As a non-professional blogger, I have no need for caution when it comes to being biased towards the music I publish and their creators. However, I declare affirmation that my selections are not in the least influenced by this fact. That said, I have been a long time fan of Tay’s music since my first listen of Gabriel which features his own brother Suté and The Box back in 2013.
Tay Iwar is an eccentric character as I have come to learn. While not being the extrovert you’d readily imagine, he’s quite the confident expressionist. Making sure his listeners are properly tuned in, Tay has the ability to bring his most intricate thoughts into apprehension; either by being patient enough to explain in detail, or showing you exactly what he means. Being said, I find myself guilty of neglecting the person that sits so differently from the music he makes.
The then 17-year-old took a large portion of the music sphere by shock when he released Spiritual, from his Passport mixtape which included The Box; the track would go on to inspire a refix from the well-renowned rapper, Chocolate City’s MI Abaga featuring label mates Pryse & C.Kay. The project was released on Soundcloud and despite being under promoted and performing poorly, it would then pick up with very positive reviews from a number of prominent blogs, critics, and his newly acquired fans.
He subsequently released a series of singles and covers such as Cleo, Elysium and Zion Wolf while his debut album Renascentia was in the works. In a recent interview with Lucid Lemons, he addresses his consciousness and vision to create music that goes beyond the present.
Coming a long way from just a 7-year-old kid playing the piano while attending the Muson School of Music. At age 10, Tay considered becoming a lawyer. However, at 13 he began playing the guitar and soon realized a career in music was. At 15, he was writing songs and developing ideas with a guitar his father got him. In the ninth grade, Tay was introduced to fruity loops production software by a classmate, he subsequently spent most of his senior high school learning his way around recording and music production before leaving Nigeria to study Audio Engineering.
Tay’s journey to realizing fame can be said to have begun when he first laid his thoughts, emotions, desires, and vision down through songs and we heard his amazing vocals. I believe this means of expression opened a psychedelic-phonography of his artistry, not just as a musician but also as one of our most poetic figures in Nigerian music. I say this because he is quite famous for his incredible sound production, but his vocal and lyrical proficiency have time and time again proven to be beyond exceptional. This has been and still is an amazing revelation to both the singer and his listeners for the span of his discography. He might beg to differ though;
I love both equally, but if I was forced to choose, I would say production, voices can go, but as long as hands can move, production can be done. – Tay Iwar
Tay’s music narrates a series of realistic intuitions crafted by life experiences that just about every growing human can relate to. From acknowledging light and darkness to understanding love, lust, passion and hatred, to losing grip of your innocence, and wanting to find your place in this really complex jig-saw puzzle called life. I often like to think we would have a different Tay if he was based in Lagos though, but that’s just my mind messing around. Even though it’s no discovery that our environment can affect core personalities as well as define character, a Lagos-based Tay wouldn’t be as smooth as the Abuja-based Tay. Disagree? I don’t see why not.
While he may come off as generally unacceptable for his inability to sing in and out of our native languages, Tay’s compositional complexity would still connect with lovers of the mainstream afro sound as his versatility reflects a similarity with the likes of local sounds such as Wizkid or Banky W, and foreign sounds such as Chris Brown or The Weeknd.
I make music for the lost seeking light, the curious minds questioning all, the heartbroken and rejected, I make music for dreamers, lovers, peacemakers, the confined seeking acceptance the wall breakers and creatives…I want to let them know they are not alone. – Tay Iwar, interview with Lucid Lemons
You may be unaware or in denial, but the truth about Nigeria’s neo-cultural generation is that they fit into this raw description Tay refers to as his audience. The 80s hip-hop, 90s blues or millennial pop, the afro-beat or afro-fusion, they all play a part in his musical journey of self-discovery.
Furthermore, it may or may not come as an incredulity, but to those unaware, his genius happens to precede his music. And with that, he has taken responsibility for shaping the neo-African culture through unconventional creativity, and his contributions have been more than ordinary. A few things Tay has been actively involved in are as follows:
Bantu is co-founded by Tay, his siblings, and friends as a movement, corporate agency and media house with subsidiaries that reflect its core values in promoting neo-cultural Africa. Through these outlets, they are able to offer professional creative services ranging from art and music creation, photography and co-creative workspace.
All that said, you are right to expect a whole lot from Tay in 2018. New ideas, new sounds, new art!