Deep Cuts: Nonso Amadi’s “Tonight” Is An Evergreen Anthem
New Nonso Amadi soon
New Nonso Amadi soon
750 days: that’s the time difference between Nonso Amadi’s previous pair of tweets. It’s an unusually lengthy time for a musician operating in popular spaces not to tweet, but then again Nonso Amadi is not your regular run-of-the-mill artist. Even while he burned hot on the lips of admirers, he maintained an elusive nature, popping up rarely if not only, in the complex stories folded into his R&B-influenced songs. If anything, his recent update hints at forthcoming music, and we’ve been patiently waiting.
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Sometime in late 2017, a record built on melancholic keys and almost muted percussions caught the ears of a number of listeners, quickly moving from an underground sensation into larger spaces—on radio most notably, the song became a favourite, repeated at various times over the course of a day.
Most listeners didn’t even know the singer was Nigerian; such was the breadth of Nonso Amadi’s expression. Slowly people caught up and before the year’s end, the Canadian-based singer had become quite popular, particularly among young people.
“Tonight” was everything Nonso Amadi needed in a breakout song. It’s that kind of song that equally packs thoughtfulness and groove, lined with the impeccable songwriting Nonso would regularly demonstrate down the years. In some ways it’s ambiguous, shuttling between scenes without laying specificity, but strikingly visual (“my girl, she’s got a gun in her hand”) and perfectly conveyed by Amadi’s glossy vocals.
Anyone who has loved knows the complexity that comes with the terrain. “Tonight” captured that dilemma so often associated with young love, where the harm caused by toxic habits clashes against the eventual make-up. “Tonight I represent the guy with the money who lives fast, but baby don’t die young,” Nonso Amadi sings on the pre-hook, hinting at the possibility of danger.
About three months later, he followed up with “Long Live The Queen,” further flexing his skill for producing deep tensions within simple structures. Love records are a industry trope, but who else is beginning theirs with such as “She was the queen to my heart but had her kingdom overthrown/Fought off the beasts in the dark, she spent the sleepless nights alone”?
In some ways Nonso Amadi never got his flowers for striking out early in the singer-songwriter path. Though his self-production and other DIY qualities made him considered among the Alté community (and even creating a joint EP with Odunsi The Engine), he was exploring sounds with a fixed tradition. Think Drake, think Bryson Tiller, think emotional conflicts doused in deceptively simple lyrics, and think of the Canadian connection.
The years since 2017 have been kinder to ingenious lyricists. Never has someone like Nonso Amadi been so primed for a takeover, and his more recent outputs have been typically great. 2019’s Free saw him collaborate with mainstream acts like Simi and Mr. Eazi, piquing curiosity towards what direction his forthcoming music could go.
Regardless, we’re all quite aware of Nonso Amadi’s brilliance and, truthfully, few songs released throughout the 2010s matches up to the sheer beauty of “Tonight”.
Revisit Nonso Amadi’s “Tonight” below.
Featured image credits/NATIVE