In 2013, Sean Tizzle was crowned the Headies ‘Next Rated’ artist in a category that had the likes of Burna Boy, Phyno and Seyi Shay, but things haven’t been the same ever since. When it comes to debut albums that have left a major impact like never before on the Nigerian music scene, there are a few that readily comes to mind.While albums like 2face’s ”Face2Face” or Wande Coal’s ”Mushin2MoHits” evoke mind-blowing nostalgic reactions and stand apart as their respective era’s alpha and omega projects for how they not just shaped the careers of the respective artists but also setting a blueprint for other artists to follow.
Another one that had a huge influence on the scene was Sean Tizzle’s ”The Journey” album released in 2014, a golden cut that replicated the template pushed forward by the other albums but now hugely reflected the urban sound and style of his own times. There will never be another album like ”The Journey.” The album had it all, from love anthems like ‘Perfect Gentleman’, ‘Igi Orombo’ and ‘Could This Be Love’ to banging feel good records like ‘Loke Loke’, ‘Komole’, ‘Kilogbe’ and ‘Take It’. The 17 track project was one that combined his cultural influences and Pop nurturing into a perfect fit.
The album was voted as the “Best R&B/Pop Album” at the 2014 Headies. Sean Tizzle had made his debut on the scene a year earlier with the D’Tunes produced record, ‘Sho Lee’, which became an instant hit, one that pivoted a profile-raising moment drawing attention to his talent. The single marked his mainstream arrival especially as he went on to win the much coveted Next Rated award at the 2013 edition of The Headies, a year where he was nominated alongside the likes of Burna Boy, Dammy Krane, Seyi Shay and Phyno.
His songwriting and vocal skills were close to flawless and in an era where the former was no longer an art-form to cherish, it was welcoming to hear someone who was actually putting thoughts to his words. Alongside D’Tunes, they presented the perfect partnership and similar to the earlier mentioned albums where 2face and the late OJB, Wande Coal and Don Jazzy struck the right chord, the success of his debut album was no surprise as it seemed impossible for anything to go wrong with the duo. Sean Tizzle’s run at the time was nearly unmatched, every song was a hit, his sonic trajectory upped the existing standards and his name was already mentioned as a future great, but sadly that has not exactly worked according to script.
The controversies and ‘Fall’ of Sean Tizzle
While 2013/2014 brought him unprecedented levels of success, 2015 was the year where everything he touched seemed to go wrong as his personal demons managed to outshine his genuine talent and phenomenal music. It was in 2015 that the house that music built began to crumble as news filtered through of a rift between Sean Tizzle and producer/label head D’Tunes.
The Difference Entertainment owner had signed five new artists to the label, Q-Dot, Bad Boy Ace, D-O, ATM and Kue Bounce with reports suggesting that these signings didn’t exactly go down well with Tizzle. He subsequently left the country for a while and not long after, he launched his independent platform, Tizzle Nation and started working with other producers, the likes of Black Jerzey. With fame, appreciation, endorsement deals, glamour and a fast-rising fan base came pressure and expectations and with social media playing a huge part, Sean Tizzle’s story became a complex web of unending controversies.
With his unbridled pride, uncompromising opinions, at-times entitlement and a rapidly changing music industry where fans now had more power than usual, he just could not catch a break. In 2015, a fan called Tizzle out on Instagram over ‘Skin Bleaching’ following a picture he shared on his page. This didn’t go down well with the very vocal artist who wasted no time in responding to the fan. Shortly after this incident, a video also surfaced online where he walked out during an interview where again the subject of him bleaching was raised. Another attribute of Sean Tizzle that has not gone down well with Nigerians is his very vocal character.
Sean is never one to back down from speaking what he believes is his truth and this has put him in trouble with fans more often than not. In the same year, he struck a lot of nerves when in a series of tweets, he boldly claimed that Omawumi’s cover version of Adele’s hit single, ‘Hello’ was better than that of the original owner, which he termed a ”weak version.” The reactions to this were loud and damning. To worsen things, these series of outbursts coincided with the emergence of the likes of Kizz Daniel, [then known as Kiss Daniel] and the Nigerian music audience in a very typical fashion wasted to time in turning attention to the new talent and permanently placing Sean Tizzle in its ‘black book.’
It was so bad that not even the 2017 released EP, ”Moving Forward”, which packed a number of power collaborations including Davido on the remix of ‘Kpro Kpro’ or International star Tory Lanez on ‘Hit n Run’ could cast a few glances back in his direction. Irrespective of how you feel, Sean Tizzle still got it Since the album dropped and the distractions that has come his way, he has released a string of rushed and mediocre singles within the period in his attempt to get the fans back on his side.
But despite the cold reaction that followed his last EP, ‘Moving Forward’, critically it was a collection of seven gorgeously delivered songs that offered something pleasantly different from the proliferation that filled the space at the time. Then in 2018, he served a reminder of his creative brilliance with the single, ‘Pempe’, a brilliant mellow song that overflows with different iterations of his creative best. Without a doubt, Sean Tizzle is a damn good musician, one of the most creative voices the industry boast of, and perhaps also one of its least understood characters. While that sounds like a good combination in other spheres, it often doesn’t mix well with the Nigerian audience and at this point, it may take more than fire music to get him back on the glorious horse he once rode on. Added to that, a new generation of stars have surfaced and the music has changed a lot.
While there is very little doubt that the hits may yet not have dried up, it would be interesting to see if he ever could hit the heights he once attained years ago. Tizzle who released a new single at the start of the year can, however, take solace from the career of someone like Mr Eazi, who suffered a fate similar to his and has yet found a way to make something out of it. On Wednesday, March 6, 2019, Sean Tizzle’s name is a trending topic on Twitter as fans remember the one they once loved, whether organic or sponsored, one can’t really tell, but this may just be the window he needs to push his music to those who truly believe in him.