We were instantly blown away when we first came across Omawumi’s controversial song “If You Ask Me” that was posted on the LastPlaneToLagos blog at the beginning of the year. Nobody has sang this soulfully in Nigerian Pidgin English since Fela Kuti featured his then African-American girlfriend Sandra Isidore on the incendiary afrobeat dance-floor anthem “Upside Down”. There is no denying that Wumi is a talented vocalist but what really sets her apart is her ability to effortlessly inject the language of the streets into her musical pastiche of soul, reggae, hip-hop and R&B (produced by Cobhams, the same man that brought us Asa). Surprisingly, reaction to her use of pidgin-English has not all been positive. Some have dismissed it as crass and unrefined while others consider it to be a crutch with regards to breaking into the international market. We at SUPAFRIK can only hope that Omawumi rises above any attempts to pigeon-hole her and continues blessing us with her own take on authentic afro-soul. Listen to her latest roots-reggae tinged single, “I Go Go” here and click play:
p.s. If you know any of the other soul singers using Pidgin English in their music, please let us know in the comment section.