My first introduction to this talented artist was sometime last year through various ‘less than a minute’ video clips that have gone viral and randomly popped up on popular Twitter timelines. Apparently the artist had built a cult following online having earned some form of reputation from her Instagram videos over the years. She was well regarded for her endless covers from Drake’s “Controlla” to John Legend’s “Tonight”.
Listening to her for the first time, the most striking attribute that hits you is her voice. There is something compelling about the voice that holds you spell-bound. It is smooth, intentional and confident; if there is one area many upcoming acts struggle with from their early records, it is with owning that easily recognizable voice. Most build it as they progress over the years but Teni Apata was born with one, plus she has the personality to go along with it.
Born Teniola Apata, Teni Entertainer is not your regular female artist; she is an antithesis of everything the female artist in 2017 represents which includes her also talented sister and music star Niniola who oozes sexiness in all her videos. Looks are the last thing on her mind as Teni comes across as unpredictable with her tom boy demeanor, well-combed afro and extra large shirts. But she stays captivating with her playful mien that she expresses in her songs or videos. She is not even cut from the same cloth as the new wave of alternative artists that have taken over the scene recently like Nonso Amadi, Odunsi the Engine, Tay Iwar, Lady Donli and others – Teni Entertainer is different.
She apparently has had a knack for music from a tender age, performing as a kid for various Lagos State Governors dating back to Buba Marwa. But it wasn’t until 2016 when she got signed to producer Shizzi’s Magic Finger Records that her buzz began to extend beyond the hives and she began to take it more seriously.
She initially released a sober freestyle titled “Boluwatife“ which translates to ‘God’s Will’, dedicated to her late father with an accompanying video shot on the streets of Ojuelegba in Surulere. Then she followed this up with ‘Amen’, her debut single delivered in a mixture of Yoruba and Pidgin, announcing her official entry into the music industry.
Teni recently released her second single titled “Fargin”, which is an adaptation of the word virgin. The song playfully addresses the topic of rape and sexual abuse, clearly aiming her words at abusive relatives,
Uncle, I’m still a Fargin o
I don’t know nothing o,
O ni, don’t take it personal
I just want to know you better
Though her lyrics comes off a bit too strong and raunchy for a new artist, which I fear may limit the success of the song as it may not get the desired radio airplays, but her message is clear and a much needed one especially at this period where the issue of domestic violence is at the front burner of public debate. From the start of the song produced by Mystro, Teni jumps into “Fargin” eagerly blending Fuji, highlife and Pop, as she switches between languages and delivered a musical masterpiece.
“Fargin” is creating the right crescendo as she continues to work on her EP due to be released later this year, and working under the guidance of Shizzi who is renowned for crafting many mainstream hits. It will be interesting to see how she develops and handles the weight of expectations that comes with her talents especially in a male-dominated industry where the female talents, outside a handful have struggled to find consistency.
Teni Entertainer’s biggest musical influence is Fuji Legend, King Wasiu Ayinde Marshall (Kwam 1) and just like him, she comes across as unapologetic with her bold and unfiltered way of making music. But the same time, offering something refreshing that may be set to propel her from a couple of Instagram likes to becoming one of the most thrilling new names on the scene.
It may yet be early days but Teni Apata looks like the real deal who may just be riding this wave for a long time to come.