Once Upon a Time (Tiwa Savage album)

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Once Upon a Time
Official Cover For Tiwa's Once Upon A Time.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedJuly 3, 2013
Tiwa Savage chronology
Once Upon a Time
Singles from Once Upon a Time
  1. "Kele Kele Love"
    Released: November 4, 2010
  2. "Love Me (3x)"
    Released: October 10, 2011
  3. "Without My Heart"
    Released: December 5, 2011
  4. "Ife Wa Gbona"
    Released: October 8, 2012
  5. "Folarin"
    Released: December 13, 2012[1]
  6. "Olorun Mi"
    Released: June 3, 2013
  7. "Eminado"
    Released: October 8, 2013[2]

Once Upon a Time is the debut studio album by Nigerian singer Tiwa Savage. It was released by Mavin Records and 323 Entertainment on July 3, 2013.[3] The album was made available for purchase on iTunes a day before its official release.[4] It features guest appearances from Don Jazzy, Flavour N'abania, Leo Wonder, Iceberg Slim, Sarkodie and General Pype. Don Jazzy, Tunji "Tee Billz" Balogun and Tiwa Savage executive produced the album, along with contributions from Warren "Oak" Felder, Sauce Wilson, Harmony Samuels, GospelOnDeBeatz, Del B, Raydar Ellis and Spellz.[5] The album was supported by seven singles—"Kele Kele Love", "Love Me (3x)", "Without My Heart", "Ife Wa Gbona", "Folarin", "Olorun Mi" and "Eminado".

Background, recording, production, release and promotion[edit]

Don Jazzy produced four tracks on the album in addition to being one of its executive producers.

Once Upon a Time was initially scheduled for release in 2011, but problems with clearance made Tiwa Savage pushed back its release date.[6] The album comprises nineteen tracks as well as two bonus tracks.[7] Tiwa Savage named the album Once Upon a Time in order to portray the positive stories about her life. She wanted to motivate other upcoming artists by telling them that, once upon a time, she was a little girl in Isale Eko who dreamt of being a star.[6] During an interview with Berklee College of Music's Brenda Pike, she hinted to possibly recording songs with Chuck Harmony, Warren Oak Felder, and So Sick (Da Grin). Moreover, she said that the album will embody pop, R&B, soul, and yoruba sounds.[8]

On May 26, 2013, Tiwa Savage revealed the album's cover and track-listing during a private album listening party held at the Wheatbaker Hotel in Ikoyi, Lagos.[9] The party was sponsored by 323 Entertainment, Mavin Records, Pepsi and Baileys. Guests in attendance included Banky W, Waje, Tunde Demuren, Eku Edewor, Dolapo Oni, Tosyn Bucknor, Noble Igwe, Osahon Asemota, Nwachukwu Uti, Linda Ikeji, DJ Spinall, DJ Jimmy Jatt, Lynxxx, N6, Ice Berg Slim, General Pype, IllRymz and Franca Asindi.


On November 4, 2010, 323 Entertainment released the album's debut single "Kele Kele Love". The music video for the song was shot and directed in Los Angeles by Jerry Chan. It was also co-directed by Tiwa Savage and Tee Billz.[10]

On October 10, 2011, "Love Me (3x)" was released as the second single from the album. The music video for the song was shot and directed in Los Angeles by Sesan.[11] "Love Me (3x)" was nominated for Best R&B Single at The Headies 2012. Tiwa won Best Female Vocal Performance at the aforementioned award.[12]

On December 5, 2011, Tiwa Savage released the album's third single "Without My Heart" featuring Don Jazzy.[13] The music video for the song was directed by Mark Hofmeyr.[14] The single peaked at number 37 on Afribiz's Top 100 music chart.[15] The music video for the single was nominated for Best African Act Video at the 2013 4Syte TV Music Video Awards.[16] The music video was also nominated for Most Gifted Female Video at the 2013 Channel O Music Video Awards.[17] Furthermore, the song earned Tiwa Savage and Don Jazzy a nomination at the 2013 Nigeria Entertainment Awards[18][19]

Two of the five artists featured on the album

On October 8, 2012, Tiwa Savage released the album's fourth single "Ife Wa Gbona" featuring recording artist Leo Wonder. The music video for the single was directed by Bolaji Kekere-Ekun.[20] The song peaked at number 66 on Afribiz's Top 100 music chart.[15] The music video for "Ife Wa Gbona" won Best Highlife and was nominated for Best Use of Costumes, Best Indigenous Concept and Video of the Year at the 2013 Nigeria Music Video Awards (NMVA).[21]

On December 13, 2012, "Folarin" was released as the album's fifth single. The song was produced by Spellz.[1] On June 3, 2013, Tiwa Savage released the album's sixth single "Olorun Mi". Its music video was directed by George Guise.[22] Tiwa Savage told Ebuka Obi-Uchendu of Channels TV's Rubbin' Minds that the song pays tribute to the Dana Plane Crash, Goldie Harvey and Justice Esiri.

"Eminado" was released as the seventh single from the album. In the aforementioned interview with Vanguard, Tiwa Savage was asked to describe the song. Her response was: "The sound and name is the handiwork of Don Jazzy. We got the idea when we were in the studio rehearsing. We were just playing around with words and sounds. So when it came up, we thought it was a good one and we decided to turn it into a song". The music video for the single was directed by Clarence Peters. It was released on November 4, 2013.[23]

Other songs and releases[edit]

Tiwa Savage dedicated the song "Written All Over Your Face" to her fiance for the role he played in her life. The song has received few criticisms from people who felt that its lyrics are lewd and explicit.[24] On May 27, 2014, 323 Entertainment and Mavin Records released the music video for "Wanted", which was directed by Moe Musa in London.[25] The release of the video triggered an angry backlash among critics.[26]

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Hip Hop World Magazine4/5 stars[28]
Nigerian Entertainment Today4/5 stars[29]
TooXclusive2.5/5 stars[30]

Upon its release, Once Upon a Time was met with generally positive reviews from music critics. Tayo Ayomide of Nigerian Entertainment Today gave the album a 4 out of 5, stating: "The strength of Tiwa Savage’s album is in her songwriting skill and the line-up of international producers who bring depth and range to the production on this album."[29]

Ronke Adepoju of TayoTv gave the album an 8.75 out of 10, adding: "Tiwa showed her versatility by working with different artistes from different genres, from rap to high life, to reggae to R&B like herself. With the minimum help possible, she still managed to pull it off."[27]

Hip Hop World Magazine gave the album a 4 out of 5, adding: "Despite the slight errors, Tiwa Savage’s debut effort in the Nigerian market was worth the wait. She has been able to produce an album that accommodates her song writing skill and pop ambitions."[28]

At TooXclusive, Ogaga Sakpaide gave the album a 2.5 out of 5, noting: "Despite the involvement of different production “heavyweights” on the album, the total body of work lacks an actual identity (not forgetting the quite frankly unnecessary length), while it’s multiple genres makes it ‘Once Upon a Time’s Achilles’ heel and leaves it lacking the organic sound an album should possess."[30]

Wilfred Okiche of YNaija said: "At 21 songs, there are just too many fillers, too much autotune, too much Don Jazzy and an over dependence on the gloss. One has to dig deep to find the real substance. It plays like Ms Savage is just pandering, surrendering to market dictates while throwing a bit of her true self in between."[31]


Once Upon a Time was nominated for Best Album of the Year at the 2014 Nigeria Entertainment Awards.[32] The album was also nominated for Best R&B/Pop Album at The Headies 2014.[33]

Year Awards ceremony Award description(s) Results
2014 Nigeria Entertainment Awards Best Album of the Year Nominated
The Headies Best R&B/Pop Album Nominated

Track listing[edit]

1."Once Upon a Time"Tiwa Savage, Marcus McCauley, and Rahima BalogunZakira Ousley1:54
2."Wanted"Tiwa Savage and Tiffany FredWarren ‘Oak’ Felder3:30
3."Ileke"Tiwa Savage and TJ BillzGospelOnDeBeatz4:00
4."Middle Passage"Tiwa SavageRaydar Ellis5:01
5."Olorun Mi"Tiwa SavageSauce Wilson3:52
6."Why Don't You Love Me"Tiwa SavageDon Jazzy, Altims3:56
7."Fela Interlude"Fela Anikulapo KutiSauce Wilson1:23
8."Love Me (3x)"Tiwa Savage and Richard KingHarmony Samuels3:39
9."Eminado" (featuring Don Jazzy)Tiwa SavageDon Jazzy3:50
10."Folarin"Tiwa Savage and Wande CoalSpellz Magik Boi4:11
11."Oh Yeah" (featuring Don Jazzy)Tiwa SavageDon Jazzy3:24
12."Shout out" (featuring Iceberg Slim and Sarkodie)Tiwa Savage, Ice Berg Slim, and SarkodieSpellz Magik Boi3:50
13."Written All over Your Face"Tiwa Savage and Tiffany FredWarren ‘Oak’ Felder3:31
14."Get Low"Tiwa SavageSauce Wilson3:46
15."Ife Wa Gbona" (featuring Leo Wonder)Tiwa Savage and Leo WonderSo Sick (Da Grin)4:48
16."Eji Ma Fia"Tiwa Savage, Trafik, Chi GurlSpelz Magik Boi5:05
17."Baby Mo" (featuring Flavour N'abania)Tiwa Savage and Flavour N'abaniaDel B3:34
18."Stand as One" (featuring General Pype)Tiwa Savage and General PypeSpellz Magik Boi4:28
19."Thank You"Tiwa Savage and AltimsDon Jazzy2:33


  • Michael Collins Ajereh - Executive producer, featured artist
  • Tunji "Tee Billz" Balogun - Executive producer
  • Warren ‘Oak’ Felder - Record producer
  • Sauce Wilson - Record producer
  • Harmony Samuels - Record producer
  • Gospel On D Beatz - Record producer
  • Del B - Record producer
  • Raydar Ellis - Record producer
  • Spellz Magik Boi - Record producer
  • So Sick (Da Grin) - Record producer
  • Chinedu Okoli - Featured artist, writer
  • Leo Wonder - Featured artist, writer
  • Olusegun Olowokere - Featured artist, writer
  • Michael Owusu Addo - Featured artist, writer
  • General Pype - Featured artist, writer
  • Oluwatobi Wande Ojosipe - Writer
  • Richard King - Writer
  • Chi Gurl - Writer
  • Altims - Writer
  • Trafik - Writer
  • Marcus McCauley - Writing credits
  • Rahima Balogun - Writing credits
  • Zakira Ousley - Producing credits

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label
ITunes July 2, 2013 CD, Digital download Mavin Records. 323 Entertainment
Nigeria July 3, 2013


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  2. ^ "360Hawt: Tiwa Savage – Eminado ft Don Jazzy". 360nobs. 8 October 2013. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
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  4. ^ "iTunes - Music - Once Upon a Time by Tiwa Savage". iTunes. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  5. ^ "ALBUM REVIEW: Tiwa Savage – Once Upon A Time". tooxclusive. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  6. ^ a b "My fiance wiped away my shame – Tiwa Savage". Vanguard Nigeria. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  7. ^ "Exclusive Photos from Tiwa Savage's Album Listening Party". 360nobs. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
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  10. ^ "New Video: Tiwa Savage – Kele Kele Love". Bellanaija. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  11. ^ "VIDEO PREMIERE: Tiwa Savage – Love Me, Love Me, Love Me". Notjustok. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  12. ^ "The Headies (Hip Hop World Awards 2012) Winners List". Hiphopworldmagazine. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  13. ^ "Tiwa Savage ft. Don Jazzy – Without My Heart". NotjustOk.com. 5 December 2011. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  14. ^ "New Music: Tiwa Savage feat. Don Jazzy – Without My Heart". Bellanaija. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  15. ^ a b "Afribiz Charts - Top 100". Afribizcharts. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  16. ^ "2013 4syte TV Music Video Awards launched". Citifm Online. 6 October 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  17. ^ "2013 Channel O Music Video Awards: First Photos from the Nominees Announcement + Complete List of Nominees". Bellanaija. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  18. ^ "Nigeria Entertainment Awards 2013 -View Full Nominees List". Notjustok. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  19. ^ "Nigerian Entertainment Awards: Nadia, Dumelo and Sarkodie win". ghanaweb. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  20. ^ "Tiwa Savage Feat. Leo Wonder – Ife Wa Gbona". Bellanaija. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  21. ^ "NIgerian Music Video Awards (NMVA 2012 ) Full Winners List". tooxclusive. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  22. ^ "VIDEO: Tiwa Savage – Olorun Mi". Notjustok. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  23. ^ "VIDEO: Tiwa Savage ft. Don Jazzy – Eminado". Notjustok. 4 November 2013. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
  24. ^ "Tiwa Savage: Once upon a time". Msn Entertainment. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  25. ^ "PHOTOS/VIDEO: Tiwa Savage's Most Raunchy Video Finally Out". Osun Defender. 28 May 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  26. ^ Owoseje, Toyin (28 May 2014). "Tiwa Savage Wanted Video: Singer's Super Sexy Promo Causes Backlash". International Business Times. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  27. ^ a b "REVIEW: Tiwa Savage - Once Upon a Time". TayoTv. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  28. ^ a b "Tiwa Savage - Once Upon A Time (Album Review)". Hiphopworldmagazine. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  29. ^ a b "Album Review: Once Upon A Time is a sweet fairy tale". The Net Nigeria. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  30. ^ a b "ALBUM REVIEW: Tiwa Savage – Once Upon A Time". tooxclusive. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  31. ^ "Album review: On 'Once upon a time', Tiwa Savage isn't quite sure what she wants to be". YNaija. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  32. ^ Abimboye, Micheal (31 May 2014). "Pop duo, Skuki, reject Nigerian Entertainment Awards nomination". Premium Times. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  33. ^ Ochugba, Mary (10 October 2014). "The Headies unveils 2014 nominees". Business Day. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  34. ^ "ONCE UPON A TIME ( THE ALBUM) – TIWA SAVAGE: THE MOB'S TAKE…………". citrusmusiclive. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  35. ^ "Tiwa Savage "Once Upon A Time" Album Listening Session: My thoughts on the album, Her fashion & the event". that1960chick. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  36. ^ "Direct Sample of Drums". WhoSampled.com. Retrieved 24 December 2013.