Interviews

WurlD: The God Of Afro-fusion

Despite the underwhelming response by the consuming public to Wurld's genius,  he remains one of the most authentic music artists in the Nigerian music industry today. 

Wurld Interview
Wurld [PHOTO CREDIT: Instagram/@thisiswurld]

Popular Nigerian singing sensation Sadiq Onifade, who is best known as WurlD is perhaps best known for his 2019 collaborative body of work ‘I Love Girls With Trobul’ alongside highly revered music producer Sarz. The eight-track album was glossed with streaks of commercially successful hits such as ‘Focus’, ‘Sade’, and ‘Mad’, all of which cemented Wurld’s hit-making abilities and consequently led to his breakout in the mainstream. 

Wurld has since veered on to release several brilliant, albeit underappreciated, bodies of work like his 2020 seven-track collated ‘Afro Soul’ (accompanied later in the same year by an eight-track deluxe equivalent) and 2022’s ‘My WorLD With U’. 

The thing most people don’t get is that I didn’t take a break per se. I don’t think any real artist takes a break. Even when I am not releasing songs, I am working in the studio, you know.

WurlD, 2023.

Despite the underwhelming response by the consuming public to Wurld’s genius, he remains one of the most authentic music artists in the Nigerian music industry today.  WurlD’s catalogue showcases a diversity that pollinates from alternative soul to R&B and Afro-pop. He seamlessly navigates each genre or subgenre with the propensity and intentionality of a contemporary music virtuoso. 

The singer’s latest oeuvre, aptly titled ‘Don’t Get Used To It’, is his sixth musical project. Wurld tags the album as a public disclaimer aimed at fans of his music with a broader scope centred on life’s transient nature.

At the age of 36, it is safe to call the singer a seasoned music act who, rather than declining in quality, has maintained a sonic taste reminiscent of fine wine. With a career spanning more than a decade, WurlD has seen the highs and pitfalls of the entertainment industry, and he airs his opinions in this interview, where he talks about his reservations concerning new music industry practices, his overlooked legacy, and the creative framework behind his latest album, among other discussions.

An Average Joe

Arriving a few minutes ahead of the scheduled meeting with WurlD on a Wednesday afternoon, the singer promptly apologised for a slight delay in joining the call. Keen to make the most of the limited time, an inquiry about the artist’s day revealed a routine marked by the bustling agenda typical of a superstar. WurlD’s day unfolded seamlessly, transitioning from one activity to the next.

Subsequently, a light-hearted comment was met with a humble response, suggesting that the singer caught the playful remark.

A distinct beep on the singer’s end indicated that Wurld was interviewing from within a car. Over the call, his accent resonated with a refined quality, a detail that hadn’t been apparent until I probed into the reasons behind his hiatus from the music scene around 2021. “The thing most people don’t get is that I didn’t take a break per se. I don’t think any real artist takes a break. Even when I am not releasing songs, I am working in the studio, you know. So I wouldn’t say I took a break, rather I just wasn’t releasing new music at the time but I was constantly working, trust me,” he answered.

Specialising in R&B and Afro-pop, Wurld delves into adult themes in his musical style. However, in 2022, he contributed to the ‘African Lullabies Part 2’ album, showcasing a departure from his usual repertoire.

Within this well-curated collection, WurlD presented the serene track ‘Never Alone,’ a departure from his typical themes into a more child-friendly direction. The artistic experience of crafting this song differed significantly from his usual pop ballads, allowing him to reveal a side previously undisclosed to his audience. Engaging with ‘Never Alone,’ he embraced a newfound openness to his emotions, harmonising with the innocent vulnerability encapsulated in the song.

During the interview, I observed a remarkable aspect of WurlD’s personality: his friendly and approachable manner of responding to questions. The interaction felt akin to conversing with a friend genuinely interested in the dialogue rather than with a superstar of his stature. This unassuming quality became more evident as WurlD discussed his approach to overcoming creative blocks, emphasising the simplicity of engaging in “ordinary” activities such as cooking for family, taking a long jog, and immersing himself in literature.

Don’t Get Used to This

During our discussion, the singer confidently asserted to had penned over a million songs in the course of his career as a singer-songwriter. Although initially sounding like an exaggeration, the claim takes on a semblance of credibility when considering the artist’s history in the realm of ghostwriting.

Wurld’s musical odyssey spans a considerable period, and while he remains in awe of his accomplishments, he contends that the industry falls short in acknowledging his substantial musical contributions. Notably, he hints at being a source of inspiration for certain artists in terms of sonic direction, yet he receives little to no credit for this influence. He said, “I know most people wouldn’t care to admit it, but I know the amount of artists I have inspired in the game. I want to make something clear, I no longer care if I get the due credits anymore. It doesn’t get to me these days, even though it sometimes hurts when you know you have done the work deserving of recognition and people just act like your impact has been minimal. I have learned to let it go and accept the flowers from those who give it. It is one of the ways I maintain sanity in this crazy industry, otherwise, I would be mad and bitter for nothing”.

I know most people wouldn’t care to admit it, but I know the amount of artists I have inspired in the game. I want to make something clear, I no longer care if I get the due credits anymore.

WurlD, 2023.

WurlD stands out as one of the select musical talents fortunate enough to collaborate with two of Nigeria’s foremost musical production powerhouses—Sarz and Shizzi. His partnership with Shizzi yielded the 2016 classic ‘Show You Off,’ subsequently revisited in Wurld’s 2019 ‘Love Is Contagious’ album. In collaboration with Sarz, Wurld achieved commercial success with the joint album ‘I Love Girls With Trobul.’ When posed with the question of a favourite between the two and their respective roles in his sonic evolution, Wurld offered a diplomatically phrased response.

“I love both of them. Sincerely, It would be unfair to pick a favourite. Both of them are amazing creatives and have played major roles in my sonic formation over the years. They are both distinct, and dynamic in their music production, and with each comes a different experience”.

In the singer’s latest and sixth project, ‘Don’t Get Used To This,’ he once again collaborates with Sarz on one of the album’s lead singles, ‘Location.’ The captivating and delightful track serves as a testament to the seamless synergy between the two creatives. Wurld considers this collaboration to be the most demanding song on the project, acknowledging it as a composition that pushed him to his limits due to the intricate contributions of his collaborator. Despite the challenges, the result proved to be rewarding.

Regarding the album’s thematic direction, Wurld centres it on the recognition that nothing lasts forever. He emphasizes the inevitability of change and encourages his fans to embrace it. Wurld’s message extends beyond sonic transformations, touching on a more profound level of change.

“My latest album is about embracing changes. The thing with life is that once you get used to a pattern, life will systematically change its bearing. That is just life. I am equally telling my fans not to get used to this version of me as I am very much prone to bringing out something new from my bag of tricks,” he explained.

What’s Next For Wurld?

African music has reached unprecedented heights with the global celebration of homegrown genres like Afrobeats and Amapiano. This surge in popularity has not only opened doors to diverse commercial opportunities but has also led to a broad spectrum of music streaming, generating substantial revenue. However, with the positives come negatives.

At the end of the day, [streaming farm] is killing the overall music experience.

WurlD, 2023.

For artists like WurlD, who values authentic connections, the concept of streaming farms is repugnant. He disapproves of the current fraudulent practices employed by some music artists, labels, and distributors. This illicit business model involves utilizing a network of devices such as smartphones and laptops to generate artificial streams, undermining the integrity of organic streaming by genuine music listeners. Answering the question, he said, “At the end of the day, this practice is killing the overall music experience. And I feel a time will come when we will all look back and assess the damage being done, and we will be embarrassed by how low we resorted to”.

The singer also shared his perspective on the escalating performance fees set by Afrobeats artists in Nigeria, expressing a succinct stance by stating, “I prefer not to talk about these things. I believe everyone has the right to name the price at which they feel they ought to be valued”. 

Wurld envisions a collaboration with Nigerian superstar Rema, anticipating an epic sonic synergy between them. He admires Rema’s versatility and work ethic, emphasizing that his interest in collaborating with the ace singer is solely rooted in artistic exploration rather than ulterior motives.

Looking ahead, WurlD enthusiastically reveals that he is gearing up to release more music with a particular emphasis on content creation, signalling his creative direction in the near future.

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