Every morning as the sun rises, so do we to the sounds of our favorite artists. On long commutes or treacherous hikes, our pods are tightly tucked into our ears. Whether you find yourself basking in the joy of a good day or fighting through the blues of a breakup, music is a part of the process, and no matter what life throws at you, there’s a Tay Iwar record for that.
The soothing ocean-like sounds of Austin Iornongu Iwar, better known as Tay Iwar, are undeniably high grade. Tay first came on the scene in 2014 with an EP titled “Passport,” in which he allowed us to sample a sound that we would instantly be enamored by. With songs like “TheBox,” that sonically challenges your eardrums leaving you thinking your fave could never, it was clear that his music was soulful enough to make us fall in love and eclectic enough to keep us on our toes.
In 2016, we were gifted “Renascentia” (Latin for rebirth), an emotionally charged mixtape with narcotic R&B tones and potent penmanship. Although Tay refuses to fit into a particular genre, the goosebumps we feel listening to songs like “Nsomnia” and “Equestrian Love,” are just as prominent as those that emerge when listening to our favorite records by 6lack or Ginuwine. Sexually honest lyrics and and sea deep sentiment place us proverbially in our emotional bag, listening on repeat with the right amount of hot and bothered…just as he intended.
Five years into this love, we receive “GEMINI,” and like a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, the time bring maturity and a new level of sultriness. The album is a perfect blend of “Passport,” 6 shots of the 90s flare, and half a gallon of relatable content. Tay triples as singer, songwriter, and producer (12/16 tracks) on the album, so it is important to note that the production is of optimal quality. He delivers clear musical direction, instrumentation and dynamic range, alongside authentic/honest lyrics that are relayed through a perfect falsetto, so tactile, it feels like a warm embrace.
Tay is known for his storytelling abilities and does not fail to take listeners on a journey through songs like “SPACE,” which features Santi and Preye. This feel-good song gives off a Reggae vibration, with solitude, and separation from a person, space or pattern as the central them. He reminds us why we shouldn’t have rushed into that relationship while emotionally unavailable or had that one night stand with someone we now can’t shake off. The theme of change in a relational dynamic, acknowledging the change, and having no interest in opposing that change, runs through “ITS OKAY,” which samples a cult favorite “Foolish,” by Ashanti. The nostalgic feeling of this 1:38 song is undeniable, and the use of the electronic vocals in the intro gives it a galactic, astro-esque sound. The album also features Odunsi (The Engine) on “SUGARDADDY”, which starts soft and carries the throwback R&B feel that runs through the project then transitions into an up-tempo highlife rhythm. It takes form as an observational piece on the transactional relationship that is a young woman and her sugar daddy, but also highlights how unfulfilling love can be with the absence of other key factors such as money. As Davido said, “Love is sweet oh, when money enter love is sweeter” – a fact.
With music so genuine and relatable, it is no wonder we can’t get him off the radios, TV shows, or out of our heads. As one of the pioneers of the new wave Alte sound in Lagos, Nigeria, it is fitting to say that he truly is in a lane of his own. Watching the evolution of an artist you love is one thing, but growing alongside them is nothing short of euphoric, and after years of exploring, loving and supporting his music, it has never been more clear that to love the sounds of Tay Iwar, is to allow yourself to feel every emotion openly and honestly.
Pam is a black female stylist in Toronto who draws inspiration from music, art and architecture. She also runs a small wellness program for women of colour, which strives to provide a safe space for validation and growth.