The low staying power for Tiwa Savage’s Once Upon A Time album required Mavin to follow-up the debut with R.E.D, a heavily marketed sophomore album that still didn’t give her artistry the oomph of a culturally relevant LP. It also didn’t help that R.E.D‘s release came after her marriage and childbirth hiatus and was followed by the media circus around her flailing marriage to Tunji ‘Tee Billz’ Balogun at the time.
This new era is particularly important for Tiwa Savage because it has been earmarked by her new management and distribution deal with Roc Nation. The eventual triumph of the publicity around her private life last year has given the singer another breather to work on new material, amidst talks of an upcoming project in the new year. With a new creative direction, Sugar Cane’ comes a 6-track EP premise for what’s come.
Packaged by Spellz, B2J, and Maleek Berry who all produced credits for the tape, Tiwa Savage surfaces with a bit of surprise through ‘Sugar Cane’. Though title track “Sugar Cane” feels somewhat disjointed, house synths that line the baseline give the indication, it may not be missing from party playlists. Sugar Cane eases into the guitar-set “Get It Now”, a marimba-infused playful love song, that manages to play like a recursion of Tekno’s steel pan wave and a cut from an Owambe set at the same time. Maleek Berry distinct Afro-Carribean introduction is all you need for the next track, “Me and You” to stick around, but it gets better when dancehall drums set into the fusion of EDM synths and sirens, with Tiwa holding firmly at the top of it all. “Hold Me Down” sways and settles the project again at Tiwa’s natural’s R&B form, leading to lead single “All Over”, and “Ma Lo”, the second collaboration between Wizkid and Tiwa Savage since they first got together for “Bad” off R.E.D
While Sugarcane ships most of the sounds we have heard from Afropop in the last two years, it appears, the absence of Don Jazzy’s overhaul on the project (as we have seen from her previous albums) allowed Tiwa a wider creative range. Her songwriting strong suit is showcased here for the first time since she first levelled her brand at Afropop/R&B with experimental bass heavy cuts like “Kele Kele” and Love Me x3 circa 210. It’s easy to miss, but this is a reminder that Don Jazzy’s mass market formula encourages artists to use denser songwriting for increased accessibility. On Sugar Cane Tiwa Savage’s brightest moments are where her speech is paced and sweetly sung to keep the emotional quality of her R&B. This is a love project alright, but Tiwa Savage is also returning to basics. You may want o stream Sugar Cane for yourself via SoundCloud here.