No one who follows the Nigerian music industry can accuse artistes of selling out anymore when they cozy up to corporations — not at a time when a Pepsi or Star Radler ad can do more to get a song noticed than Soundcloud or Boomplay ever will. In recent years, Nigerian leading female Afropop diva, Tiwa Savage has turned the notion of corporate endorsements on its head by becoming a corporation herself. Her evolution as a personal style brand is a case in point.
In almost a decade, Tiwa has undoubtedly become a force to be reckoned with in the music industry in Nigeria and Africa. She has maintained her presence at the pinnacle of the entertainment industry with back to back hit music and a stage presence that defies the odds.
In 2009, Sony/ATV Publishing signed Tiwa to a music deal. It was the deal that enabled her write for the likes of Babyface, Kat Deluna, Fantasia Barrino, Monica and Mya. Few years after her return home, in 2012 to be precise, she joined Don Jazzy’s Mavin Records, a label which shot her credibility up as a musical elite and multiple awards winner. All through these years, as she racked up song hits, music awards, sold out concerts to international record deals and topping the music charts with her hugely successful album “49-99”, Tiwa is gaining a reputation for her inventive and daring creative acts both on and off stage.
Popular music and fashion are inextricably linked. Asides her musical prowess, Tiwa has done something else as equally impressive, perhaps more so: rewritten the rules for the music and fashion industries. The 39-year old singer, obviously, is capitalizing on her music stardom and growing reputation as a style maven to shape popular taste in fashion, just as she has done with her music. No doubt, Tiwa’s stunning figure and youthful looks help but overall, she has proven that her style is consistent, cohesive whilst still remaining fashion-forward. She often switches between sporty, comfortable fashion and unapologetically sultry dresses, which makes her a perennial target for Nigeria’s tabloid paparazzi. On her boundary-pushing looks, Tiwa said; “I don’t really think about it too much. I just want to show that side of me. In the beginning of my career, I got a lot of backlash, but now it doesn’t stop me. I feel like it’s an extension of my art. It’s an extension of me.”
With almost 9 million followers on her official Instagram page and 3.2 million followers on Twitter, her social media pages are also dripping with pictures of her rocking various top designers. For those on the hunt for what is new in fashion, the singing sensation is, a sure bet, on their radar. With a glimpse into her fabulous life, particularly, on Instagram, Tiwa makes a distinction of her style and designers of choice from notable Nigerian to international brands. Indeed, when it comes to her personal style, incorporates her Nigerian culture into her style is not only important, but necessary to the singer.
In the visuals for her ’49-99′ video, Tiwa’s custom looks were all inspired by her culture. “I’m African. I’m a Nigerian woman and my music is Afrobeats. I try and incorporate that with my style, always. So whether it’s my hair or something that I’m wearing, I always want it to represent Africa. So I have really long braids today. But I’ll mix textures, patterns, and prints with my outfit,” Tiwa told BET.
The queen of Afrobeats has not been one to shy away from taking major fashion risks. She has always understood the power of fashion to shape perception, just as one of her influences, Rihanna has. Two years ago, on the trail of Rihanna who made it a trend, Tiwa daringly rocked the Tiered Tulle dress. This was to earn her a spot on Vogue’s list of fashion influencers who regularly feeds the imaginations of the fashion world.
According to Vogue, the singer is, in part, helped by her entourage of stylists which she has in different countries and for different clothing categories: One for stage costumes, one for trainers, one for street-wear, one for press looks. She can’t count them, but she will admit to travelling with at least 10 suitcases. “You have to move with the times and ensure you’re continuously growing as an artist, as a woman, as a follower of style,” Tiwa said about her evolution. But Tiwa wanted more than accolades for her attire. She has since been serving up show-stopping looks either at awards ceremonies or fashion shows.
In September, Tiwa makes her runway debut as one of the star-sprinkled cast at British International Supermodel, Naomi Campbell’s Fashion For relief Show in London. “Naomi’s been at the forefront of pushing Afrobeats and the continent to the world,” Tiwa told Vogue straight after the show’s finale. “She (Naomi) is super sweet, and to allow me to be a part of this is just incredible…It is definitely a different experience from singing. It was very quick, and it’s not as easy as it looks. I just found out.”
Prior to Naomi’s show, Tiwa had took New York Fashion Week by storm, attending every show that was put together for the people in the Diaspora to celebrate the Black culture as well as rubbed shoulders with the fashion elite. She later travelled to Milan, Italy, to perform her latest single ‘49-99’ at the Milan Fashion Week for the new collection of Iceberg. Early October, Tiwa, though not catwalking this time, serenaded fashion enthusiasts at the maiden edition of Design Fashion Africa grand finale at the Eko Hotels & Suite, Lagos.
Fascinated by her adventure as a growing style icon, Tiwa slays effortlessly in her gorgeous melanin popping skin in the November 2019 Print issue of America’s influential lifestyle magazine, Essence who profiles Tiwa in a lengthy feature article titled “Melanin Power”.
In the article, the magazine stated of Tiwa: “Brown Skin Girl, the standout track from The Lion King: The Gift, may be an anthem for Black beauties around the world, but for many, the album is an introduction to one beauty in particular: Tiwa Savage. The Nigerian Afrobeat singer is featured on the project in Keys to the Kingdom, and that title track is one of the first times she’s been able to put her music on a global scale. But it isn’t just her melodies that have captured our attention. We’re also fascinated by the woman behind the ballads.”
According to Essence, Tiwa’s beauty is to be celebrated. “With an eclectic style that oscillates between sexy siren and playful tomboy and hair that goes from her shoulder to the floor and back again, the entertainer is one to watch.”
In one of the pictures used for illustration in the article, it was the same Tiwa —with her stunning half-naked posture— shared on her Instagram feed on October 5 which later set the micro-blogging site on fire. The singer was completely naked from half way up as she used one of her hands to attempt covering her breast, to no avail. In another, the seductive Tiwa was bent in a sitting position, with mincing eyes inviting lustful men to prey on her vanity. All the three sultry pictures partially displaying Tiwa’s boob has attracted over a million likes as at date.
Tiwa, who has an international recording deal with Universal Music Group, an American global music corporation, is no short of controversy. Aside her private life debacle with failed marriage to music manager, TeeBillz or alleged romance with Starboy Wizkid, there has been a series of reports on her resisting competition from fellow female singers. But give it to Tiwa, she’s evidently not afraid of competition. To her, she is all about more female acts in the industry. The sultry singer doesn’t compare herself to others, but champions the idea of seeing more female artistes in the industry.
She once told Nigeria’s Vanguard newspaper, “Back in America, we have the likes of Beyonce, Nicky Minaj, Mariah Carey and other female acts standing tall. So why would there be just one person shining here? After all, here in Nigeria, we have male acts like Davido, Wizkid, M.I, Tuface and other big names at the same time. It’s not fair to have just one female act in the industry. So, I’m glad that more female acts are springing up. Having more female acts in the industry will open more doors.”