How Fela inspired Tiwa Savage’s new single “49-99”
Tiwa Savage has released the first single after her exit from Mavin Records. The song is titled “49-99”.
Tiwa whose music has been tilting towards Afrobeat in recent times, noted that the title was inspired by the legendary Afrobeat king, Fela Kuti.
During the listening party, she had a Q&A session during which she revealed what “49-99” means. According to her, ’49-99′ stands for ‘Forty nine, ninety-nine’ and not ‘Four thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine’ or ‘Four nine nine nine.’
Explaining the reasoning behind it, she says, “It’s a phrase that was coined by the godfather of Afro-beats, Fela Kuti. It means, ‘49 sitting, 99 standing.Suffering and smiling. For those who are not Nigerian, we have these transit buses which we call a ‘molue’ and it has 49 seats.
“So instead of it to have 49 people to commute to work and back, you have 49 people sitting and double that standing, hanging… That’s just a reflection of the economy and the imbalance with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. So the song, even when you first listen to it – it’s a great record (laughs) – it’s one you can zanku to and dance to.
“But I wanted something; I wanted my first global single to have a message that we are suffering and smiling and music is a powerful tool. And I wanted a title which could be a conversation starter like 49 people sitting and 99 people standing… like we’re suffering and smiling.”
— Abiolu Seun (@SHEWENZI) September 5, 2019
On how the song was made, Tiwa said she was in her room and got a call from Pheelz and Olamide who told her, “We created something and we think you should come and listen to it.”
On getting to the studio, she thought Olamide was trying to feature her on a song. But then, when she heard the beat, she thought, “A spaceship (lift off). So I said, ‘let me sit down .”