5

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