Sean Tizzle: I’m Back To Cement My Legacy As A Hitmaker
The year 2013 came with a lot of era-defining hits for Afrobeats. With the Wizkids and Davido debuts, the scene was really more receptive to more niche variants of contemporary Afro pop at the time. It was a beehive of sounds that tasted like honey. And if one really got any attention then, it was a validation of your prowess, since the marketing push was a lot less easier than it currently is.
Among the libraries of songs released that time was a particular club banger dubbed, Sho Lee. The Sean Tizzle offering was not only iconic, but it spread wider than fake news across the country. With follow-up hits like Perfect Gentleman, Loke Loke, among others, it was easy to see why Tizzle was worth the acclaim he got. His hit-making prowess trademarked him as one to watch in the industry.
However, life comes at one pretty fast, and for these entertainers it really is no different. Prior to the pandemic-era, the young musician had already been finding it hard to maintain his momentum. Was it the sonic shift in the African musicscape that triggered this ‘sabbatical’? While Tizzle, born Morihanfe Oluwabamidele, was able to still drop music, albeit sparsely, it was clear that the musician was taking some time off from being an active player in the scene. With a litany of hits under his belt, including collaborations with Olamide, Davido, Tiwa Savage, among others, Tizzle’s legacy as one of Nigeria’s most exciting hitmakers is definitely one for the record books. Now, with a forthcoming comeback album dubbed, DUES, which is slated for a late summer release, and a lead single dubbed, Al Barakah, the 33-year-old musician is set to cement his legacy in the annals of Nigerian music.
In an exclusive chat with Guardian Music, the singer peels back memory lane on his hiatus from the music scene, his creative process, his experience with fatherhood, as well as why his forthcoming album might be the comeback everyone will be talking about.
It’s an interesting moment for you and for the music audience. How are you feeling right now?
I feel special; you know it is an amazing feeling. Like a lot of people have been waiting for this time, a lot of people have been wondering what has been happening to Sean Tizzle, like it has been a minute you know.
Why did we stop seeing Sean Tizzle in our faces?
Yeah it’s kind of crazy; I hear that like all the time. But for me, the thing is I just needed to step back. I was just working on myself basically because in life, you have to gain knowledge everyday. So, I was just unlearning some things and learning some new things, talking about everything because, they say “slow success builds character”, and fast success is just going to give you some ego and all that. So, it’s not just the working part and at the same time working on yourself as a person and that’s one thing I’m most excited about. The fact that you know I get better by the day and at the same time, putting in that work. And waiting for, you know, the right moment. The right moment sometimes isn’t just about that. You have to build up to it, even if it’s going to take time. Like they say, I’m all about hard work, dedication and patience. And the right time that I was talking about is like having the right people around you as well, the right mind, the right team as well and you know just basically wait for the right time.
For you to have taken a break, something must have been a catalyst?
Well, for me I would just say it’s life basically. You know just like life, it’s like you can’t always be linear. Road no straight you know, maybe for Naija everything na just straight road but in the proper sense you understand, everything is not straight. Because if e too straight, e no go make sense, the zigzag is the beauty of it. So regardless of whatever happened in the past, because I can’t even remember if anything happened basically. I was supposed to drop an album a couple of years back, then spoke to somebody, a painter actually. He painted a lot of works, and we were having this discussion when he said, “this is art.” So sometimes you have to take your time with it. Whenever I’m working with a producer the first thing I tell you is, you have to put your mind in this shit, because this is what you use to feed your family for the rest of your life. So you have to get better bread, and let’s do what we have to do. If we have to take our time and have a lot of this, you know songs to look into, and say okay we are good to go.
You were known for being a hit maker; was there pressure for you to improve your quality when you took your step back?
Basically not that I was totally off the scene because, in 2017, I dropped an EP; moving forward I dropped another one. They were all just built up till this moment; the whole learning process till this time because you can tell that with this comeback single how you guys are talking about it is on a different level. Like in terms of everything apart from the fact that it’s real, every word, every line and this record is like a fact you know. Yeah, you can tell that is just good music, all round good music.
What I’m deriving from you is at some point you needed to take your time?
To take my time honestly, I had to.
Is it something you can advise other musicians to do?
Omo na you get power. If e sure for you you go do wetin sure for you. You understand, but you can take a break and go like that for 10 years straight; it depends on what your plan is. You know I’m dropping an album soon; it’s coming out pretty soon and it’s going to be like Tizzle shey na wetin you don dey do since be this? That’s what I’m talking about. No be say you wan go dey form one thing on top wetin no be, everything na real talk as e happen. So when you listen to this project, you would say it’s personal. It’s like a million people around the world have gone through the same stuff, you understand.
When you were a bit quiet in the scene, were some of your peers reaching out to you to know what’s up?
Well, I no too really get so many friends like dat. Most of my friends are like my very few people. Omo we just dey see sometimes, we just dey see. Basically, most of them are just friends but not close.
Could it be a character thing, because you seem like a pretty chill guy?
Shey you see! However, everybody thinks, ‘this guy e dey form.’ But I just like to chill, you know! It’s so funny that I don’t even like it when you don too hail me sef. I just want make we just dey. So, sometimes because I’m laid back people think I’m trying to feel I’m some type of way. But if you become my person, me I dey talk o.
On the album, what are we expecting?
Well the album is titled, DUES. I have been promoting it for like a while now.
Are there any collaborations?
No, it’s just me on it. The word dues refers to an obligatory payment. So, because it’s an obligatory payment, it’s my thing; no features on it. Just like that, 12 songs by Sean Tizzle. It’s been a minute; so I have to serve you guys, like really serve. Even on the next project, I want to serve. I’m going to put a little feature on it, if that’s what people want. But on this one, it’s just me. We might have a feature probably on a deluxe, but I’m not sure.
How long have you been making this project?
It’s been a while. Basically, I just go to the studio and work everyday on a bunch of songs and, I don’t know, I just keep working. You could just pick a song from right now and be like this should work. The world doesn’t stop; it could be till like maybe you fit decide you wan put another song now but it doesn’t happen. Every song is like a tap. You get what I’m saying. Every work is like continued work.
So, how many years exactly?
Well I will say three to four years.
So what are the themes we are going to see on your record?
It’s just like real life. Real talk, like my life in general. Everything is just real. You know I haven’t seen my family in a minute because I had to focus on this whole project you know. I have not seen my daughter; I have missed so many of her birthdays. A lot of people thought that I was in the U.S., but basically I have been here in Nigeria working. I would love to see my family again. So maybe after the album drops and with success maybe I will be able to.
So, they can’t come down here?
No; because the mother works too and all that. So, it’s just a once in a while thing and she’s still pretty young you know.
Are you married?
Me I never marry o, I just get my pikin. I am co-parenting.
So, what is fatherhood like?
Yeah it’s quite interesting. Whenever I’m with my daughter she never leaves me alone; she’s always with me. She’s Madison or Ayomide. Those are her names. So yeah, I miss her though it’s been a minute. I barely even have time to spend with her because I have to actually do this. Maybe until the album drops then I get to spend a longer time with her.
So like how old is she?
So what’s your view on where the Afrobeats scene is going, and how are you trying to fit into that?
You know already, everybody knows what’s happening right now, even the blind sef know. You understand, like it’s visible. We are there because right now, Afrobeats is up there. I just want to shout out to everybody that has been holding it down.
People are actually killing it honestly. I don’t think anybody is making any bad song so far for me. Everybody is actually putting in his or her work around the world; because everybody is seeing you, you just have to actually put the work in and be true to yourself you know. That’s why I ask myself, ‘if you are still going to do this if you are not making anything from it?’ And the answer is yes. So, do what you want to do then and do it how you want to do it.
Tell us how you even delved into the music scene?
That was 2013. It’s been a minute; it’s been a while.
Was that when you decided to do music full time?
No, that was long before then, when I was still in secondary school; maybe early 2000s or something.
So did you go to college to study something else on the side?Studying something on the side? Yes! I was studying Theater Art at the University of Ibadan.
So, was it going to still be entertainment either way?
Yeah, but studying Theater Art wasn’t intentional. I wanted to go for Law or Political Science but I didn’t make the cut-off mark. So instead of staying at home, I saw this and e come wan be like wetin I dey do underground. So, I was like okay.
At that time, did your family know that you wanted to do music?
Yeah. It was a good thing. They were like you want to do that? Fine, but if you want to do that you still have to go to school. You know how they like to put out those stuff men.
What would you say are your biggest strengths in your artistry?
Well, you just tend to love your job regardless; to just put a song out and love your job. I just love my job. Sometimes, the recording process can be so smooth and we can just have an amazing time and it happens so fast. And sometimes, it might take a little bit more time, but it’s still fun.
And performance goes the same way. Sometimes you have a beautiful night and sometimes, you are like this isn’t the best night, but it’s still a good night. So, I just feel everything goes together. It’s artistry.
So that’s what we are to expect from the album, DUES, a melange of your experiences in life?
It’s the people. It’s for them to accept it with love. They should open their minds and just be willing to listen to some fresh songs. They should just enjoy it.