Tiwa Savage’s single “49-99” brought about mixed reactions from fans and critics alike. But that didn’t stop it from becoming an instant hit. In a matter of days, after its release on 5th September 2019, the video had amassed millions of views on YouTube.
But while many Nigerians are familiar with the phrase and where it originated from, the Afrobeat queen broke down the meaning to her fans in the diaspora.
In an interview with international music website Genius, Tiwa Savage explains each line in “49-99”. According to the singer, the title of the song references the line “49 sitting, 99 standing”. Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti coined the phrase in his 1978 hit, “Shuffering and Shmiling”.
The popular phrase refers to the hard life many Nigerians endure. The line references a transit bus, popularly known as molué, which serves as a case study. The bus, which originally sits a maximum of 49 passengers, often has twice that number (99 people). This is a direct reflection of the poor economic conditions predominant in the country.
She also reveals how popular indigenous rapper Olamide co-wrote the track. Furthermore, Pheelz produced the track. According to Savage, who tells fans that it’s really her surname, it took only 40 minutes for her to record the single. The first take she did was what went into production immediately.
“I would say most of it was already done before I got there. I had to add a little bit of myself into it and change a few things. Everything took an hour and a half, while recording took about forty minutes.”
Tiwa Savage points out that she is capable of balancing the different sides of her personality, both her celebrity status and her musical prowess. The former Mavin Records signee holds two degrees: one in Business and Accounting, and another in Jazz from the Berklee College of music.
She insists that she is not just a beautiful music goddess, but also a woman with brains, and this song is a reflection of that. Do you agree?