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A year ago, Simisola was born.  Debuting impressively on the Billboard charts, it went on to win Album of the Year at the Headies and not long ago, was revealed as the first album by a Nigerian to reach one million Boomplay streams. All these point to a fact: Simisola was a success.

However, how relevant is the album – removed from its earlier buzz – and how well does it succeed in its attempt to define what it means to love? The answer lies in revisiting the second body of work from the artist born Simisola Bolatito Ogunleye (her first was Ogaju, released independently in 2008).

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Simisola is a fifteen track album and five out of those are singles. From Tiff to Jamb Question to Love Don't Care, Smile For Me and Joromi, the songbird seemed to be building upon a limited scope of theme.  It is why Romeo and Juliet transcend the ages and times to leave readers shocked and tear filled. Simi's love however, doesn't induce pity. Her love is her knowledge of her power, as a woman with choices.

On Love Don't Care, she takes on the Nollywood theme of forbidden love and turns it into a ballad, her voice hitting notes where only the best of orators can reach. Smile For Me too, is defiance, Simi was asking a lover, ‘would you fight for me, even if na Hulk Hogan?’ That's the essence of Simi's love; she wants you to dare.



Recently, DJ Cuppy had the words to say: “I’m in a male-dominated industry. I deal with men on a day to day basis; they’re always going to think they’re better than women,” While her words apply to a question concerning feminism (she was asked if she could come out as one), one feels that this quote applies to many aspects of the industry. True, it is a male dominated one but better was a nonsensical adjective as Simi has gone on to prove, with the Simisola album (which should be regarded as a special achievement for any artiste) and still continues to prove; a break away from the archetypal female artiste. With the biggest female acts being blown up images for male gaze and lust, Simisola was a revolution from its first track to the last. With neither the usual ‘I'm grateful to God' opener and the ‘thank you, all my fans!’ end, the fifteen track album was a fresh meal, stripped of all sugary bits and fat.

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Beginning with Remind Me, a soulful stripped down piano backed song, she asks to be reminded how to love; even people that hated on her – don't be deceived however, these words will make you think Simi did that pose on this: folded palms and licked lips, Instagram caption: more life to my haters. NO. She takes an entirely different path.

On tracks like Aimasiko, One Kain, O Wa N'be and Hip Hop Hurray, she brings the groove with her, you're whatever and wherever she wants and sings you to be. In a song, you're in the buzz of the famed Yoruba craving for parties, in another, the music is so lively you can actually taste wedding rice, and sometimes, Simi has you grooving like sey you get holiday. Except on three songs, Oscar handles the production and he and Simi places you in a world so immersive that when you find yourself out of it, you're eager for a return, you're richer with more experiences, filled with more appreciation for life and people.



Over the past year, Simisola has subconsciously done what no other album has done in contemporary Nigerian music history: all of its songs are break away tracks and people are connecting with different moods and vibes. There's just something for you. You think you're alone in the world and who possible could be feeling haunted that an ex is returning? Try listening to Gone For Good. Or you're angry at a lover. Try Take Me Back; be cheered by Simi's fierceness or be persuaded by the serenading Adekunle Gold.

This album will stand the test of time. It will be mentioned as one of the better albums of its time and even though its creator never explicitly identifies as one throughout the fifteen songs, it will become an unofficial feminist manifesto and why, you ask? Listen, and tell us which other album – by a male or female act –  has been able to capture love in so many colors and setting. Tell us which song has been so self proclaimed like Original Baby; that the legendary 2baba just had to be on its deluxe version. Tell us which other female artiste has gone about her album in such a way that betrays only an astounding finesse and knowledge of the craft.

Simi is a force, but you know that already.

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