Pushed by her motherhood hiatus and what appeared to be a never-seen-before secret album drop, the release of Tiwa Savage’s R.E.D came with a shock value. In a surprising turn of events, however, it’s been less than a month since the LP’s release and the buzz that accompanied it has mostly disappeared.
Tiwa’s camp released the album for free downloads courtesy of music streaming service MTN Music. This was preluded by a PR campaign that incorporated the same meme generator technology, Dr. Dre used to promote his Straight Outta Compton movie. The Kele Kele love singer’s Mavin family also showed their support by teasing the #iamRED hashtag up till the album’s release. These should have at least set an atmosphere for the album, but it did not.
The album has slipped out of social media trending topics and blogs. Even critics seem to have shied away from reviewing the album for obvious reasons.
The album sucks… at least for a Tiwa Savage album.
A few good eggs: Although this album fails to meet standards expected of a comeback album from Tiwa Savage, it houses some gems. Don Jazzy and Tiwa Savage demonstrate their versatility in Adura, a musical tribute to the Afro-Juju genre. Beyond this first track, the other bearable songs on this LP were mostly lifted by the guest artists who featured on them.
Vocals: Tiwa Savage’s unique voice shines all through the album even when she shoots herself in the foot with incoherent, unintelligible lyrics.
Guest Appearances: The features on this album did a lot to lift its feel. Track 1 and 2 featured vocals from Don Jazzy. Track 5 featuring Dr Sid plays like a relaxed duet of Dr Sid’s 2014 hit Surulere. Track 8, Love Me Hard is the best-produced song on this LP. It features a lyrical 2face we haven’t seen much in a while. Hear him sing amorously: “From January to December, I no dey use your love to play”. Track 9, features vocals from D’Prince to make for an okay song, even though we get the feel that Tiwa would have done just fine on her own. The last guest appearance is Track 15 which features Mavin starlet Reekado Banks, who has never really let us down you know?
Post-Production: The album gets cool points for sound mixing and production, shalla to Don Jazzy.
Disconnected dots: Tiwa told reporters there were three major themes of Romance, Expression and Dance behind the album’s conception. The LP would have gotten critical acclaim if she had been able to pull off what she intended. What she delivers instead is an ambiguous record with disjointed ideas. The LP plays from start to finish like a 16 – track collage of three incomplete ideas and inconsequential songs you will feel a dying urge to skip after a few seconds.
Lazy lyrics: Nigerian music has never been the place to look for content based music, so we will put a full stop on this.
Too much Don Jazzy: We understand Don Jazzy has always been a prominent part of albums by artists under his wing. This LP, however, had too much contribution from the producer. The first two songs on the album, Adura and African Waist directly featured vocals from Don Jazzy. Considering Don Jazzy practically buttered all the on the songs on the album with background vocals, that’s just way too much Don Jazzy than we’re used to.
Repeated sounds….another Don Jazzy factor: The entire album sounds like one really long lukewarm song with some relatively “okay” moments. Rewind sounds like a slower version of My Darlin and Kolobi sounds like a mid-tempo version of both of them. The same thing applies for Before Nko and If I Start to Talk. We don’t know for sure if this is tied to Don Jazzy being the album’s executive producer, but we can’t rule it out.
She Rapped… : Tiwa delivered some bars on Track 16. We appreciate the idea, but the music is a NO from us. Not cool Tiwa, not cool at all.
Lack of Maturity: Tiwa Savage fails to show any indication that her sound has improved or matured over the years. She obviously hasn’t evolved her sound from her Kele Kele days. Especially with the wave of younger artists like Seyi Shay and Yemi Alade, who are more willing to push boundaries and experiment.
The Verdict – 3.8/10
Sophomore albums are often used by artists to seal their place in their respective genres. For Tiwa Savage who has only achieved success with a few good singles in her entire career, she should have done more on this album. Her debut album Once Upon A Time had more successful singles yet it was met with similarly mixed reviews. Tiwa has clearly not learnt from her mistakes.
The R.E.D album is an alarmingly average album for an artist of her calibre, but she is not alone. There has been an increasing trend towards making lacklustre LPs in recent times due to obvious reasons. Nobody pays for music.
Artists make the bulk of their revenues from events and endorsements. This makes them less accountable to their fans. Giving them the freedom to do just whatever the hell they want (since the cheque from MTN will come anyway). The music is even further degenerated by the lack of a respected feedback system In Nigeria, because If you’re a critic, you’re just another hater.