Is Simi the next Queen of Nigerian pop/soul? (Long Read)

by Tosin Adeda

simi 

“My parents, my mum especially, were in support of my music when I was in school. For them, it was kind of like a hobby I had going. When I graduated and they saw I was taking it more seriously than they first thought, they got a little bit concerned. They didn’t want me to ‘waste’ my certificate. But now, even more than ever, I have their support and encouragement”

 

“’Ara ile’ was definitely my breakout song, I can’t even lie. Samklef and I were trying to work on my album and I was more into writing slow and mid-tempo songs. Sam said we had to do something groovy. So we sat and wrote and tweaked and tackled. Thus, ‘Ara ile’ was born. I remember that he spent so much time mixing and mastering the song, more time than he spent on any other song. I got tired of hearing it after a while but it was totally worth it. It’s weird that it wasn’t my favourite song on the album though.”

 

“Thank you for the compliment. Song writing, for me, is as special as the actual singing. Anything can trigger my writing a song. Usually, it’s just plain ol’ regular life. Chocolate Brown is just a story of real life happenings and how frustrating it can be. I like to tell real stories. A lot of the time, I get inspiration for my songs in the weirdest and most inconvenient places. “Take a Chance” came to me on a plane. I didn’t have a pen or paper, I had to use the bag you use if you get sick. I also had to beg for a pen. I was on the flight with a comedian friend of mine. He teased me the entire flight. Songs have come to me in the bath and I can’t very well rush out covered in soap-lather. So you can imagine me rushing my bath so I can hurry up and put the song down. It’s so much fun for me though, always.”

 

“I definitely have plans. I’m working on my video for ‘Chocolate Brown’ and definitely a couple new singles, all leading towards my album by the grace of God. It’s a journey and I’m going to take it one day at a time. I’m also thinking of doing a lot of covers for songs I’m totally crazy about. I recently did one for Wizkid’s “Love My Baby”. That was fun.”

“Truth is, in the Nigerian music scene now, it’s almost as though everyone is doing the same thing and everyone expects you to go the same way, if you’re an artist. I hate the norm. It’s boring. So, I intend to just do it different. I love music. I genuinely love it and I don’t intend to do anything that’s more noise than music.”

All quotes are from my 2013 interview with singer Simi, an episode of #TosinadedaHYPE, a platform for projecting relatively unknown talents to the world. The singer has since moved from being relatively unknown, to being one of the golden voices in the Nigerian music industry. Interview here.

One of her parting words in that 2013 interview was that she would be doing a lot of covers, obviously in an attempt to get the attention of people and possibly ink a record deal based on the success of the covers.

One of her many covers, was a blend of Chris Brown’s “Don’t judge me” and Asa’s “Bibanke”. The idea alone was genius, the perfect execution of blending both songs into one, was just beautiful and wonderful.

Simi put out an EP of covers titled “The Restless EP” in January 2014. The 5 track EP was a breath of fresh air at the moment. Her delivery was impeccable, the crispness of the sound and the witty lyrics and wonderful storylines, made the EP a success.  Apart from writing, Simi recorded the EP on her laptop, and also mixed and mastered the project.

The EP is one of my favourite body of work by a Nigerian till date, it is an almost perfect EP that you can never get tired of.

 Simi-Restless-ART

RESTLESS EP.

All these attributes would come together to form the brand called Simi. Being a writer, singer and being able to mix and master were one too many skills that meant it didn’t take long before she started getting offers from record labels.

Simi finally got signed to X3M music and the journey has been quite smooth. At this rate, she would probably become the Nigerian queen of pop and soul music.

Simi’s first offering(s) with X3M were titled “TIFF” and “E no go funny”, both songs produced by in house producer Oscar Herman-Ackah. While “TIFF” is the typical Simi kind of soul,  on “E no go funny” she tries out her pop side, with instrumental s laced with local drums and congas, the song is  one for the clubs.

‘TIFF’ has the songstress displaying her vocal prowess on a mid-tempo instrumental. Her perfect blend with the melody of the beat, shows her pop/soul side without forgetting her African roots.

The video depicts the lyrics of the song and even made the song bigger.

 

After the success of her singles, Simi put out a much bigger tune, “Jamb Question”. The vocal delivery on this song is just flawless. Produced once again by Herman-Ackah, who does a wonderful job with the instrumentals; from the drums to the saxophone and the piano. All these allow a perfect blend with Simi’s vocals to give a very mid tempo soothing tune.

Simi once again showed her wonderful story telling skills on this song. The phrase, “Jamb Question” soon became a perfect and default reply to questions that people saw as funny. The song had that much influence on the Nigerian pop culture. The video, shot by video director Mex emerged one of the best videos of 2015 with top notch scenery and picture quality. The appearance of rapper/comedian Falz even made the video more interesting and was a precursor to the remix.

Simi ended 2015 with a party song, yes a party song titled “Open and Close”. It is very rare for party songs in Nigeria to have a storyline and actually have lyrics that make sense, but Simi managed that on this song and it was good. The song has this blend of pop and fuji music, that once again displayed her vocal abilities, even on a dance track. The video of the song comes with a dance routine, and once again Mex breathes perfect visuals to depict the storyline.


2015 was a wonderful year for Simi and it is only natural to expect that 2016 will be better. Few days to Valentine’s Day, Simi dropped a gem, a love song titled “Love don’t care.” My first impression after hearing that song was unexplainable, I had goose bumps and I asked myself how a song could be so simple yet so powerful. “Love don’t care” is a song that explains the true essence and meaning of love, the words are so powerful, the song preaches love despite ethnicity, religion or status.


Simi has what it takes to be the queen of soul music and pop music in Nigeria, and I will give my reasons briefly, based on the music she has put out.

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SIMI has the type of voice that is unique, her vocal prowess and range is almost unrivalled, and the smoothness and clarity of her voice are other factors that make her unique. Below is a live performance to prove that her vocals as heard on recordings are no fluke.


Simi’s song writing skill is another special ability she possesses. She pens lyrics that are very relatable, not too complex and sensible. The way she fuses her lyrics into stories that take you on a journey all through the song and keeps your stuck to the end is gold. Imagine listening to an interesting story in a language you understand, in form of a song, delivered with a sweet voice and dope instrumentals, that’s Simi’s music for you.

Simi’s knowledge of the rudiments of music is one skill that gives her an edge over her counterparts. Mixing and mastering is not a job for everyone, the complexity of it is not debatable. Simi mixes and maters her own music, this explains the quality of her sounds and the smoothness of the vocal delivery.

Simi is very versatile, one moment she’s doing pop, next its soul music or R&B. Her “Open and close” is a dance song well delivered.  Simi’s love for African contemporary sounds is a massive plus. She knows her roots well, and her music always has this African feel to them all the time. Originality is a major key to success.

Lastly, SIMI is very lovable, like it or not, this is a very important part of success. Apart from being lovable, her good looks and simplicity also form a major part of her brand.

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