God’s Timing’s the Best

God’s Timing’s the Best

At the end of the string of lurid, attention-grabbing singles that blazed a path to the pinnacle of Afropop for him in 2019, Naira Marley released Lol (Lord of Lamba), a six-track EP that crystallised the “Soapy” singer’s reputation as a cheeky but daring personality with a knack for courting outrage at every turn. In the three years since then, the Marlian Music president has become an unmissable fixture in Nigerian pop music, releasing a string of hit singles and setting up a thriving record label that houses some of the country’s finest street-pop acts. Each win has only made him more insouciant and irreverent, inspiring both frenzied acclaim and disdain in equal measure for his iconoclastic style, which can often be interpreted as a light-hearted rebuke of Nigeria’s puritanical ethos. So, for many, it might come as a surprise to see him reach into the spiritual for his album title, but Marley believes that his steps are ordered by the divine. “The title has a lot to do with me because I’m a very godly person and there’s just a lot that was going on in my life,” he tells Apple Music. “It’s like God’s time. When I try to do it in my own time, I see a lot of reasons that I would have failed if it was my time, so there were a lot of things that were going on and it was just God planning my journey.” Frequently on God’s Timing’s the Best, Marley moves with an aura that can come only from an assurance of divine predestination, playfully stitching elements from fuji, R&B, bashment and Afroswing into a suave, non-conformist interpretation of street-pop over gleaming instrumentals supplied by Rexxie, Niphkeys and AYK Beatz. Still, there is love at the centre of God’s Timing’s the Best: love for self, love for money and love for family. It’s all in there, as Marley moves to the pulse of God’s timing. Read on as he runs us through the album, one track at a time. “Jo Dada” “With ‘Jo Dada’, I was recording with Niphkeys. I was making the beat with him, telling him what sound I wanted, and after we finished having the idea for the beats. For some reason, I had lots of dollars in my pocket, and I just came up with the idea for the song off that. So, it came up like, ‘If you dance properly, I will give you these dollars.’ I didn’t have a problem writing something like three verses or two and a half verses to the tune because I already had the topic.” “Happy” (feat. Mayorkun) “I was with Mayorkun; this was a long time ago. He came to the Marlian House to get a verse for ‘What Type of Dance’. Rexxie was around also, and he always seems to have all the beats, so he played a beat. By the time I recorded the verse for ‘What Type of Dance’ for Mayorkun, we were super high. Mayorkun and I have a lot of music to make because we grew up in the same area, a place called Ilasamaja. We tried to be honest on that song, so everything on that song is a true story—it’s organic, and it’s how I was feeling on that day. We didn’t even know we made a banger until we sobered up.” “Ayewada” “‘Ayewada’ means ‘where is the space’. This is just something I felt was also natural. A lot of people are thinking I left them or that I’m not their friend again—people that were actually not my friends or didn’t see me as a friend before. Right now, they think I’ve changed on them. So, ‘Ayewada’ is just like, ‘Where is this space? Yes, you know me from back in the days, but where were you back in the days?’ I was feeling like, ‘Yo, why are these people feeling like I left them? They were never my friends. They never saw me as a friend when I needed friends.’” “o’dun” (feat. Zinoleesky) “Honestly, Rexxie was burning through the beats, and I’m like, ‘This beat still sounds like “Coming”.’ But I didn’t mind because ‘Coming’ is a banger and it’s my song, you know what I mean? Many people have done a cover to ‘Coming’ and it’s OK; I can always do a cover to my song too. I did my part and, to be honest, Zinoleesky knows the lyrics to the song. He’s one of the first people to know it, and it’s not even because he was meant to be on it—he just knows the lyrics because we used to sing it. So, I told him, ‘Why don’t you just jump on it then?’ It was not meant to be on the album, but he jumped on it, and it was a sweet song.” “No Panties” (feat. Jada Kingdom) “‘No Panties’ is my magician, Rexxie, again with the beats and mix. There was a lot of nonsense going on at that time in England about Marlians telling people not to wear panties. I didn’t say that, but it’s OK. If they want to put the blame on me, I will take that blame. It’s kind of a reggae, Afrobeats, dancehall kind of vibe. It’s a jam. I sent it to Jada Kingdom. I text her and I’m like, ‘Yo. Get on “No Panties”.’ She’s like, ‘Why not?’ She got on it, and she murdered it. She is sick. She is super talented anyway. I listen to her music a lot, and when I get her on it, I was psyched. ‘No Panties’ is a jam.” “Montego Bay” “Going back to people thinking I leave them and I run away. Now, I’m saying if I actually decide to run, I will run away somewhere far away, literally like China or Montego Bay. I mean far away, where nobody will see me, and ‘Montego Bay’ is also for my day-zero fans who ask for songs like ‘Flying Away’ and ‘Marry Juana’. I don’t know, but I think that’s the closest I would get on an album. That’s the closest I’ll get to my day zero-fans, and everybody around me loves it—it’s one of their favourite songs. It was easy for me to make. I made it in under one minute.” “Melanin” (feat. Lil Kesh) “Whenever I link up with Kesh, it’s always a banger. It was just me and Kesh vibing with all the Marlians in the house. We just vibing with Niphkeys. That was not the best we could make on that day, but this actually came out as the best song in the world. We could have made more because we kept writing to the beat. We made about 12 songs on that beat before we decided to put one down. So, he went first, and I did the crazy verse, and it just turned out nice.” “Drink Alcohol Like It’s Water” (feat. Diquenza & Chivv) “I linked up with Chivv. I’ve always listened to him, and I really liked his sound. But I didn’t know I was going to meet him. I was in the studio, and then they came to the studio knowing I was Naira Marley. When he came to the studio, he didn’t expect me to know who he was. I was like, ‘You’re Chivv’ and started singing his song to him. He was about to ask if I was Naira Marley, too, and introduce himself. He’s about to sing my song and I’m like, ‘No, listen, let me sing your song.’ It was natural. We were just chilling and then, eventually, I started recording and got him on the song.” “Excuse Moi” (feat. MHD) “S.I. introduced me to AYK. She told me to listen to him—that he was very good. He made a couple of beats for me and come over to play them. There were beats that had different styles. He played a beat that sounded a little Spanish. So, I actually had to work with this sound. MHD is French, so I was like, ‘OK, let me do one that is a Spanish sound.’ The beat already sounds foreign, and I’m foreign to people, and MHD is foreign, too, and we brought it together. I love MHD; to me, he’s like another Naira Marley in France. He’s actually good people. I would trust him already without meeting him.” “Modinat Kai” “This is the kind of song that’s really my old style. It’s old-school Naira Marley, but people will not let it go. I had to do this one for my people on the album. This is like the typical Yoruba sound. The closest Yoruba sound on the album. The title is kind of funny, and everyone is looking forward to it.” “Owo” (feat. MohBad) “‘Owo’ is another song that I did with Rexxie. It’s just a nice song that I recorded, and everyone loves it. MohBad loved the song so much that he went out of his way to put a verse on it, which I appreciate. He made the song a banger already; he added ad-libs to it, and he made the song a completed song. I was like, ‘Oh, OK, nice.’ I’m a fan of MohBad even though he’s one of my artists. I’m a very good fan.” “First Time in America” “‘First Time in America’ is a very huge song for the Afrobeats sound, and it has a lot of lessons. After ‘First Time in America’, there were 10 songs or so that sounded like ‘First Time in America’, but it’s OK, the sound is a banger. It was also my first time in America. For the song, I explained my journey around the globe. My journey shutting down shows in different places, and it just tells you where I’ve been and where I want to go.” “Coming” (feat. Busiswa) “I had the idea for the song in, like, 30 seconds after the beat played. But I made the song in, like, to be honest, one take. With Rexxie again, playing around in my kitchen. There are so many artists in my house, so you need to be quick with ideas, so he doesn’t give the beat to anyone else. I didn’t even really have the lyrics to the song. I was just playing around with the ‘sucking’ part. Normally, that was meant to be a melody, but I kept that original part. I met Busiswa; I was meant to do a song with her when she was in Nigeria. I liked her vibe, so I told her to jump on this one too. She’s like my evil twin. Just the vibe alone was just to jump on the song. No one else could have jumped on the song and brought it to life like that.” “Kojosese” “‘Kojosese’ is like a carnival kind of song. It’s like a very uptempo party vibe. Dancing, leg-walk type of song. That one will get you high even if you didn’t take anything. Before I recorded that song, that beat was one of my favourite beats to sit and listen to, and to just dance to. I just had to find a producer, Leo Beatz, online, get the beat off him, get some approval so I can jump on it, and I did my thing.”

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