Siren Season is upon us!
While Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar isn’t exactly famous for witty one-liners and Instagram-worthy catchphrases, Damn., his 2017 Grammy award-winning album is fairly packed with famed quotables. The album’s lead single “HUMBLE” had everyone screaming “Sit down! Be Humble” at the top of their voices, either to have the last word in a heated squabble or simply to deflate someone’s ego. “DNA” also had everyone firmly claiming: “I got loyalty and royalty inside my DNA,” like the recital of a daily confessional. Perhaps the most memorable lines from the album are from the hook for the sleeper hit “ELEMENT”: “if I gotta slap a pussy-ass nigga, I’ma make it look sexy / If I gotta go hard on a bitch, I’ma make it look sexy / I pull up, hop out, air out, made it look sexy”.
When SGaWD – a 24-year-old Lagos-based rapper and singer – speaks, I’m immediately reminded of those lines. She’s seated just across me, dressed in a loose Balenciaga T-shirt and black leggings, with a pink Teflar bag completing her simple but elegant look in a private listening for Savage Bitch Juice, her forthcoming debut project. Before we get into the music, she vividly narrates how young Seddy – a paralegal in Miami, who led a reasonably comfortable life – became SGaWD, a highly-skilled rapper and singer in the city of Lagos, who had to combine jobs to float a music career. She’s the hustler’s hustler – enduring frustrating and unsupportive parents, weaving through industry shenanigans while also trying to get her music out there – but she manages to stay unfettered and alluring through it all. This incredible resolve is what inspired the project title Savage Bitch Juice.
“When people hear Savage they think wicked or terrible. But when I hear the word Savage, I think growth, I think courage. It took me a lot of courage to leave a comfortable environment to try something out of the norm, to tell my parents I’m not the daughter that they always envisioned in their head, to move to Lagos. When I think about myself and my life, I think ‘yeah, I’m definitely Savage.’”
We finally hit play on the music and it’s the aural equivalent of SGaWD herself: it’s conscious, confident, sexy, diverse and much more. She blithely sidesteps trends, dishing out her own form of unique sounds. “I pride myself in being original,” she says, confirming what’s evident in the music. “Woogy (Tugboat)”, an incredibly melodic number, finely blends trap and psychedelic music. It’s soothing and tranquil .“It was inspired by a drug (molly) epidemic earlier in the year” she says, speaking about the song’s inspiration. “Are You Dumb (WMF)”, a track that came together about four years ago is dark, confrontational and heavily bass-driven. It’s the kind of music that you hear in the clubs.
These two tracks serve to highlight Seddy’s range. She sounds at home both on 90’s boom-bap beats and contemporary hip-hop beats. She's also the kind of artist to murk you in a cypher and serenade you much later. However, on Savage Bitch Juice she favors her rapping side a little more because, according to her: “that’s my preferred mode of expression at the moment.” Her flows are crisp and dynamic, her lyrics laced with sharp and raunchy lines. She’s unafraid to express herself, in whatever manner she pleases. She’s assertive about her sexual desires, firmly controlling the narrative and in turn challenging the historical dynamic and framework of sex which mostly favors men.
Sexual frameworks are not the only thing she challenges. On “Rude (Ah Ah)”, she uses her razor-sharp bars and flows to dismantle certain expectations that society has of her. She’s not willing to conform to stereotypes; instead, she’s carving her own path and living life on her own terms.
The project only features two extremely gifted ladies – Princess Mami and Somadina, a very conscious decision. For SGaWD, it was important to share some of her current spotlight with other female acts. “When I was coming up, it was hard for me to get features,'' she says, slightly reminiscing. As such, she fully understands the struggle for female acts to get placements and opportunities in a male-dominated industry. These two, however, aren’t just featured as fillers; they equally deliver memorable verses, nicely fitting in like pieces of a whole puzzle.
SGaWD is feeling a range of emotions. Her project is out soon, and she’s feeling anxious, happy, sad and almost everything in between. More importantly, she’s also confident and it’s super evident in the music. She’s taken her time, gradually finding her feet and making music that reflects everything she currently stands for. It’s been a long journey to this point – one that has been plagued with roadblocks and frustrating bumps – but she’s finally arrived, and she’s ready to give everyone a taste of some Savage Bitch Juice.
Savage Bitch Juice will be out on November 3rd.
Featured Image credit: Demola Mako