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The story behind “To Be Honest”: A track-by-track interview with Simi

Simi’s consistency and imaginative approach to genre has rewarded her with being a stalwart in the Nigerian music scene. Earning her stripes as a Gospel singer and dancer during her youth, she released her debut album ‘Ogaju’ in 2008 before gaining global attention from 2014 hit single ‘Tiff’.

Her talents have made her multi-faceted in other creative fields, acting in the Nigerian comedy-drama ‘Mokalik’ in 2019 and engineered her husband, Adekule Gold’s debut studio album Gold. To Be Honest is her fourth studio album and in an interview with Gen B, we spoke to the Nigerian singer-songwriter about the process of each song.

 

Gen B: What made you consider having Story Story as the opener? 

Simi: I was certain that a story about my journey so far in the industry would be a perfect intro for a project that I decided to call it To Be Honest.

 

You say in an interview, To Be Honest is your most daring album, ‘Born Again’ sounds like a proclamation of change, what drove you to probe into vulnerability for your album? 

As an artist, the stories you want to tell keep changing. For me anyway, my music is almost always a reflection of my mind state at the time. I wanted people to see a less edited version of me. I’ve always been pretty honest about things, but now I’m even more so. ‘Born Again’ is about finding the best version of myself and striving to be that person. I almost took out that song, but instead, I chose to have the producer make a different beat for it and it was perfect.

 

“Naked Wire” has a lead single element to it but there’s a serenity to it as well, what was the driving force to making it the lead single?

When I submitted my album, I hadn’t even decided what I wanted the first single to be. All I had said before then was I didn’t want any outside input. I wanted it to be all me – so I didn’t care much what single we would go with. The team suggested Naked Wire and I said okay. I think it worked because it’s probably the most perfect blend of my original sound and the direction I’m moving right now. 

 

I really dig Fave’s feature on “Loyal”. How did that feature happen? 

It was pretty last minute, because the song went through fire lol. It was an entirely different song to start, with a different feature, but I changed the beat and my verse because I just didn’t want that energy attached to the song. I was so stressed out. I was going to do it alone at one point, but I really wanted a feature and so when Fave’s name came up – I was excited. She came through for me and it was so amazing. She made all that trouble so worth it. 

 

You made “Balance” with your husband Adekunle Gold. What was the collaboration process like for you? 

– My husband is a phenomenal artist. At first, I was worried how people would take it because we only ever do love songs. But he was like, “dont worry baby, I got you.” And he did. 

 

 

“Logbaa Logba” feels stripped-down and more intimate, like Mr. Eazi’s music, what made you try out that approach?

I see Logba Logba as probably the most viby on the album. It’s gentle but it’s also very groovy. I loved writing it because it’s so playful and bouncy. 

 

“Easy Easy” has a feel-good vibe but always contains lyrics like “If we run out of alcohol, then we drink water” Is it resonating with your life right now? (Being a mother, successful singer and wife?) 

You know, it just might be. I’m just so aware of life now. You can’t control everything. You make the most of what you have. Enjoy life. Be content. Be happy. Take it easy. I think it’s resonating with my life right now surely. 

 

“No Joy” is considerably more sober and flinching after “Easy Easy”, was this transition intentional, you know, the yin-to-the yang of “Easy Easy”?

 I actually wrote No Joy before I wrote Easy. I was mad when I wrote it. You can probably tell. I’m very in your face, because that’s how I felt and that’s what I wanted people to see when they heard the song. 

 

“Temper” returns back to the chest-puffing energy of Afropop, how did you curate the album to go from introspective to confident? 

I’m generally not much of a bragging babe. However, I’m very underrated. It’s probably because I’m very real. I’m not show-bizzy. I don’t want to be. But on Temper, all I wanted to do was show off. Like I’m exactly who I think I am. And I am. 

 

What made you put “Nobody” as the penultimate track in the album?

Nobody was the last song I wrote for the album. I remember when I was almost done with the album, I realised I barely had love songs, if any. So I wrote Naked wire and Nobody. Nobody is talking about how I don’t settle for things or people. You either deserve to be here or you don’t. I think that this is important for a healthy self esteem – so it’s how I live my life. It’s not like a usual love song, but it is a perspective on love and I wanted to stay in character and be honest about it. 

 

“Love for Me” is a swooning Gospel closer about your love for the people close to you. What made you put it as the closing track? 

It talks about how grateful I am to God for everything. I thought it would be a beautiful closing to a beautiful album.

 

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