Nigerian producer SARZ talks about producing for Wizkid and the global reach of afropop.

Sarz Speaks on Producing for Wizkid and Afropop’s Global Reach

When the recent Wizkid and Drake collab “Come Closer” dropped back in March, the whole world was watching. This was their first time working together since “One Dance,” a tune heavily indebted to Afrobeats; that omnivorous West African genre that incorporates sounds like azonoto, dancehall, rap, and the original Afrobeat as made popular by Fela back in the ’80s. Since the success of “One Dance”—the first song ever to rack up over a billion streams on Spotify—the world has been waiting to see what came next. Wizkid has, understandly, become the international poster boy for Afropop. While the scene as whole remains strong globally, many Western listeners look to Wiz and his Starboy Entertainment label as their go-to source. But little is known about the creative team who makes the music that makes the whole world dance.

The second single from Wizkid’s forthcoming album Sounds From The Other Side, “Come Closer” was produced by a man named Sarz. The young Nigerian producer has played a major role in helping push Afropop from behind the scenes, creating street anthems for artists like Tekno, Wande Col, and Burna Boy. Now he’s planting his flag by crafting smash hits with Wizkid. We caught up with Sarz to learn his thoughts on the growth of Afrobeats, to find out what it’s like working with Wiz, and—given the global nature of pop music in 2017—to get a clue as to where the sound of planet Earth is going next.


What were you aiming for when you made the “Come Closer” beat for Wizkid?

I’ve always been making crossover music. “Come Closer” is one of them. I bring together different genres, cultures, musical influences and people with my music. Music is global to me.

Was the song made specifically for him?

No, it wasn’t. Most times he doesn’t really like the beats I specifically make for him.

Did you know Drake would be on it?

I had no idea cos I recorded the first cut with Wiz in the studio. We liked it a lot and we left it at that. The next time we linked up in the studio he played the song. I wasn’t really paying attention because I’ve heard it so many times. Suddenly I heard “Too mixed up in drama to go outside…” I was like whoahhhh!

Do you generally create with artists in the studio or pass along finished beats?

It depends on everyone’s schedule. I’ve made music both ways. I think I slightly prefer passing along ideas or finished beats. Sometimes I just like making music in my comfort zone or maybe
around people I’m used to. It helps me experiment without getting judged [laughs]. I’m just more carefree on my own, you know?

How did you link with Wizkid originally?

I’ve known Wiz for a long time now. He’s family. We first met before he released his first album. His team reached out to work after they heard a song I produced that was doing so good on the radio and topping charts. It was called “Magic Stick” by Da Grin (RIP). We’ve always looked out for each other since then.

 

Do you have any more production on the album?

Yes I do. So much more coming from us. The first two tracks that have been released were produced by me. My work on the album is as diverse as Wiz lets me get [LOL].

How do you feel about Afropop’s growing global acceptance?

It’s amazing! What a time to be alive. I’m here for the fusion. Tell Justin Timberlake I want to work with him! [laughs] This just solidifies the fact that music is global.

Do you see a difference between Afrobeats and Afropop?

Personally, I think Afrobeats and Afropop are the same. This genre is where African music meets pop culture. However, there’s also Afrobeat and it was originated in Nigeria and Ghana and exported by the Great Fela Kuti. It’s a combination of highlife, funk and jazz music.

What’s it like working in such a creative period for Nigeria?

I take this so personal and feel like it’s up to me sometimes to export the music anyway that I can. [laughs] On a more serious note, we can really change the future for Nigerian and African artists so they have the option to take their sound to the world, cos there’s demand for Afrobeats/Afropop. You can be global or choose to stay local.

Were your parents involved with music?

No, not at all.

How did you learn production?

I’ve always loved music and I was fascinated by the way Timbaland, Pharrell, Darkchild, Dr. Dre and a few others created fire over and over again. One day I saw my friend make music on his PC and at that point, I knew I could do it too. I got everything I needed and I taught myself.

How many tracks do you produce in a typical week?

I do as much as I can but most importantly, I’m always looking for unique sounds—or creating them. What are numbers when you’re not churning out quality tracks?

Is your name a reference to the SARS virus?

Yes it is. It’s a reference to how my music spreads like the SARS virus.

Nigerian producer SARZ talks about producing for Wizkid and the global reach of afropop.

Related Articles

Music
Music

Murda She Wrote: Vybz Kartel, Ky-Mani Marley, Wizkid, Spice, Bunji Garlin, Chronixx, Money House Riddim

Music
Music

New Music From: Joey Bada$$, Wizkid, Fit of Body and More

Music
Music

The 17 Best Songs of 2017 (So Far)

News
News

Wizkid Has Three Full-Length Projects Ready

Features
Features

Wizkid’s ‘Sounds From the Other Side’ Eyes the World

Ad

Latest News

moneybagg-yo-still Video

Moneybagg Yo Levels Up With “Important” Video

"Tell the label, 'Open up the budget'"
Confederate Statue News

It’s Time to Tear Down All of the Racist Statues

Baltimore is the latest city to remove its Confederate memorials
dave-east-slow-down News

Dave East Releases ‘Paranoia’ Tracklist, Unveils Nas & Chris Brown Features

The project features Chris Brown and Nas
bun-b News

Watch Bun B Keep it Trill in Trumpland

Front, back & fuck you
charlottesville-both-sides Features

Both Sides Now: Where Do We Go After Charlottesville?

Searching for common ground
Music Video

PREMIERE: Twista Turns His “Disrespectful” Video Into a Straight-Up Slasher Flick

Jason Vorhees mode
Art

Watch Pete Miser Create Paper Script Album Art

Kinfolk artist crafts his own 'Depression Era Thinking' cover
nba-2k18 News

‘NBA 2K18’ Celebrates Prodigy of Mobb Deep in New Trailer

The clip features "Shook Ones"
willie-d-geto-boys Music

How to Survive the AmeriKKKan Nightmare, A Playlist

Charlottesville is on our mind, and this is what we're listening to
nicholas-fulcher Hey, You're Cool

Hey, You’re Cool! Nicholas Fulcher

"Don't stop 'till you secure the bag"
south-park-20-years Features

Everything I Need To Know About Charlottesville I Learned on ‘South Park’

Trey Stone and Matt Parker predicted the future for the last 20 years
Daily Blunt News

LeBron James Calls Trump the “So-Called President”

The NBA star once again uses his platform to take a stand
digital-nas Music Video

PREMIERE: You Can “Hate” Digital Nas Video Now

What's in a name?
obama pretending to use a smart phone News

Barack Obama’s Charlottesville Response Becomes “Most-Liked” Tweet Ever

"Love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite"
a$ap mob walks around in their music video for "feels so good." the third single off of their upcoming cozy tapes vol. 2: too cozy project dropping at the end of august. Music Video

A$AP Mob Fights For Camera Time In “Feels So Good” Video

They debuted the track on 'The Tonight Show'
mf-doom-jay-electronica Music

MF DOOM and Jay Electronica Finally Release Their Fire Collaboration “True Light...

This is not a drill!