Inside The Colourful Wurld Of Afrobeats
With his velvety vocals and flattering lyricism, Sadiq Onifade, tends to become lost – and found – in a world of his own. To lose oneself in one’s art can be a great thing, but to find meaning and identity, simultaneously, within its corridors is a delicate balance that Onifade, professionally known as Wurld, wields as a musical superpower.
Since he stepped into the spotlight in 2015, with the RnB spinner, ‘Show You Off’, alongside Walshy Fire of Major Lazer and Shizzi, Wurld unlocked a new sonic style within Afrobeats that thrived for its psychedelia and soothing groove.
His follow up records, from his 2019 debut Love Is Contagious, to his blockbuster collaborative EP with Sarz dubbed, I Love Girls With Trobul. His drift over tempos from the Fuji-toned ‘Contagious’ to the pop-fusion of ‘Focus’, dazzled fans across Europe, North America and West Africa where most of his earliest listens sprung. It sparked a certain depth, one which has personified the 36-year-old across five compilation records including his just-released EP dubbed, Don’t Get Used To This.
Growing up in bustling climes like Mushin and Atlanta significantly quaked Wurld’s hunger for creative expression. Even after writing hooks for global superstars like Mario and Timbaland, the blue-haired singer continues searching for newer ways of expression. And with Don’t Get Used To This, the eight-track album, packing hits like the Sarz-produced ‘Location’, the futuristic RnB maestro exists in his own world devoid of any complacency.
Catching up with Guardian Music, the indie musician unfolds his creative inspirations behind his new EP, his artsy bromance with Sarz, birthing a new record company, being Nigeria’s biggest Game of Thrones fan, as well as his relentless pursuit of expression, among others.
Why did you title this EP, Don’t Get Used To This?
SO, this project is really centred on the idea of living the present moment to the fullest, in being present in the now, like nothing is promised tomorrow and also in the fact that you have to relive new experiences. You have to make new experiences, so everything becomes like a memory and you have to keep going. So, you can’t get used to the moment. You’ve got to live in it, knowing that you have given everything your all; because a day like this without even stretching it too much, today for example you know I gave everything my all, but I can’t get used to this moment and all, everything that comes with it; because tomorrow everything changes, we have to rebuild again.
Can you tell us what you have been up to since your last project?
I was going through a lot of transition, and more importantly I have been taking care of my mind, that is, my mental space. I have been recording a lot and working with a lot of producers. I started a new label called Additive Content and this content is the first release of the imprint. But in the near-future, people are going to start seeing and hearing my collaborations with new artiste, new producers and stuff like that. So, it’s just me rebuilding you know and those things take time to transition and feel right to begin. It was all about the music; people were like where have you been? I have just been taking care of everything around me and myself.
Right now musically, where do you think your headspace is at?
I’m in an amazing space, and I’m still experimenting and trying new things. The new project was very intentional for me; musically, I think I’m more intentional than ever musically. It’s not about just creating great music, it’s about creating great music and creating it even more in space that people can enjoy. It is different. I’m even more intentional with the type of song I give people depending on the time space they were in. I feel like in the past, I have been way to progressive at times where I feel like people will have to catch up, but they need time to digest. So, I feel like this time around is really being present in the now as well as still being progressive, that’s one thing that has changed with me. I have a lot of projects coming up in the near future. I have an electronic and dance project coming up. I’m excited about that because it shows a whole different side of me, it really is about evolving for me everyday.
Why do you feel like putting out more solo records than collaborations?
I was supposed to release a collaboration project. And I spent a lot of time working on that, but the timing of that didn’t just work out. And looking at some of those collaborations that I spent a lot of time doing, some of those collaborations relationship-wise did not really plan out well, to where we can get to a space to release the music. I don’t want to create another long solo project. It’s simply because I’m making room for the collaborations to come. So, this project is really me putting a stamp on everything that I am a songwriter, as well a producer. And really as somebody that has contributed sonically in a very significant way, in a whole system of the Afrobeats to the world movement. And I just feel like this project is me just owning my space, I think like people might start feeling a lot more those collaborations that I have done behind the scenes in the months to come.
You have this very brilliant chemistry with Sarz himself. What makes you more comfortable working with him?
Whenever me and Sarz create music, it has always been magic. I’m a believer of that because we have done it too many times, and we have done it many times and even though people have not heard the new stuff. ‘Location’ is just one of many, and I only worked with Sarz on one song on this project. I felt like I have been blessed to start working with some amazing producers, and I have created some of my best music with them. So, I just felt like it is important to shine light on the other producers as well in this project.
What is your typical creative process like?
I’m a soloist when it comes to recording and creating music. I record myself and I write my own music, so I like a quiet space. My space is a quiet place, it’s just me and the tools, the mic, the computer, the interface, the software, everything. So, for me I love creating in the most free space with no noise. The quieter it is the better for me because I’m only focusing on my own thoughts; I’m not distracted by anything. I’m constantly trying to find new melodies, new conversations because my DNA – by default – is opposite of what everyone else is making, and still being true to myself. So, when you are constantly trying to create a new song, every song is an experiment, every song is finding a way to do things. So, it becomes a focused space that is not noisy. I don’t like noisy spaces. In a nutshell, that is what my process is like.
Do you have any favourite song from the EP?
My favourite song changes over time. I would say ‘Do It’ at this moment.
Is there any particular story to that song?
Every song in this project is very intentional to me. I have absorbed a situation and I have felt like it was important to put that in the most loving way out there. The situation is so absurd that we as human beings make excuses when we don’t want to do things. However, when you find the right person to do that thing for you, they would do it without question.
In this era of Afrobeats-to-the-world, what does this new era usher in for you and how do you feel about it?
I think it’s beautiful. It has shown progress. It has shown that something is working. It has shown the crazy visions and ideas coming to life, and it’s given people hope to even dream wilder. Because everything just started from somewhere, and it’s going somewhere we can’t even control anymore. I think it’s beautiful to see, because this is still the beginning, it gets better, that’s my idea.
So, what’s next for Wurld?
It is touring for me. I feel like it’s just going to create a big experience on my next tour. I’m actually going to tour after this project, not just this project but to bring my journey musically to the stage, with a live audience. Potentially, there might be an experiential show for my fans in Lagos. It’s going to be exclusive but it’s going to be an experiential show with just a few people. There is something special I’m trying to relieve, express and present and I’m working towards that as well. But as for touring, my goal is to get closer to the fence, as far and wide as I can get. I think it’s time for that next phase.
Overall, what are you trying to achieve with your artistry?
At this stage I just want to continue in my journey by aligning with experimental things, and just creating music for myself. I’m working with new artistes to create a project through my new imprint.
Finally, tell us three fun facts about Wurld.
I’m a great cook. I think I make the best spaghetti sauce. Also, I actually record all my music by myself. And the last one is that my best show ever on earth is Game of Thrones.
Get the latest news delivered straight to your inbox every day of the week. Stay informed with the Guardian’s leading coverage of Nigerian and world news, business, technology and sports.