History teaches that one of the ways to breaking down the negative walls of slavery, racism, bullying, marginalization and dismantling the status quo is by relationships, collaborations and creating a united front.
Sometime in 2018, American rapper Cardi B was at the center of a boiling conversation over her perceived hypocrisy towards supporting female rappers.
In her illustrious 11 years career that has seen her rise to become the leading female in the game, it was not until her fourth studio album, ”Queen” that she featured a female rapper in Foxy Brown on any of her projects.
Over the weekend on Twitter, Nigerians needed a distraction from the elections that were being held across the states of the Federation and award winning singer Tiwa Savage obligingly provided them with one.
Friday, March 8, 2019, was celebrated as International Women’s Day, a day set aside globally to recognize the contributions and achievements of women in the society.
Tiwa had taken to her Twitter page 48 hrs later to state that women are ”not respected or valued in this country at all” during a now rare interaction with her fans.
This sparked instant reactions and soon Tiwa was questioned for also not having shown enough support for female artists, an accusation she tried to dismiss stating that she had done collaborations with a number of female artists.
A quick fact check confirms this to be true, at least to an extent.
Tiwa has featured on notable songs with the likes of Waje [Onye], D’ija [The Way You Are] and a few more, but it is brow-raising that despite the success she has enjoyed over the years rising to become one of the biggest artists on the continent, Tiwa is yet to work with ANY female artist on her personal projects in her over nine years career.
In 2013, She released her debut effort, ”Once Upon A Time”, the 19-track album had guest features in the form of Don Jazzy, Iceberg Slim, Sarkodie, Leo Wonder, General Pype and Flavour Nabania.
Two years later, she put out the ”R.E.D” album, a 16 songs offering which had the likes of 2face, Busy Signal, Reekado Banks, D’Prince, and Don Jazzy.
Her third project, the ”Sugarcane” EP featured only one guest appearance in the person of Wizkid on the song, ‘Malo.’
While she has featured the majority of her Mavin family on her projects, it is interesting to see that not even her label mate D’ija has earned a spot on any of her albums.
Just so we clear, featuring a female artist [Or anybody for that matter] just for the sake of it is a wrong move especially if the artist is not bringing anything to the table.
Every collaboration must be mutually beneficial, either through tapping into their respective fan bases or riding on their platform for increased recognition and Tiwa owes it to no one really to decide who she collaborates with or not.
But attimes, collaborations have been born out of the need to make a statement and it further becomes hypocritical when on one hand, you complain of things not been fair and on the other hand, placed in a position of influence, you are doing next to nothing to actually force a change.
There are no two ways to spin this than to state that Tiwa Savage as one of the handful of female acts who has successfully and consistently broken the mainstream barriers in a male dominated industry has very rarely used her status to pull in enough support for other female artists.
On Wednesday, August 29, 2018, a video of a radio interview she had with Beat FM surfaced online where she vehemently denounced feminism, stating that she doesn’t agree that women should be submissive to men because they hold the place as the head of the home.
“I don’t believe men and women are equal. I don’t think that’s how God created us, especially in the household anyways.” she stated.
There can be no proper respect or value for women in the society if mindsets like this continue to thrive especially from people being looked upon as role models.
Feminism in the past few years has ensured that people who hold political offices have to consciously find a balance between the number of male and female appointees that make up their cabinet, same for workplaces and even industries.
With that same positive energy, running a fine tooth-comb through the music space, Tiwa has to understand that she has contributed very little in shifting the bias against woman in an industry where she operates.
The ”One Female at a time” mentality is real, the few ones who have successfully broken through the doors feel reluctant to show other women the path to take.
While re-hashing the women being undervalued stance may sound like an attractive and endearing buzz phrase that will swing emotions in her favour and thousand of Retweets, one begins to wonder if she actually believes her own words.
Lest we forget, there was also the case of the very unnecessary drama with another female act, believed to be, Yemi Alade, that helped the media’s narrative of pitting two successful women as rivals and her accessorized ‘Vixen’ role in Wizkid’s ‘Fever’ video that till date looks like a poorly conceived move that adds absolutely nothing to her own career or how women should be viewed.
It is a fact that female artists are not getting the respect they deserve, which is affecting the number of them that is still willing to put in the work, perhaps seeing these ladies pool together and collaborate more will work a trick.
When have we ever had the idea of a female collaboration project? It sounds like an aversion to even think of one. We have seen close knitted Womance between the likes of Omawumi and Waje, always pictured together at social events with images taking over their social media pages, but how many times have you seen them actually come together on a record?
Remember when 2face and Sound Sultan had this type of friendship? Even though the rumored joint project never surfaced at the end of the day, the duo had enough songs together that if compiled could actually make a body of work.
In 2017, Simi gave us the best album out of the country with the likes of Niniola also dominating headlines with her debut album, ”This Is Me.”
There are female artists out there who have their own successes to celebrate, Teni is breaking every stereotypical wall of how a woman coming into the industry must look or be judged, but how many other women have you seen openly and vocally celebrate her feats?
The industry may yet be far from a level playing field but it does recognize outstanding talent irrespective of gender while we should continue to acknowledge that there is still a long way to go in treating female artists with the same fairness and privileges as their male counterparts command.
One of the reasons why women aren’t making much progress in the industry is because they’re not getting seen or heard enough and one way of turning this around is by putting each other on to become that undisregardable force that they desire to be.
Men have already made life quite difficult for women, a little help from each other won’t be a bad idea at this point. While collaborations do not kill the evil of inequality in the room, it provides a partial solution.
Tiwa was right with her assertion on valuing women more, but the more curious case is that she herself has gradually become an acceptor of what the industry dictates only choosing to complain when it fits her narrative.
With her third studio album all but done, Tiwa has the opportunity to become the facilitator that the female awakening really needs by giving more women who are deserving of the spot, of which, there are plenty to mention, a chance on her album. That, for now, is enough for a start.