On The Fringe: SGaWD Is Ready To Pop Shit
Armed with brazen bars and sultry serenades, this siren is coming for it all and she's taking no prisoners.
Very few artists arrive as seasoned as SGaWD did when, barely into her twenties, she released “Like Me”, an intimate R&B number with frequent collaborator Jess ETA. On the sultry number, her silky croons are joined by warm drums and a subtle guitar melody as she repeatedly sings, “Who’s gonna love you like me?/ Who’s gonna touch you like me / Who’s gonna fuck you like me” on the hook, showcasing a measured singing ability and an alluring charm. While her sonorous and soulful contours stand out, you’ll be grossly mistaken if you think she is simply an average R&B sweetheart – she’s far from that.
If you have never come across SGaWD or her music before, a good place to start is her Instagram series with DJ Camron, “Siren Sessions”. Across two episodes, the Lagos-based rapper and singer displays a high level of musical skill, versatility and unbridled charisma. She raps with the assertiveness and swagger of the star act on a rap cypher, rapidly switching through cadences and flows while also laying melodic hooks over beats ranging from late 1980s dusty boom-bap to modern-day drill. “I think for me, I just put a piece of my soul into my music. Whatever it is, I put a piece of my soul into it. I would not give an Afrobeats record less effort because I am not quote and unquote an Afrobeats artist. If I hop on a record as a rapper, I’m hopping on a record as a rapper. If I’m hopping on a record as a singer, I’m hopping on a record as a singer. I’m hopping on a record to give you hooks and adlibs, that’s what I’m doing, and I get the job done, period. That’s how I am. I guess that’s why I seem so rounded,” she explains over a Google Meet conversation from her Lagos apartment one Sunday evening.
SGaWD, also known as Seddy, has lived most of her life as a nomad. “I’ve moved around a lot; I’ve lived on three different continents, and I’m only 22 years old,” she says, almost offhandedly. Till the age of 12, she lived in Ibeno, a small village located in Akwa Ibom State, the coastal south of Nigeria before moving to Abuja, the country’s capital, for high school and then Lagos shortly after. After her high school education, she moved again – this time across the Atlantic – to secure a university degree in England. After successfully bagging her first degree, she moved to Miami, where she secured a job as a paralegal, a second degree, and also started her music career.
Unknown to SGaWD at the time, she was soaking up influences from these various places she had lived in – which would ultimately come to shape her unique artistry. Growing up in Ibeno, she listened to a lot of her cultural music. She would also watch different music videos on MTV while listening to her dad’s vast CD collection. “My dad had all these CDs of Celine Dion, Ne-Yo, Destiny Childs, B.I.G, and all these cool people. My mum is really huge on country music, so I listened to a lot of country music through my mum and also stuff like gospel,” she says. Moving to England and then Miami would also have a significant impact on her music: “The way I talk, my diction in my music, my lyricism is really just my experience being in these different places. When I moved to Miami, I learnt Spanish, so I drop Spanish in my songs randomly. All my life, I’ve been speaking French, so I dropped that in my record with Suté. So it’s kind of like everywhere I’ve been has really shaped me musically and personally. My music is basically just a reflection of myself. I don’t talk off someone’s life or experiences. I don’t know how to do that.”
Before the Miami move, a music career seemed like a vision from an entirely different realm. While she had recorded an impromptu verse for a couple of friends years back, music was never really in her plans. “I had a verse on my friend’s song. They had a group at the time and they pushed me to record a verse and I just tried it for the fun of it,” she reminisces fondly. “I was initially supposed to just go to the studio with them and watch them record, take pictures and stuff but then I ended recording as well. The song is still up on SoundCloud, it is called “Stand Still” by GJCaesar and Junior Ishaya. I did the hook and also had a verse on the song.” On getting to Miami, she started taking music a little more seriously, recording and releasing covers of different songs that interested her. In 2018, her little brother introduced her to Jess ETA, an Abuja-based rapper and singer with who at the time, she was just casual friends. She would eventually start sending him some of her covers as time went on. One day she sent a remake of Dreamville’s “Got Me” that she had just made, and according to her: “Jess was like this is too good to just put out as a cover. So he stripped my vocals and made it into a song.” That song would go on to become “Like Me”, her first-ever original release. “From then, it became a thing where I enjoyed creating music and I kept just doing it.”
After releasing “Like Me” in early 2020, SGaWD did not take her foot off the gas. At this point, she had moved back to Nigeria looking to properly pursue her music career: “When I came, it was hard to get people to pay attention because here people have already built things, so when you’re coming, they expect you to come with stuff. At first, I took it really personally but then I realized I just had to put in the work just like when I was working out in Miami. I just put in the work, really.” She collaborated with many artists – including Somadina, Kiienka, Zilla Oaks, and Suté – in the months that followed, building hype one verse after the other. ”I’m a ‘teamwork makes the dreamwork person’,” she tells me. She also released her second single, “Feel Alright”, a laid-back record that saddles the best of her singing and rapping, further highlighting her incredible dynamism.
Her forthcoming single “POPSHIT”, and may arguably be her biggest – seeing the hype it’s already garnering – is simply about “talking about how we want to blow,” as she says, letting out a laugh. “I think the reason why I really love POPSHIT is cos we’re just hustling. Being in the space where we’re out here grinding and trying to be like make it and have our music out there. We were just like 'what can we make that’s going to be a banger?' And that was it.”
However, for SGawD, “POPSHIT” is just one of the first steps in taking over. She has lofty dreams and why not? Between delivering braggadocious, cut-throat bars on menacing beats and singing soulfully on carefully crafted tracks, SGaWD has proven to be the real deal. “There’s going to be so much exciting stuff,” she says, almost with child-like excitement. “There’s going to be music, visuals, [and] merch. I’m definitely going to be giving you guys an EP. I officially fuck with the music stuff now. Let’s gooooooo!”