Naira Marley Hits the Stage of NPR Tiny Desk Concerts

In celebration of Black Music Month, NPR Tiny Desk Concerts enlists the famous Marlian president, Naira Marley as a recent addition to the live video series hosted by Bob Boilen. Naira Marley opens up his performance with a shout-out to his beloved fan base, hailing them, as usual, with “Marlians!” before launching into riveting acoustic renditions of his biggest hits. Naira bedazzles fans and non-fans with this live performance, rapping in his normal indigenous style and accompanying it with his fluid dance moves. His performance rolls forth days after that of Adekunle Gold.


Azeez Adeshina, popularly known as Naira Marley, whose career shot off on the streets of Peckham, London, nurtured plans of becoming a voice-over artist before following the enthralling call of music. He released “Marry Juana” in 2015 and it was an overall success in the UK. The sensation of “Marry Juana” laid the groundwork for his EP, Gotta Dance, which was also released in 2015. However, Marley was an obscure act in Nigeria until his 2017 hit, “Issa Goal”, supported by Lil Kesh and Olamide, landed him in the spotlight and was employed as the theme song for the Super Eagles at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Nonetheless, if people still did not know Naira Marley at that time, they certainly did in 2019 when the “Marlian movement” began. Naira Marley got entwined in cases with the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and these legal fiascos translated to noteworthy creative inspirations as he released several smashing hits like “Soapy” during that period.


Despite his controversies, Naira Marley has soared in the Nigerian music industry. His quirky slangs, sharply invented dance steps, and brazen lyrics have kept him at the peak of social communities and rendered him a significant facilitator in Nigeria’s pop culture. His ability to produce bangers in perfectly blended concoctions of both Yoruba, English, and street lingo is phenomenal. Hence, it is no surprise that the leader of the Marlians was able to land a spot in the venerable NPR Tiny Desk Concerts.


NPR Tiny Desk Concerts was created by Boilen and Thompson who lamented that the dissonant roar of the audience impeded an intimate connection with their favourite artists in the regular concerts. Thus, they spun up Tiny Desk Concerts to serve as an intimate show where artists are able to sit solely and perform in their most authentic element — without the raucous backdrop of a rowdy audience, pyrotechnics, and all the other technicalities involved in maintaining a concert.


The COVID-19 Pandemic levelled a hitch in production and artists were required to substitute virtual recordings of their performances for the usual concert conducted behind the desk at NPR’s office in Washington D.C. and it was rebranded “Tiny Desk (Home) Concerts”. True to its initial purpose, NPR Tiny Desk Concerts exposes fans to more realistic and primal versions of artists and their songs. It beguiles spectators by presenting music in a wholesome and raw form.


Naira Marley, who recently released his debut album, God’s Timing’s the Best, is seen performing his, arguably, biggest and most controversial song, “Soapy” alongside other major hits like “Coming”, “O’dun (feat Zinoleesky)” and “Ayewada”. He joins superstars like Alicia Keys, T Pain, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, etc, on the NPR Tiny Desk platform and adds this to his brimming portfolio.


You can watch Naira Marley show up and show out on NPR Tiny Desk Concerts here.

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