Tiwa Savage’s Water & Garri is an experiment in maturity; it is served with the credence of a skilled recording artist who has been there and done that, and is now entering into a new phase. Water & Garri is not your typical Tiwa Savage EP; if you were expecting all the “gun-mi-labe, boy-gimme-your-long-tin,” lyrics of Celia, you will not find it here.
Her opening salvo, Work Fada, is a deep dive into the rewards of hard work. Its easy jazz guitar style is peppered with anecdotes from Tiwa and Rich King. The legendary Nas enters with maxims about laziness and getting out of bed which, if it weren’t a message for all of Africa to get up and do something, would have seemed to be blaming the poor man for his poverty. But Nas delivers on his assignment and the piece arrives well baked for posterity.
Ade Ori is a full R&B jam straight out of the late 90s. Again, one is pleasantly surprised by Tiwa’s evolution since Celia which was released only a year ago. The 80s-style electric guitar work is executed with the mastery of Greg Howe.
For those looking for the essential Tiwa, Tales by Moonlight, featuring Amaarae, will get you vibing to Cracker Mallo‘s masterful production. Perhaps the most exciting thing about this track is the understated saxophone which drizzles intermittently through the track.
Tailgating after Tales is the Brandy-featured Somebody’s Son, a late-summer hit that is impossible to ignore. Brandy is the perfect feature for this EP, her smokey mezzo-soprano effortlessly fuses with the RJ-style production by Michael Ajayi. The song is reminiscent of Brandy’s U Don’t Know Me, but is unquestionably distinct in its style. Turning Brandy into a broken-hearted Yoruba girl makes it all the sweeter.
Water & Garri ends with the Tay Iwar feature, Special Kinda. Fans of Tyler or Frank Ocean will like this electronic-funk summery track. Again, this surprise pivot from Tiwa Savage will surely receive some interest from a more diverse, international audience – this is probably her intention.
On the whole, one wishes there were more songs on Water & Garri, still, one thing is clear: this is an EP for a different crowd. Like an Hors d’age, it’s better served straight, with interesting people who can truly appreciate its value.
Abayomi Owope is a Nigerian writer, TV presenter and communications specialist. He is the founder of the yearly conference, Women in Journalism, and the managing director of the Lagos PR Agency.