Water & Garri - EP
As the follow-up to her acclaimed third album, 2020’s Celia, Water & Garri unifies Nigerian soul singer-songwriter Tiwa Savage’s global influences—gleaned from spending primary years in Lagos, teenage years in London, and attending university in the US—into a collage of R&B, Afrobeats and pop. Named after the staple cassava dish and released in two parts, Water & Garri mashes together the sounds and styles of global collaborators along with her own. “You wouldn’t think that blending water and garri would go so well, but it does,” Tiwa tells Apple Music. “That’s what this EP is—I’m bringing people into my world. It’s a mixture of all the things I’ve picked up along the way—from my jazz background, loving gospel, R&B, soul, Afrobeat—but then also stepping into new territories and just experimenting, and the alté kind of sound.” Released in August 2021, the EP’s first half loops in a diverse range of talents, from long-time friend Rich King, Tay Iwar and Ghanaian American singer Amaarae to US rapper Nas and R&B singer Brandy. Here, Tiwa shares the story behind the songs.
“Work Fada” (feat. Nas & Rich King) “‘Work Fada’ is an encouragement to a dispirited man, and it’s telling him to pull his weight. Parts of it sound confrontational, but other parts of it are endearing—encouraging him, telling him he can be all he can be. And then you have other parts throughout the song where it’s like, 'Work!' And it’s basically that sharp, pulsing rhythm, telling him to just get up and do it. If he does get up and do it, he’ll reach his full potential. ‘Work Fada’ is featuring Rich King, who is a childhood friend of mine; I’ve known him since I was about 11 or 12, a fantastic musician. There’s loads of parts of it in Yoruba, and then Nas is just so poetic in the way he just concludes everything and brings it home.”
“Ade Ori” “Traditionally [in Nigerian culture] your significant other is referred to as the crown of your head. There’s a line in the chorus which says, 'I won’t lose the crown on my head.' It’s talking about how you wouldn’t have let me suffer or gone through this heartache if you were really the crown that was meant for my head.”
“Tales by Moonlight” (feat. Amaarae) “It’s such a vibe. Growing up, there was this TV show I used to watch called Tales by Moonlight, and this woman or this man would sit under this tree, with 10 kids sitting in front, and they’d tell them stories. But it was all these made-up stories, like ‘The tortoise came, and the tortoise stole wheat’ and this and that, or 'The witch flew over the moon'—those kinds of crazy stories. But they always used to have a good ending, a happy ending—a Cinderella ending. ‘Tales by Moonlight’ is me reminiscing on those stories and saying that I want my love story to be like a Cinderella story.”
“Somebody’s Son” (feat. Brandy) “I think everybody has seen how excited I am about this, because Brandy is my idol, my mentor—I grew up listening to and studying her. Initially when we made a connection, there was another song that she was supposed to do that was more R&B, and literally at the last minute I was like, nah, we need to change it, we need to do Afrobeat—but still have R&B melodies to complement it. She killed it, even when she sang in my language; it was amazing how, sonically, we blend together. It’s a female anthem; it’s an amazing concept—'Somebody’s son gonna find me one day.' When women sing about love, a lot of times—not all the time—it’s from a bitter standpoint. But this girl is saying that even though she’s been hurt so many times, she still believes, and someday, she’s still holding out; one day she’s going to find that true love.”
“Special Kinda” (feat. Tay Iwar) “Tay Iwar is just amazing and so cool; he just brings a coolness to the whole project. It’s another love song, but there’s a different twist to it: needing someone, yearning for someone, desiring someone—not necessarily in a sexual way, but just your spirit, your soul wanting to be with someone. As soon as I heard it, I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if we sung it together the whole way? Not like, ‘You have a verse, I have a verse, we do the chorus and then the ad libs’—let’s just sing it together the whole way. And sometimes you don’t even know who you’re hearing—from beginning to end we’re singing it straight together, no harmonies, no ad libs.”