American rapper, record producer, and fashion designer Kanye Omari West commonly known as Kanye West has stated that “Essence” is the best music in history.
The rapper, 45, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential hip hop musicians of all time, as well as one of the greatest musicians of his generation made the statement in an Instagram post today (Sunday, September 4).
Sharing a screenshot of the song taken via Apple Music, the rapper captioned: “Best song in the history of music to date.”
“Essence” is a song by Nigerian singer Wizkid, featuring fellow Nigerian singer Tems. It was released on 30 October 2020, as the fourth single from Wizkid’s fourth studio album, Made in Lagos.
“Essence” was produced by P2J and Legendury Beatz. The “sensual” song sees the duo express their desire for each other. A music video was released on 9 April 2021, shot in Accra, Ghana.
“Essence” is the first Nigerian song in history to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Billboard Global 200. The song received a nomination at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards for Best Global Music Performance.
After the song garnered popularity, Tems said that although she was “happy” with her first recording of the song, she felt her verse could have been better. However, Wizkid and his team thought her vocals were great and ultimately kept it. Tems recalled hearing the song “in the most random places”, while in Los Angeles.
“Essence” is an Afrobeats/Afro-pop and R&B song
Lyrically, it sees Wizkid and Tems yearning for each other’s physical connection; deemed a “flirtatious” song, the artists deliver “tongue-in-cheek showboating”.
As observed by NPR’s Sidney Madden, the song features Tems singing the chorus about how only her lover can give her the feeling of “lust and obsession and worship that she deserves”, with the lyrics “You don’t need no other body. You don’t need no other body”.
Henrietta Taylor of Nigerian publication DST lauded the collaboration, writing: “The Nigerian artists make a formidable duo in the glossy Afrobeats single, with the more established Wizkid giving rising-star Tems a platform to give listeners a glimpse of her knock-out vocals”.
Praising the chorus as “the hook that keeps on giving”, NPR’s Sidney Madden opined that the song was not immediately appreciated, due to COVID-19, writing: “this song didn’t really get the justice or even the fair playing field it deserved because we were all inside, we were all quarantined. But now that concerts and outdoor picnics and anywhere where the communal experience of music is appreciated is coming back, this song is going to be everywhere, and it’s going to continue to go up”.
Calling the track a perfect mix of Afropop and R&B, Pan African Music said the duo “present an ode to lust” as they “embody sexual desire, advocating a sense of reciprocity”. Regina Cho of Revolt deemed the song a stand-out from Made in Lagos, calling Tems’s verse “sensual”. GRM Daily’s Courtney W called it a “silky, smooth” offering. Conversely, NME called the track “expendable”.
In 2021, “Essence” was ranked as the number one best song of 2021 by American magazine Rolling Stone. “Essence” was included in Spotify’s Song of the Summer playlist in June 2021, and in Barack Obama’s favourite songs of 2020 playlist.
The music video was released on 9 April 2021. Directed by Director K of PriorGold Pictures, and produced by Leke Alabi Isama, it was shot in Accra, Ghana. It was the fourth video to be released from Made in Lagos. The visual sees Wizkid and Tems lounging in the streets of Accra, while Wizkid is later seen riding in a car with two women.
The video was considered “colourful” and “scintillating”, with GRM Daily saying, “The visuals perfectly coincide with the track’s blissful feel and include colourful fits, scenic shots and good vibes”. Rolling Stone said the artists “glow, Wiz bare-chested and draped in diamonds, Tems in slick braids and flowing garb”.
A remix of “Essence” featuring additional vocals from Canadian singer Justin Bieber was released on 13 August 2021, and appears on the deluxe edition of Made in Lagos.