Tiwa Savage, the reigning queen of Afrobeats, is back with her first single since signing her deal with Motown Records/Universal Music Group, and without a doubt, she delivers. Following her feature on Beyoncé’s The Lion King: The Gift album and a slew of other features, she releases, “49-99” along with visuals. Produced by YBNL in-house producer Pheelz and co-written by Olamide, it ticks all the right boxes.
The beautiful songstress pays homage to Afrobeat innovator, Fela Kuti, all through the single and video even down to the title. “49-99” comes from the 1978 Fela Kuti album, Shuffering and Shmiling, which references 49 seats in a typical Nigerian public transit bus, Molue/Danfo, but Nigerians will pack at least 99 people extra in there standing. This is a metaphor for Nigeria as a whole. Nigeria has now become the poverty capital of the world and the income gap is definitely 49-99. With the rich being the 49 sitting down and the 99 being the poor left to stand up, trying to hustle to make ends meet. Rich get richer, poor get poorer.
There is so much symbolism in this video directed by renown director, Meji Alabi. Savage alludes to a popular photoshoot from 1972, featuring secondary school girls in Mbandaka, Congo with their blue uniforms. She wanted her first international single to really represent Africa and what it means to be African. Tiwa delved deeper into the various meanings behind the concepts in the video at her “49-99” London listening party. In the meantime, check out the striking visuals for “49-99” below!