Since Wande Coal went pop, Nigerian R&B has sought a successor to a spent Darey and a now mundane Banky W. But if 'Tonight', out in 2016 but reborn by the recent release of its video, is anything to go by, that search has ended.
'Tonight', as performed by Nonso Amadi, is a song expressive of grace and beauty, hinting at an estranged love through the cocksure attitude of a male lover who knows what turns his partner’s knees to jelly. It is a fresh tune devoid stripped of the disposable ‘jollof music’ of many Nigerian pop songs.
Tonight has a linear relationship with 'Suicidal', the most languid song from Amadi’s 2015 EP, Alone, which begins with an airy meshwork of indistinct sounds followed by a short spoken-word poetry about the scary and hard to heal nature of love and ends with ‘Gele’, a somewhat jivey tune. It can be said that ‘Tonight’ is the refined, finished version of ‘Suicidal’. What he tried with ‘Suicidal’ he gets on ‘Tonight’.
Unlike most Nigerian pop songs which are in a hurry to get somewhere, 'Tonight' isn't. It takes a circumlocutory route instead, seducing the listener to go “all the way with me”.
At a time when a different pop tune pops into the mainstream music consciousness weekly and with almost each one of them hellbent on dance, enormous bank accounts, and women’s backsides, ‘Tonight’ (and its singer) is obsessed with a “spot” instead.
On ‘Long Way Home’, third track from the Alone EP, Amadi tells his lover he knows the shortcut to the “right spot”—just as he says on ‘Tonight’, “You know I got a special spot to help you remember me.” Just as this preoccupation with a spot is a departure from the lyrics of pop artists, so is 'Tonight' different in giving something different to music lovers craving songs beyond ones occupied with dance, backsides and bank accounts. Nonso Amadi’s ‘Tonight’ is not a song for the people. It is a song for some people.
Some musicians have a song or an album they are known for. For some it's their first single; for others, it's their debut album. ‘Tonight’ may be the forerunner of that song for Nonso if he channels the freshness of this tune into what could be his next “big single”. He has no peers per se in Nigerian R&B. He can be king of the genre if he doesn’t (as Wande Coal did) compromise along the way.