If eyes are the window to your soul, then Wavy the Creator knows exactly how to keep the world at a mystifying distance with her permanent shades-up look. The multifaceted artist and “Nigerian alien,” as she describes herself, decided to make sunglasses her signature a month before her move last year from Houston to Lagos, where she became the personal photographer to Nigerian hip-hop star Olamide and subsequently transformed into a vocalist herself. This spring, after her domestic breakout hit, “H.I.G.H.,” she opened for Skepta’s BBK crew, which consists of British M.C. J Hus and Afrobeat stars Wizkid and Davido, for their Homecoming Africa concert, as well the kingpin U.K. rapper himself.

In her new video, for the single “Shaku,” named after the contemporary Nigerian dance craze, Wavy the Creator shrugs on an orange-creamsicle Pith Africa jumpsuit with nondescript black frames and dispels all of life’s shadier vibes with a clan of gently swaying cohorts. “I was singing about being able to find the good times in the hard times and knowing just how to be happy,” she explains. “Dance it away. It brings the good energy around.” Her visuals here, grainy and seemingly shot with a Sony camcorder, were diligently edited in postproduction to parallel her equally laid-back, retro-tinged grooves. “I wanted the whole setting to look like another time,” she says. “It even feels like it blends well with the sound, too.”

A photo of Wavy the Creator

Photo: Courtesy of Wavy the Creator

When Wavy sings of day-to-day anxieties (“Life can be unfair/My mind plays tricks on me”) and soft-spoken pleas for attention (“Don’t you notice me? The way my body flows”) through a gentle cascade of piano keys, she reminds listeners there’s no shame in hitting the club to shaku shaku the ennui away. Her sparse yet sultry evocation of a warehouse party was partially inspired by the directorial style of “Get You” by rising Los Angeles soul star Daniel Caesar. Both, like never-before-seen footage remarkably ahead of its time, are steeped with persuasive nostalgia for a bygone era that never was. The crowds of people behind Wavy, tinged in purple and orange hues, sport white ’60s-inspired diamond-shaped sunglasses, feather fans, and wigs. Her own choice of an iconic oversize white button-up, updated with a woven-textile pocket by Nigeria’s own Wumanbrand, suggests that balancing the current with the classic is one of Wavy’s personal strengths. Case in point: She sports Nike Air Max 97s—a shoe beloved by sneaker purists everywhere—that were reimagined and gifted to her by Skepta.

“Everywhere I’ve been and every place I go has influenced and changed my style in some way or the other,” Wavy says. Since her relocation, Wavy’s stacks of silver rings and traditional African beaded jewelry have multiplied, thanks to the Nigerian affinity for accessories. She’s also been “privileged to meet a lot of young creatives just trying to get out there as much as they can” and makes a point to collaborate with this burgeoning artistic community. Indeed “Shaku” is a direct product. As she puts it, the “beauty that you see is only right in front of you.”

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