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Don‘t Box In FAVE

Armed with an inescapable hit in "Baby Riddim," the Nigerian singer refuses to be tied down by genre classifications.
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This article previously appeared on Audiomack World.

Emerging as one of the undisputed breakout stars from a post-lockdown 2021, Nigeria’s FAVE captured the attention of music lovers and tastemakers on a global level with her inescapable hit “Baby Riddim”— an earworm so wormy, it burrows into your brain after the first listen. “I didn’t really think it was going to be ‘the song’ from the jump, but we played it for a couple of people to test the waters and they just couldn’t shake it off. I didn’t need further convincing after that,” FAVE tells Audiomack World.

Now based in Lagos, FAVE grew up in the Southern part of Nigeria, with a childhood marked by gospel music and singing in choirs alongside her parents and siblings. She would fully unlock her distinct sound in her university years, recording songs and embarking on the arduous task of self-promotion as an independent artist. Unashamed about putting herself out there, FAVE’s persistence paid off when her singles “DAL,” “N.B.U,” and “Beautifully” gained mainstream attention in 2019 and 2020.

How do you top a hit with the magnitude of “Baby Riddim?” Cue Riddim 5, FAVE’s debut EP released in January. The project finds the “no genre” artist exploring the most delicate but complex emotion: love. Her vulnerability and romantic yearnings create an all-enveloping atmosphere, anchored by her vocals.

“I’ve discovered who I am as an artist and it’s simple—you cannot box me into one genre,” FAVE explains. “In making music over the years, it’s becoming increasingly clear that I want to keep experimenting with my sound. I’m interested in different genres and I need my fans to know that while they’ll never expect the beat or genre, my voice will always be distinct enough that they’ll know it’s me.”

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Your song “Baby Riddim” became an inescapable hit at the tail end of 2021. What was the creative process behind that song?

“Baby Riddim” was probably the hardest song for me to record because it took a lot of time to develop and I didn’t write it at a stretch. I remember Dami [producer] had sent over some beats, so I listened to the beat of what would become “Baby Riddim” and just started vibing to it. Words came at the time, and while I was able to write most of the song, I just couldn’t finish it. I played the bit I had for a friend who sort of told me I had to finish the song, but then again, I was scared of being rigid with it—I wanted it to come to me. A couple of weeks later, the chorus randomly came to me. I fixed a session with Dami and we recorded the song.

Recording the song was just half of the work involved. I had finished that process when I realized that we needed some more work on the beat and melodies. I don’t know much about production, but I like to be involved in the process as much as possible. We did this for about two months because we didn’t feel pressured to put the song out. It wasn’t until we were done that it hit us that “Baby Riddim” needed to be our next single.

As someone who’s just starting out in the industry, how does having such a massive record influence the way you view yourself as an artist.

It feels really good to do something and see the type of result I got with “Baby Riddim.”

It can be especially hard as an upcoming artist in Nigeria. I’ve had so many moments where I felt like maybe music wasn’t for me, and in a time where you can post your work online and get zero engagements, I wasn't expecting much with this song. The success that has trailed has pushed me to push myself further. It has also boosted my confidence enough to know that this music thing, I’m taking it global.

You were featured on two songs from Olamide’s 11th studio album, UY Scuti. How did this happen?

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I had participated in this viral freestyle challenge during the lockdown of 2020, and I don’t know how, but the next thing I knew, I woke up to a DM from Olamide telling me that I was “Killing it.”

He invited me to Lagos and after a couple of scheduling issues, we eventually ended up in the studio. I met him cooking up some songs and he asked if I wanted to hop on one. I laid down my vocals, but since we had so much free time left, he asked me to do another one.

Artists change the direction of their albums all the time, so I tried not to get too excited about the possibility. It wasn’t until I saw the album tracklist that I was like, “Yo, I have two songs on this record!” It was unbelievable.

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Let’s talk about your debut EP, Riddim 5. You have five songs on this record. Is this significant of anything in particular?

I figured I’d start with a small EP because I didn’t think I was in the position where it would’ve been wise to put out a lot of songs at once. I don’t feel like I’ve amassed a fan base that would listen to 10 or 15 songs. I want people to know me as an artist and identify my sound, but it has to be a gradual process.

Did “Baby Riddim” inspire the EP’s creation?

You would think so, but the songs on the EP had been recorded at different times, spread over the years. I never got to sit with a producer with the sole intention of recording for this project. I had recorded so much that when it was time to put out an EP, my team and I sat down and selected the songs that felt right. We didn’t want songs with the same tempo or emotion, so we were very intentional about the direction each song had. But as for recording new songs for the EP, I didn’t do that at all.

We get to see you explore different facets of love on this EP, which brings the question: Why is this a theme you like to explore in your work?

I love to write about love because it’s the sweetest thing to sing about. Even if you haven’t experienced love in a romantic way, there’s a high chance you’ve experienced it in another type of way. I don’t need to have a direct relationship with what I’m singing because I know friends who’ve experienced these things before. You sing about love, people listen and immediately relate to what you’re singing about.

Now that FAVE has stepped into the limelight, what does success look like to you?

Becoming a superstar, simple. I see artists like Adele and Drake as superstars, and that’s what I want. I want to sell out shows, have an unlimited budget to create all I want, and just tick things off my list. Being a superstar is what success looks like to me.

When you think of your artistic legacy, how would you want people to remember the name FAVE?

I want people to remember me as the artist who never disappointed or swayed. I don’t want them to say, “She was this, but then she changed.” I want them to know I used my talent well and stayed true to who I was from the start.

By Conrad Johnson-Omodiagbe for Audiomack

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