Through a sound heavily inspired by fuji and afrojuju, while still honouring present
WurlD themes of afrobeats and electronic music, Nigerian-born musician, WurlD, is conveying
a message of love that emits pride in its vulnerability and tenderness. The singer, born
Sadiq Onifade, is just as warm and gentle as the music he creates. I had the opportunity
to speak to him about identity, his music and – what seems to have become a theme for me lately – aliens (Sonia Irabor)
It seems as though anyone who began making music in the past five years has been lumped into the ‘alte’ tribe. Do you see that as restrictive or empowering to be to be put in that circle?
I think it’s the start of something new. It’s something evolving and I feel that the ‘alternative’ sound is quite beautiful. A lot of people are now open to new sounds from Nigerian artists and it is commendable. With time, there’s going to be a more diverse audience who appreciate good music. It feels great to be a part of something
that has a future.
Let’s talk about the true nature of creating. I feel that mainstream music still relies heavily on sound more than lyrics. What keeps you rooted in that need to create music with more substance?
I’m a human first and I feel I have a lot to talk about. My aim is to inspire people with my music through knowledge and observation of society. The depth comes from the communication I want to pass across, like helping someone get over a bad day. Using my feelings to create that and reconnect with people.
What’s the most important song you have created? Its unreleased, unless you want to talk about the released one. The released one; I would say is Mothers Prayer. Why is that the most important?
It’s a song about the journey of life and I feel like it’s the most complete song that I’ve put out as far as
what it talks about. It’s the most human song that I’ve ever created. The unreleased [song] is called National
Anthem. It’s [an] empowering conversation. It’s a song that I want to wake up to and sing before stepping out of the house and feel empowered to do anything. It’s also very African.
Would you rank these three for me in terms of feeling, from most to least; writing, recording and performing?
Writing, performing and recording. So what is it about the writing process that makes you feel the most?
I am the truest version of myself when I write as far as pouring my heart out or creating conversations
that would live forever; it is the deepest for me. I love the idea of [being] evergreen so I try not to be so worried about sketching down something that six months or a year after has gone obsolete. Performing is the aftermath
of my writing; these are moments I hope to create with people and my audience that would live forever. Recording is when I feel that I have written those evergreen moments and have performed them.
As a Nigerian, do you think that culture and identity mean more to you because you’ve spent years away from ‘home’ and do you think that influence on your music exists in the form that it does because you have spent time away from here?
I consider myself lucky to have had a fair bit of both sides. I’m an African first; I was born in Nigeria, did my high school in Nigeria before going off to the States for college. So I have that “Africanness” in me, I never lost it. The values are still ingrained in me and it is an influence on the way I work and focus. Those values are everything that has shaped who I am today.
If you had to present aliens with the best piece of music on earth. What song would you choose and why? I’d choose a combination of Afrobeats, like Fuji music.
I feel Africa has these sounds that are very spiritual. It evokes a certain feeling that is so spiritual it takes you places. These sounds are a natural high for me, they could get you high and intoxicated and bring in a certain level of spirituality. So I’d love to take the aliens back to the ancestry and depth and I feel like African music would evoke that feeling .
Was that how you felt when you first heard those sounds?
Absolutely and it shows in some of the music that I’ve put out in recent years. The choices that I’ve made have been very specific. I create with purpose and with intent. My aim is to share music with the rest of the world, using African sounds to create a conversation that is universal. I also found out that that is where the power is in creating conversations, not just for Nigeria. The essence of the sound is African.
I think that influence is starting to show in terms of how the rest of the world is now responding to Afrobeats. Why do you think that is happening now so much as opposed to several years ago when different people tried to push Africa to the world? I think it’s timing. Personally I think it is just the introduction. The world has
not seen 99.999% of what Africa has to offer. We have so much to offer from Nigeria to Ghana and South Africa. It’s a long journey. Some great things happened before their time but the best impact happens when great things happen and people find great value at the right time.
When you look back on your life, what would you want to be able to say you did well?
Give back. To be a part of something that changed many lives, be it through charity or my work or loved ones. Just knowing that I created something that would live far beyond my physical existence.
Follow WurlD on social media: @thisisWurlD