ALBUM: Simi – “TBH (To Be Honest)”

Nigerian singer-songwriter Simi’s evolution in the half-decade since she first captured mainstream imagination with Jamb Question has been impressive. Simisola, from 2017, combined pop bombast with technical virtuosity, 2019’s Omo Charlie Champagne, Vol. 1 was a stirring reflection on the shifting landscape of her life and experimental releases like 2020’s Restless II buffed her artistic credentials. On TBH (To Be Honest) — a project three years in the making—she contemplates love, gratitude and betrayal with a set of edgy songs that run the gamut of emotions.

“My ultimate goal is not just for the album to be loved,” Simi tells Apple Music. “It’s to create a project that makes me happy and that I want people to hear. I’m happy to be able to express myself exactly the way that I want.”

Indeed, Simi gives in to vivid expressionism here, gleefully calling out haters (No Joy), revisiting her origins (Story Story) and pondering the essence of life in tandem with husband Adekunle Gold (Balance).

Story Story
“This is a summary of my journey in music—the sacrifices I made and the things I’ve learned along the way, and just basically saying, ‘I worked really hard to be here.’ I remember when I first broke into the industry, a lot of people thought I came from nowhere, but this is me showing them that time and energy has gone into the career for where I am now.”

Born Again
“‘Born Again’ was produced by Blaise. This is talking about how I’m trying to be a better person, and me trying to learn more, just shedding bad energy, shedding the old, unnecessary stuff. As the name implies, ‘Born Again’ is being something not just different, but better. I’m asking for grace for the process as well.”

Naked Wire
“This was one of the last two songs that I wrote—and it came so easily. It was produced by P. Priime. I asked him to send me some beats, and this was the one that I connected to, so I just recorded on that one. He tried to add more stuff, but I told him no because I wanted it to just stay simple. That was the feel I was going for—I love how it’s so soft. It’s obviously a sensual song, but it’s still so subtle. It’s not crass to listen to. I just really like the way it makes me feel.”

Loyal (feat. Fave)
“‘Loyal’ is inspired by an experience that I had. I don’t have a lot of close friends, but my friends are really important to me, and I expect that for you to be in my circle, I can trust you. I had a situation with one of my friends where I felt pretty betrayed and let down, and I felt like it would be nice to put them in their place. I’m just talking about how I want to know if you’re loyal to me. I don’t settle for backhanded friendships. I loved Fave’s verse as well. It’s really calm, but it’s also so intense, and I really love how we just flow together on the beat.”

Balance (feat. Adekunle Gold)
“This is a feature with Adekunle, and his verse is on point, as is mine. One of the reasons why I like ‘Balance’ is that it’s a song about everything—not about anything specific, but it’s still saying so much. It’s talking about how life is so unpredictable. Sometimes the things you expect are not what you get, and sometimes you get something more than you expect. Nobody can really predict, so basically, just balance yourself.”

Logba Logba
“This is such a vibe. It has an Afrobeats plus highlife bounce to it, and I just love the way that song makes me feel because it’s so easy. It’s just so groovy, and it’s like a love song, but it’s not sappy. It’s playful. It was one of the first songs that I wrote on the album because I’d just given birth and I was just testing my pen game and I realised that it was still tight.”

Easy (feat. Deja)
“This is very similar to ‘Balance’, and also produced by Blaise. You can try and try, but in this life, there’s just a lot of happenings, and sometimes things don’t work, but just take it easy. Try to enjoy your life as much as you can in the space and the time that you have. Breathe, take time. Enjoy the process. Don’t obsess about the outcome.”

No Joy
“This song is dedicated to and inspired by haters. You know how people go on social media and say whatever they want to say because they can? We are often told to be the bigger person and not say anything which isn’t nice. But sometimes, if you can’t say something back, and you’re recording an album, why not do that? At that point, I was very angry about something that happened, and I took all that energy and anger I was feeling, and I made a song.”

Temper
“I really like ‘Temper’ because it was so interesting for me to write based on the style of writing: the bounce. It’s me bragging. It’s just me asking things and being out with it. Check my talent. Check my vibe. Just check me. It’s just a very chill, bragging, big-boy, big-girl song, and I really enjoyed writing it.”

Nobody
“This was the last song that I wrote on the album. It’s just a vibe. It’s basically saying, ‘This is me. I’m not a settler. If I’m doing something, I’m doing it because that’s exactly what I want to do.’ ‘Nobody’ is just saying I don’t settle for anybody, period. I don’t manage, and that’s on God.”

Love for Me
“‘Love for Me’ is dedicated to all Nigerians. We tend to be spiritual people, and this is a song just thanking God for my experiences and for my blessings and for everything and all the great things in my life and learning from all the mistakes and all the things that I similarly do not have. You can call it a gospel song. It’s also an ode to my old Simi fans. They’re going to love this song because it’s very in tune or aligned with my early music, but I loved doing this one. Another story about this song is that my mother-in-law was telling me that she thought I should do a song just thanking God for everything. She didn’t know I already had plans for that, but when I was moving this album around and everything, I might have removed this song if she didn’t say anything. Hearing her say that just solidified my decision to leave this song on the album.”

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