In recent years Nigeria has become a launchpad for some of the world’s most exciting talents. A cultural melting pot filled with rhythmic brilliance and dynamic melodies, the country birthed the likes of Tiwa Savage, Wiz Kid, and the African Giant himself Burna Boy. Hoping to join that roster of excellence is fast-rising afro-fusion artist Tolaní Otedola.
The daughter of billionaire businessman Femi Otedola, known for her effortless blending of R&B and Afropop sounds, the singer attributes many of the influences found in her music to her upbringing. “My home was always filled with music, Fela, Sade, etc” Tolaní explains, stating that despite this it was not until much later in life that she considered a career in music.
Instead, she pursued further education in the UK, exploring the live music circuit as part of a band, during which she was met with an amusing culture shock. “People calling older people by their names – that was shocking. In Nigeria, everyone is an aunty or uncle.”
Despite the obvious social differences, the singer remains adamant that where music is concerned the two places aren’t vastly different, “minus the structure in which artists are paid, it’s pretty much the same, super competitive and capital intensive.”
In fact, it was during this excursion that Tolani learned valuable lessons about the business that she carried forward into her own career. “Teamwork makes the dream work, even as a now solo artist, my team is my band.” she expounds, summarising the key to success in three simple statements:
Launching out into the deep with her debut single “Tenderoni,” featuring Skales in 2017 the Afropop artist has since performed at the 2018 Lagos Fashion and Design Week and Pepsi’s Rhythm Unplugged, as well as releasing several well-received tracks including “Maybe Baby” and new single “Badman”.
The infectious feel-good energy within Tolani music is evident, although her sound itself is admittedly a little harder to define. “It’s really a hard question for me because what I write usually influences how it should sound. I like to consider my voice as the major instrument in my sound and I hope that I have the flexibility to ride on any genre. If I am sent a beat and I write to it, it’s very possible that when I’m done, it’s likely to change.”
This makes the prospect of an imminent project all the more exciting. While Tolaní kept the details close to her chest she did allude to the idea of an emotional release. “I suppose we will all cry together and hopefully be free after.”