Tiwa Savage is one of Nigeria’s biggest pop stars, coming home from the UK after a stint in the UK X-factor and publishing deals as a songwriter in the US to start a career from scratch.
In five short years, she has gone from relative unknown taking music and fashion cues from Rihanna to a truly original music and fashion phenomenon. And if her music videos are anything to go by, Tiwa’s fashion evolution has been one hell of a ride.
IF I START TO TALK
Tiwa Savage has gotten to a place now in her career where she is completely secure in her identity as a Nigerian popstar. She subverts the idea of gender by wearing traditional Nigerian menswear from Nigerian designer Elegante by Tiannah Styling and many of the extras in the video are dresses in dashikis and iro and bubas. There are traditional masks and even the children in the video are garbed in Nigerian formal wear. But it hasn’t always been this way with Tiwa Savage.
When Tiwa Savage first came into our collective consciousness, it was with the song KELE KELE LOVE, a music video that bears some seriously striking similiarity to Rihanna’s Rude boy video (Yemi Alade also makes a version of this video in 2015 but that is material for another article).
Starlet Tiwa was very much a product of the era in her Kele Kele love video, painted Lycra bodysuits were all the rage, as were spikeless heels and rompers, just gaining popularity. But what really did it for us in the video was Savage’s hair. Tiwa Savage’s video made all the Nigerian pop stars sit up and up their hair game. She was laid!
Then there was Love 3x, which first introduced us to the risque side of Ms Savage, a side we were going to see make occasional appearances, the breadth of her career. Following the runaway success of Kele Kele love, everyone was suddenly interested in Tiwa Savage and waiting to see what she would do next. What she did, was give us some major cleavage baring in a feathered coat. It was a calculated risk that came with perks and pitfalls. On one hand we were talking about her, on the other, any hope of her making a career as a good girl was done and dusted.
Then Tiwa Savage surprised us with the video for Ife wa gbono, her first attempt at wedding music. Gone were the fabulous weaves and the feathered coats, what we got instead was a stripped down Savage, in an iro and buba, her hair in matted conrows. Hard to believe but she makes a really convincing good girl. And if the 4 million views the video has is anything to go by, a lot of people think so too.
Then she signed with Mavin Records and became the Mavin first lady. And she got married too, alienating a huge part of her male fanbase who thoroughly enjoyed the fantasy of one day maybe landing a total babe like Tiwa. She released the successful but ultimately polarizing Eminado video that saw her go to the roaring 60’s for inspiration with bell bottom pants, an afro and sequinned mini dresses a la the Supremes. Hello old world glamour.
There was talk that Tiwa Savage was going to go gently into the night and become a dowdy housewife who sang moving torch songs about love and marriage. But Savage hasn’t had any of it. Pressured from within and without, she made her first real misstep in her career with the video WANTED, pairing kitten heels with an ill-fitting bodysuit, no ma’am. Nope
Then Tiwa Savage and her husband announced her pregnancy and she proceeded on a near two year hiatus, paving the way for the rise of Seyi Shay and Yemi Alade. But never fret because when Savage decided to make her comeback with her surprise album RED, she did so with the video for African Waist, which had her revisit many of the fashions in her first video but updated for a newer, more confident diva with something to prove. Add a bit of Don Jazzy and a street carnival and she had a winner on her hands.
Would be interesting to see what Tiwa decides to do next, whatever it is, we’re here for it.