Sorry Tiwa Savage! Fader Magazine Calls Yemi Alade 'Queen of Afrobeats' • And She Doesn't Care If You HATE Her
Scroll down to peep photos and excerpts from Yemi Alade's interview with US magazine, Fader.
You're probably the most successful female afrobeats artist out there now. Do you think it's harder to break through as a woman?
We have to toil 10 times harder. Many times I have been at events with guys who I have bigger songs [than], but just because he's a guy he's given preferential treatment. It's not the guys' fault. It's just the way the world has been wired; females are mostly placed as second place. We're seen more as gracious and calm than strong and powerful, so we have to rise above sexual harassment, financial constraints, culture, even rise above nature sometimes — that monthly visitor! [laughs] But I wear my game face when it's time for business. And I don't go alone — I go with a team that knows what they're doing. When I show up, you're going to understand that power just walked in.
But I don't try to please anybody. I don't try to make it like, Oh I want to do this so you can like me. Not everyone loves mangos, but I think mangos are amazing. Not everybody likes peaches but I think peaches are amazing as well. I'm just myself.
Throughout your career you’ve recorded songs in different languages, like French or Swahili. Is that reflective of a desire to reach your fans in those markets?
Definitely. I'm a lover of languages, and sometimes I'm even a lover of accents. The French version of “Johnny” was for fun, but for “Kissing” there was more of a goal — I wanted it to mean more to my listeners. If I sing one of my songs in your language, you can totally own it. My dad is Yoruba and my mom is Igbo, so those two languages are kind of in my pocket. I speak English — something we call vernacular pidgin English — but when it comes to international languages I'm stuck on French right now. I'm working on Swahili and hopefully at some point I might learn Portuguese.
Has being half Yoruba and half Igbo helped you access different cultures?
I couldn't have put it better. Tribe is a very strong factor in Nigeria, and coming from two major tribes is a big plus for me. Personally, it's helped me embrace both cultures, and you can see through the fact that it's all just one culture. Just some different names attached to it and different languages.
When you see Nigerian artists like Davido and Wizkid breaking through to the Western hip-hop scene, does that give you ambitions to do the same?
It's a huge inspiration for me, and I'm very grateful to be born in this generation where such a thing is happening. If you look closely you can see that these guys did this without actually changing who they are. They didn't have to try to be someone else. I'm very proud of them.
As someone who doesn’t come from the wealthy background of, say, Davido, has it been harder for you to reach your goals?
Oooh, have I had to hustle more? There is a very big difference between Yemi Alade and Davido. You could call Davido the child of a moneyman. I am clearly not. Our backgrounds are very different and definitely our expenses will differ. He might be looking at getting the most expensive car in the world, while I might get a fly car that can just get me somewhere.
Before he passed away, my father got a bowl of beans with different sizes. “Look at it,” he said. And you see very big ones and very tiny ones. And then he shook it and shook it and said, “What do you see now?” It was only the small ones on top. So, he taught me that something can emerge from nothing. I hold onto that.
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