Through sleeper hits and cheeky Afropop that wouldn’t be so distinct if it was any other singer, Niniola has leveled her brand of Afro-house in the class of unambiguously playlist-worthy pop music. Being the only woman to have pulled off a summer hit for 2017 with “Maradona”, is worthy of mention considering much has been heard but nought has been seen from a lot of seemingly top flight acts this year.
Bear in mind that this is the same woman that gave us “Ibadi”, “Jigi Jigi” and “Shabba”, and that her song craft is not so much as unidimensional as it is pieced separately to paint imagery instead of telling a wholesome prologue-plot-epilogue story. Though unintended, this sort of explains why her new single, “Sicker” feels like Niniola’s sparsest songwriting yet.
Flanked by Sarz, who has been one of the most instrumental forces behind Ninola’s meteoric rise, “Sicker” is poised as a walk-in-the-park club song. Heavy bass fills its opening moments before expanding into a soft house progression occasionally married with makossa guitar riffs and synths. Ninola’s cheeky refrain, warding off copy-cats from imitating her would fit on an Olamide song, but it almost makes no sense as she switches to a dance-inspired chorus to pace her story.
Rashidi is introduced into the picture here, and Nini sings “Mo lo so ko, mo pada de” (which loosely translates as “I went to the farm and came back”). Niniola returns to chorus as if to leave listeners to make sense of Rashidi’s play. But fans who know Niniola, know tracks indented with similar sensual undertones as in “Sicker” always carry a subliminal message, cleverly hidden to tease only the naughtiest minds. When Niniola’s story unfolds on a two-word bridge where she pleads for “Pongila”—an informal Yoruba iteration for ‘lollipop’—“Sicker” unveils to be a subtle erotic reference to oral sex and pleasures of the flesh.
Niniola is a proof of what many have gotten wrong about popular African music, the sound has not become stale, artists just need to be more inventive with presentation. “Sicker” is befitting as a typical example of Niniola’s ability to get away with raunchiness innocently wrapped as another typically-jollof music machination, by simply throwing a bit of storytelling and element of surprise in the mix.
See the video for Niniola’s “Sicker” below