Savage. . . Sanguine sounds from Warri math Maverick
He sat relaxed, gazing into the thin air as he spoke. On his tee shirt lay the inscription ‘Confident’, neatly stretched across his chest. And for this 26-year-old, this was emblematic of something deeper than just the fashion; it has become the soundtrack for his entire life.
“My debut song wasn’t dubbed Confident, for nothing,” he teased. To many Essi Ogaga, professionally known as Savage, was the radical newcomer who emerged into the Nigerian music scene with a chart-topping single. But to those who are closer to the artiste, the Warri indigene is actually a math maverick who is heaven-bent on plotting a map to the top, using his soothing vocals, eclectic musical influences, and daredevil bravery as his coordinates. “I feel Confident in myself and my music. I just want to make my music and chill,” he smiled, softly.
After spending several years studying equations and formulas at the Delta State University, Savage eventually cracks the code for his own Utopia – a somewhat fictional fantasyland filled with love, youthful groove and carefree exuberance. And in the 10-track debut, it’s a downpour of diverse emotions that dote on these themes.
Within Savage’s Utopia, one is mesmerized by not actually the themes, which constantly inundate our playlists, but the sonic diversity of the entire record. Tapping emerging heavyweights such as Buju on Confident, Victony on Rosemary, Khaligraph Jones and Emtee on Hard, Jay Teazer on She Knows, Kojo Funds and Kida Kudz on Mana Gyalis, Alpha P on Buttons, among others, Savage creates a formidable line-up that dribbles monotony and mediocrity, to hit the goal of creating an outstanding soundpiece. Traversing Rap, Afro-pop, and Afro RnB, Utopia is laden with a stellar Afro-fusion that gives this record its roses.
“I believe my sound is chill and laid-back, with some feel-good energy. It’s something extroverts can dance to at parties, while the introverts can listen to when they want to relax and unwind. I have no control over how my music is perceived by people, but good music will always be good music,” he says. Savage’s progressive tilt towards the fanciest of sounds is his steady run towards the holy grail of evergreen music. And while only time can tell whether Utopia makes it to that grand party, Savage remains confident at it.
As a child, the young singer will wake up with the bestselling blues of the ‘90s sifting through his ears from his father’s record players, before becoming buttered with his mother’s African records while she drove him to school. And at school, like most young teenagers, all his school friends spent their break periods as artiste-wannabes. Ultimately, his life was a Vinyl-player that never stopped spinning with melodies and wide-eyed imagination.
“As kids we would always try to make music. We did it so much and that led us to forming a band called Team Nawty. Music is a part of me. My life had a lot of music in it. Even my grandmother loved music and was in the choir,” he grinned.
Away from the music, Savage is also a man of many parts. After graduating with his first degree in Mathematics, the stylish singer had started his own fashion business dubbed, Savage Space, which also peaked just last year, with a sold-out debut. While it might appear that Savage’s successes are only just coming full-circle, it is more accurate to describe them as the well-winnowed harvest of a rather patient and persistent creative mind. “I was not stressed or worried. I always believed in my craft and I knew I would blow up when the time was right,” he ruminates.
While it is quite a sight to see an emerging artiste release a follow-up album, right after his debut single, Savage explains that it is a ploy to pilot his evolution without any delays. “Relax? I don’t even think I can relax. I’m always busy writing music or trying to keep my business running. I don’t feel I’m at the stage of my life that I want to relax yet. For me it’s always work work work,” he says.
Perhaps, he draws his energetic spirit from the ancient town he grew up in which “made me strong because you had to be strong to survive in Warri and Asaba.” Nonetheless, he prides himself in being a lamp oiled by the generosity of others. “Growing up in those cities improved my intelligence, because the people there were more educated and smart and it’s only normal for you to get intelligent when you hang around intelligent people.”
While he currently remains a pride of the new school of artistes in the game, Savage says he is eager to work with top acts such as Wizkid, Burna Boy, Travis Scott (US), Don Toliver (US), among others.
And while he isn’t behind a microphone crafting his next fine trick, Savage claims to enjoy playing football, “making a dollar out of nothing”, and fashion styling.
With all the features of a promising act, Savage keeps only one dream: to be remembered for positivity and confidence. And it might already seem that the young singer is living his dream.